Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I Samuel 4- Why did the Lord let us get defeated?

Did I get your attention? ;) Ok, good. If you saw this movie, then it will give you some food for your imagination for our next chapter. I Samuel 4. It's not very long, but see if it doesn't come alive, with all the sounds of war, and desperation that are found in the battle scenes of this movie and many like it. See if you can picture the man, running up to Eli, to bring news all that had been lost in this war. See if you, like me, can hardly wait till tomorrow to continue with the story.

Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who struck down about 4,000 men on the battlefield.
When the troops returned to the camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord let us be defeated today by the Philistines?

Why? Why did the Lord let us be defeated? This just struck me. How could the people of God go into a battle, and come out, barely come out, defeated. 4000 men down. This is the Bible. This is real and raw. It is not a fairy tale, because if it was these parts would definitely not be in it. Nobody wants to hear these stories. Please tell us more of  rainbow sealed promises, and Jesus healing the sick, and Israelites crossing the Red Sea, but please leave out the part where God's people get slaughtered.  These accounts, told in the Bible, divide. This is where people struggle. Why? How could a loving God.....? But let's settle that question once and for all. We don't define love. God did. He *is* love. Period. So we don't get to say what love looks like. We just don't. I remember when I was in middle school and there was a girl who basically got to do whatever she wanted. I was NOT that girl. Man. I wished I was. I couldn't do anything! Nothing. (maybe exaggerating, maybe, but it felt that way) And one day I had a conversation with said girl that went like this "Man, you are so lucky. Your parents don't even care what you do!" And she replied "Yup, they don't. even. care." and with an empty stare she turned and walked away. That one moment gave my prepubescent self centered world view a little reality check.  Exhibit 2: My littlest ones regularly think I am mean because I don't let them watch t.v. night and day while eating candy dipped in soda. That, to them, is what love looks like. But they have no idea. They don't see the big picture, they don't see their future that I am trying to map out. 
We as Christians do not need to run from who God is in the Old Testament. We do not need to explain Him. We can't fully anyway. All I know is that He is. And the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. We cannot even begin to understand until we get straight who He is. And He is love.

This chapter goes from bad to worse. 

So the people sent men to Shiloh to bring back the ark of the covenant of the Lord of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. When the ark of the covenant of the Lord entered the camp, all the Israelites raised such a loud shout that the ground shook.

They get the bright idea that if they bring the Ark of the Covenant into battle on the shoulders of Hophni and Phineas then they can't lose! Hophi and Phineas, the sons of Eli that have been given a death sentence. Oy vey!

The ark gets captured, the brothers are killed, and the battle is lost. Eli hears the news, and at 98 years old he falls over backwards off a wall and dies. Listen. I warned you. This is not an upbeat chapter. But it is the Bible. It has purpose. And it has something to tell us about who God is and what our responsibility is. This is not an isolated incident in the Bible. Time after time, the people get so corrupt that there is no way out but through drastic measures. And look. This was the priest. And his sons. We, who claim the name of Christ need to get serious. We need different statistics then the world. We need to follow the Word that is not "rare" for us. It is available every day. And it is inspired and life changing. Let's let the Word change our lives, and we will see victory through the power of the Holy Spirit.


  1. "We don't define love. God did." So simple. So powerful. So true. I have to believe that He loves me because I have proof all over me. All over my life. Even though I have a million question marks following me, I can still rest assured that He. Loves. Me.

    Thanks for the reminder, Apologista. Love you!

  2. Yes you do!! Your life shouts God's redemption power and His love. Proof. Exactly. xoxo