“…all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook.”1 Samuel 4:5
This chapter was all about war between the Philistines and Israelites. Eli, who was still head priest at the time, two of his sons broke the law and brought the ark of the covenant to where the Israelites were camping during battle, right after being defeated. “The ark of the covenant contained the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses. The ark was supposed to be kept in ‘the Most Holy Place, a sacred part of the tabernacle that only the high priest could enter once a year.'” (Application) You see how serious it was what the sons did! And this is where today’s verse comes in.
Although, Eli’s sons broke the law by bringing it there, when it entered the camp, “all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook.” (v.5) Isn’t that such a powerful visual, can’t you almost feel it? The excitement and hope flooded them back again. It makes me think, could you imagine the ground shaking that would happen if all believers shared the Word and added more believers, when we got together the amount of “shaking” that would happen from celebrating the truth. However, there is a problem with this, the Israelites weren’t actually worshipping God, rather it was the ark which our application tells us was a “wood and metal box”. They believed that this box was their source of power. Although it contained something so special and holy, it didn’t contain God. They were treating it as a good luck charm of sorts. And with God, it’s not about the symbol or needing good luck, it’s about pressing into God, praying, asking for strength or sharing your heart with Him and letting Him act! The application went on to say “…spiritual victories come through a continually renewed relationship with God. Don’t live off the past. Keep your relationship with God new and fresh.” And guess what, they were all pumped up and worshipping the ark, but the story tells us next that they still were defeated in the next battle. It wasn’t about the ark, but about where they were believing their help came from; God’s power comes from Him alone not from a “symbol” of Him. Well, not only did they lose, the Philistines stole the ark because they knew that the Israelites God, our God, was powerful. And guess what the Israelites thought once it was stolen. They believed that with the ark gone, that it meant that God had left them, too, but you know God never left them!
Have you ever put something or maybe even someone above God, believing that it was your power or success? What was it? And have you ever lost something that was a symbol of the Lord’s love for you? When you couldn’t find it, did you feel He was gone too or were you able to still feel his love and power within you and recognize it was just a symbol?
God, thank you for this story in Samuel. We recognize that no symbol means your power or your presence, that those things only come from you, directly. With you as our God, we know we don’t need “good luck charms” either because your will is your will no matter what we have to try and bring it about any other way. We ask in times where we place something in the place of your power that you lovingly and gently remind us that our strength comes ONLY from you. We pray you convict our hearts to see anything that is trying to steal your place of power within us. We love the gift of tangible reminders that we can physically have to remind us of you, those are a blessing, but we pray that they don’t take your place as our source of power, that we are confident that it comes from you, whose Spirit lives within us, the maker of heaven and earth. In your powerful name we pray. Amen!