I was reading today in 1 Samuel 4, about the leaders of the young nation of Israel. They had just been defeated in battle by the Philistines, most likely for not having consulted the Lord in advance. Instead of regrouping to seek the Lord and inquire about these matters, they went further astray, deciding to force God’s hand to support their campaign…
2 The Philistines drew up in line against Israel, and when the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the field of battle. 3 And when the people came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” 4 So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. (esv)
The presence of the corrupt sons of Eli (Hophni and Phinehas) signals the reader of pending doom (as foretold in chapter 3). You can guess that it did not end well — they were defeated, these wicked men were killed, and the Ark of the LORD was captured by the enemy. It’s interesting to notice more fear and awe of the LORD on the part of the Philistines than the presumptive Israelites in the passage.
As I prayed and reflected on this today, the grave sin of presumption stood out to me. When we do not find things going well, or worse, dare we think that the problem is the lack of input and effort on the part of our Lord?? Can our God be manipulated into blessing our various endeavors? I should say not.
Once again I discover the value of daily reading God’s holy Word, to examine my thinking in its light and to put a check my self-centeredness. The Word and prayer. I need these daily.
“14 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Gen. 3:14-15 esv
MANTON MONDAY (from the writings of Puritan Thomas Manton)
These words are a part of the gospel preached in paradise, or the first promise of grace and life made to mankind, now fallen and dead in sin. As God was cursing the serpent, He draws out this comfort to our first parents, who were confounded with the sense of sin and their defection from God. Satan’s condemnation is our salvation. He did the first mischief, therefore the crushing of his head gives hope of our deliverance out of that state of misery into which he has plunged us.
The words are dark in comparison of the larger explications of the grace of God by Jesus Christ which were after delivered to the church. Who would look for a great tree in a little seed? Yet the seminal virtue does afterward diffuse and dilate itself into all those stately and lofty branches in which the fowls of the air do take up their lodging and shelter. So do these few words contain all the articles and mysteries of the christian faith, which are the fountains of our solid peace and consolation. In the seed of the woman is contained all the doctrine concerning the incarnation of the Son of God; in the bruising of his heal, his death and sufferings; in the crushing of the serpent’s head, His glorious victory and conquest. As obscure as these words are, an eagle-eyed and discerning faith could pick a great deal of comfort out of them. The antediluvian fathers, so famous throughout all ages for their faith and confidence in God, had no other gospel to live upon. Abel, who offered a better sacrifice than Cain, Enoch, who walked with God, Noah, who prepared the ark, did all that they did in the strength and upon the encouragement of this promise. [WORKS of Thomas Manton, XVII.241]