1 Samuel 4

* The Israelites overcome by the Philistines. (1-9) The ark

taken. (10,11) The death of Eli. (12-18) The birth of Ichabod.


1-9 Israel is smitten before the Philistines. Sin, the accursed

thing, was in the camp, and gave their enemies all the advantage

they could wish for. They own the hand of God in their trouble;

but, instead of submitting, they speak angrily, as not aware of

any just provocation they had given him. The foolishness of man

perverts his way, and then his heart frets against the Lord, #Pr

19:3|, and finds fault with him. They supposed that they could

oblige God to appear for them, by bringing the ark into their

camp. Those who have gone back in the life of religion,

sometimes discover great fondness for the outward observances of

it, as if those would save them; and as if the ark, God's

throne, in the camp, would bring them to heaven, though the

world and the flesh are on the throne in the heart.
10,11 The taking of the ark was a great judgment upon Israel,

and a certain token of God's displeasure. Let none think to

shelter themselves from the wrath of God, under the cloak of

outward profession.
12-18 The defeat of the army was very grievous to Eli as a

judge; the tidings of the death of his two sons, to whom he had

been so indulgent, and who, as he had reason to fear, died

impenitent, touched him as a father; yet there was a greater

concern on his spirit. And when the messenger concluded his

story with, "The ark of God is taken," he is struck to the

heart, and died immediately. A man may die miserably, yet not

die eternally; may come to an untimely end, yet the end be

19-22 The wife of Phinehas seems to have been a person of

piety. Her dying regret was for the loss of the ark, and the

departure of the glory from Israel. What is any earthly joy to

her that feels herself dying? No joy but that which is spiritual

and divine, will stand in any stead then; death is too serious a

thing to admit the relish of any earthly joy. What is it to one

that is lamenting the loss of the ark? What pleasure can we take

in our creature comforts and enjoyments, if we want God's word

and ordinances; especially if we want the comfort of his

gracious presence, and the light of his countenance? If God go,

the glory goes, and all good goes. Woe unto us if he depart! But

though the glory is withdrawn from one sinful nation, city, or

village after another, yet it shall never depart altogether, but

shines forth in one place when eclipsed in another.

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