Samuel – A Lifetime Serving God

Lesson 7: “A Serious Error In Judgment” I Samuel 4


“Why did the Lord bring defeat upon us today?” I Samuel 4:3


A Word from God or Man?

·        Samuel "grew in favor with the Lord", despite what was going on around him (like…)

·        Samuel was a prophet (3:20). He passed the test in Deut. 18:21-22. But something happened…

·        Verse 1 of chapter 4 is fuzzy. Did this "word" originate with God or Samuel? Or either?


Tragedy on the battlefield

·        A step back: look at Judges 13:1. These are the consequences of sin.

·        "Why?" (4:3) The elders recognized the defeat in verse 2 was due more to God's displeasure

·        Think of the theme of the Book of Samuel. The story of two kings, and Samuel in the midst of it all, Samuel's unique childhood (but not that of Saul and David). What does this battle mean?


A foolish decision

·        Rather than assess the situation prayerfully, the elders of Israel make a foolish decision. (Where is Samuel in all this?)

·        They treat the Ark like a spiritual rabbit's foot. If we just trot it out we win. They knew the power of it (see Joshua 3 & 6)

·        But that is not what the Ark is. (See Exod. 25:17-22, II Sam. 6:2, Psalms 80:1) Not only that, look who is accompanying the Ark (4:4). Like with the sacrifices, it's not the ritual, it's our hearts

·        The appearance of the Ark did stir up the Philistines (4:6-9). But not the way the Israelites had hoped for (e.g. Josh. 10:10, I Sam. 14:15-23, II Kings 19:35)

·        The phrase "the ark of God was captured" appears 5 times. It is the central theme of this narrative. Remember the importance of the Ark to the Israelites.


A dismal report

·        The news reached Eli, our last glimpse of this now old man (4:18) A sad end, as he heard of the death of his sons, and that the Ark was captured.

·        Eli's daughter-in-law (who must have endured a lot) died shortly after giving birth to a son, whom she named Ichabod, which means 'No Glory'.

·        Israel has seen better days…

·        Where did Israel go wrong in all this?

·        It is ironic that the Ark did have a terrible effect on the Philistines (Chapter 5)

4 Principles


#1) We must always evaluate the advice we receive in light of God's revealed truth in Scripture

#2) The moment to confess our sins is when we violate God's directives, not after we try to fix it ourselves

#3) A life of sin not only affects our own relationship with God, but it impacts those around us

#4) It is never too late to cry out to the Lord for help and restoration


For next week, read I Samuel 7:1-17