Chapter 4 begins with the Israelites fighting a battle with the Philistines. In the end, 4,000 men of Israel were killed and defeated. While heading back to camp, the Israelite men began to wonder.. “Why did the Lord allow this to happen? What can we use that will guarantee future defeat?”
After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp and the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?” Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it to battle with us, it will save us from our enemies.” -1 Samuel 4:3 (NLT)
The Ark of the Covenant was a golden rectangular box that held the Ten Commandments. Its purpose was to symbolize God’s covenant with the people of Israel and was to be kept in the most Holy Place of the Tabernacle (more information relating to the Ark of the Covenant can be found in Exodus 37).
In these initial chapters of 1 Samuel, we see that the Israelites regarded the Ark of the Covenant as sacred and holy, but the focus was placed on the “actual box” as their source of power, not on the true power of God! The Ark of the Covenant became nothing more than a good luck charm to them. The Lord saw that the people no longer had faith in Him, and the consequences resulted in death.
Just like the Israelites, I also had a religious idol. The Holy Bible. How can that be? I placed all my trust in the fact that as long as I carried the Bible with me – even if I didn’t read it or live it out, I was protected from the enemy. But God spoke the truth to me and it was only through reading and living out the Bible that I found my true haven of safety and security!
Today, ask God to reveal if there are any areas in your life where there may be idolatry ask for His help to overcome those things. Don’t put your faith in material things, but believe in the power of our living God!