Where do you seek to find glory in life? Have you ever lost your glory?
1 Samuel 4:12-22
12 That same day a Benjamite ran from the battle line and went to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dust on his head. 13 When he arrived, there was Eli sitting on his chair by the side of the road, watching, because his heart feared for the ark of God. When the man entered the town and told what had happened, the whole town sent up a cry.
14 Eli heard the outcry and asked, “What is the meaning of this uproar?”
The man hurried over to Eli, 15 who was ninety-eight years old and whose eyes had failed so that he could not see. 16 He told Eli, “I have just come from the battle line; I fled from it this very day.”
Eli asked, “What happened, my son?”
17 The man who brought the news replied, “Israel fled before the Philistines, and the army has suffered heavy losses. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.”
18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and he was heavy. He had led Israel forty years.
19 His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near the time of delivery. When she heard the news that the ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains.20 As she was dying, the women attending her said, “Don’t despair; you have given birth to a son.” But she did not respond or pay any attention.
21 She named the boy Ichabod, saying, “The Glory has departed from Israel”—because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said, “The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”
Israel’s glory was God himself, present amongst them, as represented by the Ark of God, which was in their portable temple (the tabernacle). Eli was the priestly leader of Israel. His sons were evil men, and God promised Eli that judgement would fall. That judgement is what this passage is about. However, it would be wrong for us to interpret every death in our experience as God’s specific judgement on a person or family. Sometimes tragedy befalls us for unknown reasons. In Israel’s case, they had a word from God. God would judge the terrible evils of Eli’s sons, and God’s glory would temporarily leave Israel, when the Philistines captured the Ark of God. This scene was repeated in a bigger way at the end of the Old Testament story when the people of God went into the Babylonian exile and God’s glory departed from the temple, again because of his people’s evil behaviour over many generations. Yet the glory of God returned, but not in the way they expected. The glory of God came personally in Jesus. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling [i.e. tabernacled] among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Later in John 17:24, just before he dies, Jesus prays, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” When Jesus is our glory, the centre of our life, his promise is that he will never leave us or forsake us, and that we will be with him and see his glory forever.
Head: Where do I seek to find glory in life?
Heart: Is Jesus is my glory, the centre of my life?
Hands: How can I prioritise gathering with Jesus’ people, around him and his word in Growth Group and Church, as key habits that express Jesus as my glory and the centre of my life?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I confess that I too easily make something or someone other than Jesus my glory and the centre of my life. Please forgive me for doing that. Help me to prioritise gathering with Jesus’ people, around him and his word in Growth Group and Church. Thank you that Jesus promises that he will never leave us or forsake us, and that we will be with him and see his glory forever. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
A song to listen to: Only a Holy God
Phil Strong- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina & Springfield