Today's chapters relate three great events in the history of Israel. First, we see that God's glory is departed, as chapter 4:1-5 records the great sin of the people; verses 6-10, the great slaughter; and verses 11-22, the great sorrow.
Second, we see that God's name is defended in chapters 5 and 6. God will not reveal His power on behalf of His sinning people, but He will not allow His glory to be mocked or His name to be defied.
The lords of the Philistines added the Ark to the heathen temple, and put Jehovah on the same level as their fish-god, Dagon. Jehovah proved Dagon to be a false god and vindicated His name. The Ark was then moved from Ashdod to Ekron, but the citizens then begged to have it removed. Once again, God had defended His name.
It was decided to return the Ark to Israel; but nobody dared to undertake the task. They finally decided to put the Ark on a new cart and allow the cows to walk down the road unassisted. It would be natural for the cows to seek out their calves; but, if they headed for Beth-shemesh instead, it would be evidence the God was directing them. God did direct the cows and they brought the cart to the field of Joshua. The Israelites in the harvest field rejoiced to see the Ark returned. However, they became curious, looked into the Ark, and God had to judge them.
Third, in chapter 7, God's people are delivered. The Ark was not returned to Shiloh; it remained at the house of Abinadad for twenty years. What was God doing during this time? He was preparing His servant Samuel to defeat the enemy and reestablish the kingdom. No doubt Samuel was ministering to the people from place to place, giving them the Word of God. Verse 3 indicates that Samuel called the people to repent and return to the Lord. This meant putting away the gods of the heathen, and then preparing their heart to serve the Lord. How tragic that the great nation of Israel had fallen into defeat and disrepute because of their sins! Had Eli been a faithful father and his sons faithful priests, this defeat would never have occurred.
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