1 SAMUEL 4
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1 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek.

2 And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men.



3 And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath Yahweh smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of Yahweh out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

There must have been a history of the ark to justify such a thought. We have such a history in the case of Moses and Joshua. Marvels were wrought in connection with it in their day: allow these, and the divinity of all that follows (to the last verse in Revelation) is established. Deny these, and the confidence of Israel that the ark would save them is without explanation. Not only Israel, but the Philistines had great expectations from the ark, which must have had the same substantial foundation.

... The Philistines regarded the ark superstitiously, and the unenlightened portion of Israel did so, saying, 

"Let us fetch the ark, that when IT cometh among us, IT may save us."




4 So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of Yahweh of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of Elohim.

5 And when the ark of the covenant of Yahweh came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.

6 And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of Yahweh was come into the camp.

7 And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, Elohim is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore.

8 Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.

9 Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.

This was spoken by the Philistines. A similar expression comes from the apostle Paul (1 Cor 16 13) though I think it unlikely he was intentionally quoting the Philistine.



10 And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.

Scripture narratives attributed nothing to the ark, but all to the power of God present with them. On this very occasion, when trust was placed in the ark, instead of God, whose symbolic presence it was, the narrative shows us the ark a discredited and helpless piece of furniture in the hands of the enemy-a fact inexplicable on any theory except that of simple truth.

Visible Hand of God Ch 22



11 And the ark of Elohim was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

12 And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head.

13 And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of Elohim. And when the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out.

14 And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli.

15 Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see.

16 And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son?

17 And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of Elohim is taken.

18 And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of Elohim, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.

19 And his daughter in law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of Elohim was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her.

20 And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it.

21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of Elohim was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.

22 And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of Elohim is taken.