I Samuel 4:1-22

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

Text: I Samuel 4



Something we all must learn to do is to maintain a close walk with the Lord and do what the Bible says at all times. Throughout the Scriptures, we repeatedly see that whenever someone strays from the plain teaching of the Bible, he gets into trouble. Therefore, we must continually subject all our ideas, thoughts, philosophies, and practices to the Scripture. When people start paying more attention to the writings of others, I can guarantee you that they will stray from the Scriptures.

Just as an example of this, I am absolutely convinced that you will never come up with the idea of a clergy that dominates over the laity from reading the Bible.

How does one get around the idea of I Peter 5:3 - Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

If you only read the Bible, I am also convinced that you will never come up with the idea that we should compromise in cooperation with unbelievers in order to win the lost. How do you get around II Corinthians 6:14 - Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

It also takes a lot of neglect to get around Romans 16:17 - Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

Furthermore, if you only read the Bible, I am absolutely convinced that you will never come up with the idea that Christ died only for the elect rather than for all mankind. It takes a great deal of exegetical tap dancing to get around I John 2:2 - And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

It also takes a great deal of exegetical gymnastics to get around II Peter 2:1 - But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

In case you miss my point, I firmly believe that, if those who are enamored with Calvinism would stop reading the writings of the Calvinists altogether and spend all their time and energy in studying the Bible exclusively, they would eventually wean themselves from Calvinism. This church is not a Calvinistic church and I am not a Calvinist. This is a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church, and I am going to teach what the Bible says. Those looking for Calvinistic teaching are going to be disappointed.

We remind ourselves of:

Joshua 1:8 - This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Romans 8:28 - And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 15:4 - For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

I Corinthians 10:11-12 - (11) Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (12) Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

When people stray from the Word of God, bad things happen. In this message let's take a look at some things which happened when Israel strayed from the word of God.

We remind ourselves that in I Samuel 2 a man of God came to Eli and warned him that God was going to judge his two sons because of their sins as the Lord's priests.

I Samuel 2:27-36 - (27) And there came a man of God unto Eli [A man of God is a spokesman for the Lord. He is one charged with a mission by God.], and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father [i.e. Aaron], when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house? (28) And did I choose him [i.e. Aaron] out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father [i.e. Aaron] all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel? (29) Wherefore [i.e. why, for what (reason)] kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering [it suggests despising them, treating them with contempt, scorning them, etc.], which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people? (30) Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. (31) Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm [arm is a figure of strength], and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house. (32) And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever. (33) And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age. (34) And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them.

The prophet is predicting the destruction of the priestly family of Eli, which will be partially fulfilled in the massacre of the priests of Nob when David was fleeing from Saul (22:11-19) and in the transfer of the priesthood to the family of Zadok in the time of Solomon (I Kings 2:26-27 , 35). The death of Eli's two sons on the same day would be a sign to validate the prophecy.]

(35) And I will raise me up a faithful priest [A reference to Zadok who ministered in the days of David and Solomon but ultimately to Christ], that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever. (36) And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests' offices, that I may eat a piece of bread [i.e. the motive for being a priest would not be to serve the Lord but to get something to eat].

I Samuel 3:10-13 - 10 And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth. 11 And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. 12 In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. 13 For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile [i.e. contemptible], and he restrained [i.e. rebuked] them not. 14 And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever. 15 And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision. 16 Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I. 17 And he said, What is the thing that the LORD hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee. 18 And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good.

I. ISRAEL'S LOSS - 4:1-2

I Samuel 4:1-2 - (1) And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek. (2) And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men.


I Samuel 4:3 - And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore [i.e. why?] hath the Lord smitten us to day before the Philistines?


A. They mistook the visible for the invisible - 4:3B-4A

I Samuel 4:3-4 - (3B) Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it [i.e. the ark] may save us out of the hand of our enemies. (4A) So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth between the Cherubims:

Similarly people forget that symbols are not the reality itself but only representative of the reality, e.g. communion elements, baptism, various rites, ceremonies, etc.

B. They preferred an office to character - 4:4B

I Samuel 4:4 B - (4B) and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

C. They confused enthusiasm for faith - 4:5-6

I Samuel 4:5-6 - (5) And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again. (6) And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the Lord was come into the camp.

D. They valued novelty above Scriptural order - 4:7

The Philistines recognized this novelty.

I Samuel 4:7 - (7) And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore.

E. They confused ritual and spirituality - 4:8-9

The Philistines recognized this ritual, and it did the Israelites no good.

I Samuel 4:8-9 - (8) Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. (9) Be strong and quit yourselves like [i.e. conduct yourselves like, be] men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like [i.e. conduct yourselves like, be] men, and fight.


A. The Israelite army was defeated - 4:10

I Samuel 4:10 - (10) And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.

B. God removed the idol - 4:11

I Samuel 4:11 - (11) And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

This was done so that they might not trust in something other than God. People might still have some idols in their lives, e.g. money, security, education, homes, position, popularity, etc.

C. God removed the false leadership - 4:11

I Samuel 4:11 - (11) And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

D. God removed the failing prophet - 4:12-18

I Samuel 4:12-18 - (12) And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head. (13) And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out. (14) And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli. (15) Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see. (16) And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son? (17) And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken. (18) And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.

E. God purged the family - 4:19-22

I Samuel 4:19-22 - (19) And his daughter in law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. (20) And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. (21) And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. (22) And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.


Joshua 1:8 - (8) This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

When things are done God's way, God's blessing will be there.

When we stray from God's way, we can expect God's judgment, which may be no more than allowing us to experience the logical consequences of our actions.