Friday, 12th March 2021
Rev Daniel Xi An Poon
I Samuel 4 – Ichabod – The Glory has Departed
Section One: V1-4 Replaced God with Other Gods
Ebenezer means the place with the help of God. But we can see that the Israelites at the time did not know God. It’s just like what I Samuel 3:1 says, “And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.”
Even the priests, Eli’s sons, did not know God at the time. If the priests did not speak the Word of God, then how can the Israelites know God? All they knew was “doing” and how to fight in the battles, they did not know God. What about us? Do we really know God and how to pray to Him?
V2 we like to put up decorations or wear symbols of the cross, but do we really understand the meaning of the cross and have Jesus in our lives? We must have the right focus, and do not become an idol worshipper. When Israelites lost before the Philistines, they wanted to bring over the Ark of God,
V3 what the Israelites worshipped was not God, but their past experience, their knowledge, things people created, which are the false gods. They forgot why Joshua put the Ark of God first, because it was the instructions from God. But these group of people they did not even know God, when they faced problems, they wanted solutions straight away, but they did not look into their lives and ask why God’s glory has left them.
V4 the two sinners who did not know God were carrying the Ark of God. When our lives are not right and when we tried to do something for God, then God will not be on our side! We should not seek God using the way of idol-worship when facing problems but return to God first and ask Him to help us examine our lives.
Section Two: V5-18 Did Not Value God
V5-8 Philistines knew God from the things God had done in the past. They did not know the Ark of God, but the God, who struck Egyptians in the past. Why do we share testimonies? To recognise the signs and wonders God has done in our lives in the past! We tend to focus on our own problems and we did not see God’s rod and staff are comforting us.
We have forgotten God’s promises for us, we still worship the idols men have created. We follow our emotions, we cannot interact with God because we are worshipping other gods and we do not even know God! We cannot be like Mary to sit before Jesus without worrying about anything else. Do we really value God and know how precious He is?
V9 Even the Philistines knew that God could destroy them! Do we feel we are defeated? Do we hurt ourselves and want to kill ourselves? If we do then we are judging God’s creation. Why do we feel we are not good enough? Because we let sins come into our lives and did not do what God pleases. All we need to do is to repent!
God is not here to solve our problems! He does not carry the cross to follow us and fix our every wrong, instead, we need to turn around, repent and follow Him. Our body is the temple of God, so when we receive the word of God every morning, we are lighting up the temple of God every day. We don’t need to use our own strength to fight, but come before God and let Him fight for us.
V10 when God was not with the Israelites, they lost the fight. When we are defeated or hurt, we would want to run away and hide. We don’t value God, and don’t see how God has already given us His only Son, Jesus Christ, to save us. We think we can comfort ourselves by hiding away, and we don’t come before God, ask for His forgiveness and comfort.
The Israelites were defeated, the Ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons died. If we don’t value God, and value too much on ‘doing’, then at the end we will fail.
V13 when God told Eli that his sons would die on the same day, he said, “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him.” Eli valued his ministry more than his sons and his health! He fell when he heard the Ark of God was captured. Do we value our work and ministry more than the presence of God?
V18 even such a person like Eli, God let him serve Israel for 40 years. God kept on giving Eli opportunities to repent. Of course Eli knew his sons’ wickedness, and of course Eli knew the Ark of God cannot be carried by sinful people, but he did not stop them.
“There was Eli, sitting on a seat by the wayside watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God.” Eli was worried for the Ark of God more than his sons, he worried that if his ministry would stand, but both his ministry and he himself were gone!
Section Three: V19-22 Disappeared together with the Idols
V19 Phinehas’ wife had a son, but she only focused on the death of her husband and father-in-law. As a mother, she did not give thanks for her son given by God even in the hard times.
When we don’t know God, the Word of God is no longer valid, because people don’t want to listen to the words, which make them feel uncomfortable. People want to hear words of encouragement and praises, but the teachings of God were few.
God wants us to return, when we repent and return, God’s salvation will come. May God help us, during this time of fasting, we can be convicted of sin, of judgement and of righteousness, let us be bold and repent before God, and restore the goodness He has created us to be.
Pursuit & Respond
No matter how long we have believed in God, in this time of fasting and praying, do we see the love of God for us? He loves us and our families, He wants to bless us and He does not want us to die in the fiery furnace. He loves us not because of how much we have done, His Son, Jesus Christ, has died for us on the cross and came back to life after three days.
God loves us, and sees us as the apple of His eye. But have we used other gods to replace Jehovah? Let the Holy Spirit shine His light upon us, help us not to be afraid and not to hide, but to come before the cross boldly, be convicted of sin, of righteousness and of judgement. Examine into our lives, let the true light of God shine within us. Let us repent before the cross, all the things we have done, to use idols to replace our God.
In the Name of Jesus, by faith, we come before the cross and declare Your precious blood on the cross can cover all our sins. Lead us, Lord, out of the darkness and enter light. Help us to align with You. Amen!
撒母耳成为神所拣选的先知。先知的意思就是“传话” – 传神的话。他生不逢时，处在一个混乱、任意妄为的时代。我们是否要被周围的人影响？这是我们自己要负的责任，不可推卸给神或世界。耶稣说他已经胜过这个世界，我们这些跟随他的人也能得胜。我们要让神的话来照亮我们里面的黑暗。
V1-2, “以便以谢” 意思是被神帮助的地方。在这一章对以色列人来讲这是一个惨败的地方，但之后撒母耳在同一个地方看见神的同在。我们是否常将神放在一个框框里，还是看到神的真实和他同在的法则？当时的以色列人不认识神（撒母耳记上2:12、3:1) – 因为连祭司的两个儿子也不认识神，也没有人教导神的话语。人们懂的只是要做的事、如何去打仗。我们也要很诚实的问自己，我们认识神吗？我们的祷告合神心意吗？
V3，以色列人觉得有约柜就是得胜，他们在敬拜的不是神，而是他们自己的经历，是用一个人造的偶像代替了耶和华神。我们忘了当初约书亚过约旦河时为什么约柜在前面 – 神与约书亚同在，他有从神而来的指示。而现今这些以色列人不认识神，打仗失败了就自己想方法解决。我们遇到问题时常常第一个想的都是方法，却没有想到自己的生命，没有安静来寻求神，去鉴察问题的根源。
V10, 非利士人本来是要做以色列人的奴仆，以色列本来是他们的主人，但“以色列人败了，各向各家奔跑”。我们受伤的时候也是如此，躲在自己的家里或舒适圈，不服事神。这是奴仆的心态 – 受伤了就离开、躲藏。我们受伤了，没有来到耶稣基督的面前求怜悯得医治，以为自己能包裹自己。求神帮助我们能看重他所给我们的独生爱子耶稣基督。
V12-18，当神跟以利说关于他们家要受审判的时候，他无动于衷，反而看重的是耶和华的约柜 – 就是他的事工。两个儿子的死似乎不是问题，但是约柜被掳走，他就不能做祭司。我们是否也是如此看重事工而不是神的同在和人的生命？看到人离开神，我们是否能为此向神认罪。“以利作以色列的士师四十年”，神怜悯以利，一直给他机会悔改。但以利没有阻止自己的两个不认识神的儿子抬约柜, 明知道随意抬约柜的后果严重，他不为自己的儿子担忧，只是为约柜担忧 (V12)。我们若看重事工，我们会和事工一起死去。若没有神的同在，神的荣耀就会离开。