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And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek. 2 And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men. 3 And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies. 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 cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

5 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. 6 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 was come into the camp. 7 And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. 8 Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. 9 Be strong, and 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.

10 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. 11 And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

12 And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head. 13 And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out. 14 And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli. 15 Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see. 16 And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son? 17 And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken. 18 And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.

19 And his daughter in law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. 22 And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.

Commentary for 1 Samuel 4

The Israelites overcome by the Philistines. (1-9) The ark taken. (10,11) The death of Eli. (12-18) The birth of Ichabod. (19-22)1-9 Israel is smitten before the Philistines. Sin, the accursed thing, was in the camp, and gave their enemies all the advantage they could wish for. They own the hand of God in their trouble; but, instead of submitting, they speak angrily, as not aware of any just provocation they had given him. The foolishness of man perverts his way, and then his heart frets against the Lord, #Pr 19:3|, and finds fault with him. They supposed that they could oblige God to appear for them, by bringing the ark into their camp. Those who have gone back in the life of religion, sometimes discover great fondness for the outward observances of it, as if those would save them; and as if the ark, God's throne, in the camp, would bring them to heaven, though the world and the flesh are on the throne in the heart.

10,11 The taking of the ark was a great judgment upon Israel, and a certain token of God's displeasure. Let none think to shelter themselves from the wrath of God, under the cloak of outward profession.

12-18 The defeat of the army was very grievous to Eli as a judge; the tidings of the death of his two sons, to whom he had been so indulgent, and who, as he had reason to fear, died impenitent, touched him as a father; yet there was a greater concern on his spirit. And when the messenger concluded his story with, "The ark of God is taken," he is struck to the heart, and died immediately. A man may die miserably, yet not die eternally; may come to an untimely end, yet the end be peace.

19-22 The wife of Phinehas seems to have been a person of piety. Her dying regret was for the loss of the ark, and the departure of the glory from Israel. What is any earthly joy to her that feels herself dying? No joy but that which is spiritual and divine, will stand in any stead then; death is too serious a thing to admit the relish of any earthly joy. What is it to one that is lamenting the loss of the ark? What pleasure can we take in our creature comforts and enjoyments, if we want God's word and ordinances; especially if we want the comfort of his gracious presence, and the light of his countenance? If God go, the glory goes, and all good goes. Woe unto us if he depart! But though the glory is withdrawn from one sinful nation, city, or village after another, yet it shall never depart altogether, but shines forth in one place when eclipsed in another.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for 1 Samuel 4

  • David on 1 Samuel 4
    The sin of compromise, makes one just as guilty as the perpetrators of sin. It caused the presence of God to depart, even before the ark of God, was taken by the Philistines. Eli seemed only to fear for the ark, and lost the reverential fear for the God of the ark. This possibly was the cause of Eli's sin of compromise. So many times we want God's presence and not want to do His will.
  • Christ Magnified Glorifying Jesus on 1 Samuel 4
    Day 74 of Bible Reading in a Year. These last 4 chapters are so revealing about human nature. Our desires, priorities, feelings, ego, drive etc. Praise God for His mercy and patience in my life. May Jesus be glorified.
  • A disciple on 1 Samuel 4
    A Nation with NO HEART for the LORD, or to at all be His People; who have only ever been ANTI-Christ and ANTI-faith and ANTI-obedience since the Lord brought them out of the bondage and oppression of Egypt; NOW thinks to get their "Secret Weapon" of God to fight for them? Astonishing presumption and ignorance! And so, what happens? God is not fooled by a hypocritical show, and fornicating priests!
  • BSP on 1 Samuel 4
    In verse 11 we see that the 2 wicked sons of Eli were killed in the battle. They did not have God's spirit.
  • Ren on 1 Samuel 4
    I think he does talk to his children but some r so busy that they just don't hear him.He speaks in a quiet soft voice u have to really listen to hear him.Slow down be quiet and u will hear him.
  • April on 1 Samuel 4
    Bruce:when I was a little girl I was in 4th grade,my stomach hurt terribly and it was an on going pain I woke up everyday to go to school it was so hard to consintrate,I would lay by the airvent with a sheet and make a buble and I heard in my head same voice as 4yrs ago say go outside,I said to myself I've been outside every day,but I did what it said and the moment I was out,it went away:),Amen..
  • Bruce on 1 Samuel 4
    April: Our Lord will talk to His Children (maybe not all?) The first time I heard His Voice,He said,don't get Married. I thought maybe it's me talking to myself? 5 hrs. Later I'm Married. A year later,He talked to me again,that Voice? I know that Voice! Yes,it is calm,not loud,soft,you just know! Most of the time it's 2-5 words. To Hear His Voice and Feel His presence! The Marriage was from Hell.
  • Lu2677 on 1 Samuel 4
    Daily tribulations=physical afflictions,(illness,hardship,mourning loss,trials and testings) things all men face, for the believer we have these things and more, plus; daily fighting "the flesh" etc. Is not the same as The Great Tribulation that is yet to come,that the world has never seen before, and will never see again when it is over. We are not living in "The Great Tribulation" at this time.
  • April on 1 Samuel 4
    Bruce:I was more or less speaking of the Tribulation most feel we're in,REVELATIONS,I know many have said that time has been many times,this WILL sound crazy but about 4 yrs ago I was in the kitchen having a convo in my head when I heard YOUR RUNNING OUT OF TIME speak over my thoughts it was very calm but stern,I was like what do you mean?,am I going to die or something,I feel something is coming.
  • Bruce on 1 Samuel 4
    April: We are in The Tribulation.It started a few Thousand yrs back. In The World ye shall have Tribulation: But be of good cheer; I have overcome The World. John 16:33/--- That we must through much Tribulation Enter into The Kingdom of God. Acts 14:22. I never carry a Bible. I just talk to whoever listens. They never ask to see a Bible. Always some in my car. Some are so glad I talked to Them.


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Bible Trivia

In 1 Sam. 4, what did the Israelites bring to aid them against the Philistines?
  • Moses' staff
  • The ark of the Covenant
  • The Ten Commandments
  • The Shroud of Turin