God can take care of His own Glory.
God’s usual way of working for man, is to use another man to speak, or show God’s Will. (1 Corinthians 1:21, 25)
But He does not have to do so. God can and does take care of His own glory. (though His choice is to use man, so he may share in that glory.)
1 Samuel 2:29-30. “Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation: and honorest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?
Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me forever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”
The priesthood had failed, for Eli had not rebuked and chastened his sons, who were disobedient to God’s Word.
So God had another man in the wings to lead Israel, spiritually.
(That man was Samuel, who was a picture of the Lord Jesus who would judge, and lead His people in the right way.)
But now, Israel is in a battle with the Philistines. And they are losing.
Instead of seeking God as to what to do, they go to bring out the Ark of the Covenant, like a lucky rabbit’s foot; hoping it will save them.
1 Samuel 4:4 “So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the Lord of Hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubim: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.”
Yes, it is the symbol of God’s Presence, but frankly God is not with them, in this battle; and He will not be “used”.
He will defend His Ark, but not Israel.
He actually uses the Ark to stir up the enemies of Israel, to teach them all a lesson about Himself: Who He is, and what He can do.
1 Samuel 4:5-6, 9-11. “And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.
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 the Lord is come into the camp.”
Be strong, 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.
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.
And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.”
God is the God of the whole earth, and can make Himself known to any people, at any time.
1 Samuel 5:2 “When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.”
Confident that they had beaten, not only Israel, but Israel’s God; they brought the Ark into the house of their god.
But, God is not defeated, but ready always, with power to show Himself strong.
1 Samuel 5:3-4 “And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen on his face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.
And when they arose on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both of the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.”
First, God just has their god fall down before the Ark. Showing that their god was nothing.
Then, God chops off the head, and hands of their god; leaving only the stump. All were down at the Ark’s feet.
1 Samuel 5:6-7 “But the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with hemorrhoids, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.
And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.”
God, then began making the men of the place sore. He destroyed some, and gave others hemorrhoids so painful that they cried out for help.
But not to the true God. Instead, they gathered the lords of the Philistines and wanted relief. So they thought that they could stop God, by moving the Ark.
1 Samuel 5: 8-9 “…And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel thither.
And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the Lord was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had hemorrhoids in their secret parts.”
But God’s hand was against this next city, and it’s men, as well.
It was worse there, for it says, “a very great destruction”.
The Philistines were not going to give up their “trophy” from their victory over Israel (How silly pride is),……so they start to move the Ark again.
(I wonder if the Lord is not slaying the very men who fought in the battle, which took the Ark.)
1 Samuel 5:10-11 “Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron that the Ekronites cried out saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people.
So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.”
But even while it was coming, the men of the place cried out against it. They thought that the lords of the Philistines had brought it, to slay them.
This would destroy the unity of the five lords of the Philistines, not to mention decimate their population.
Even as it came to the last city, it destroyed many.
After seven months of slaughter by the Lord, the Philistines finally seek a way to send it “to his place.”
They wanted to be rid of it; but just to take it back, was a sign of defeat. This, they did not want. What if the plagues remained after it went back?
So the priests of the Philistines told them:
First, make images of the hemorrhoids that were sent among the men, and images of the mice that were sent among the cities.
“…and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you…” (1Samuel 6:5)
Then, they were to make a new cart.
They were to take two milking cows away from their calves, and put a yoke on their necks (they had never been used to pull anything before).
They were to tie them to the cart with the Ark in it, put the offering of gold images in a box by it, and let it go.
Then they would see if God could bring His Ark home.
1 Samuel 6:9 “And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coasts: to Bethsemesh, that he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us; it was a chance that happened to us.”
Of course, He did take His Ark back to Israel
God always sees to His glory, whether He can use His people or not. Israel lost out; and so can we, if we are not being what we should be.
1 Samuel 6:12, 16 “And the kine took the straight way to the way of Bethsemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Bethsemesh.
And when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.”
(It is amazing, God took simple animals and made them obedient: against their nature,……for milking cows do not want to leave their calves.
But men and women, God gives a choice. Believe and obey, or Turn aside after their own way. Isaiah 53:6)
God’s honor and glory should be our highest aim.
And now let us see what God did to backsliding Israel, with Samuel’s guidance:
1 Samuel 7:3 “And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.”
God sends Samuel to speak to Israel about what they should do.
And they did put away the gods they had secretly worshipped, and “served the Lord only.”
1 Samuel 7:4 “Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only.”
God can do anything, in any way He chooses. But His Will is that we deliberately choose Him.
Will we go along in His Way? Or in our own way?
There is more to this:
Samuel calls for a time of repentance.
But when the Philistines hear of the gathering, they come looking for more victory, more slaughter.
But now God was for Israel:
The means for Victory in Israel was their repentance, Samuel’s offering and prayers, and the Lord’s thunder and lightening.
Yes, Israel fought, but this time the Lord was with them.
1 Samuel 7:8-10 “And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.
And Samuel took a suckling lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord: and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him.
And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomforted them; and they were smitten before Israel.”
We should always thank the Lord for His Presence with us, in times of trouble, or in times of prosperity.
His Presence and Help make all the difference.
Have we learned the lesson of making sure that God is for us, because we are seeking His will, and doing it?
God can take care of His own glory, but He would rather, we shared in it, with Him.