Eli’s End

Friday, Mar. 17                                  

1 Sam. 4 tells us how the prophecies concerning Eli and his sons were fulfilled.  Israel had fallen away from the Lord and God was using the Philistines to bring them to repentance.  Here’s a summary of what happened.  Israel went to battle against the Philistines and were soundly beaten, losing about 4000 men.  The elders of Israel were aghast, wondering why God had let them down.  They took the ark that was under Eli’s care in Shiloh, and took it into battle.  The Israeli soldiers were elated and confident, and the Philistines were deathly afraid because the God who had plagued the Egyptians would be in the Israeli camp.  The outcome was a surprise to both sides.  The Israelites again were soundly beaten.  A survivor of the battle returned to Shiloh to report the news to Eli, mentioning that Israel had lost 30,000 men, as well as Eli’s two sons.  But there was a bit of a silver lining here.  For Eli, the worst news was that the ark of the covenant had been taken by the Philistines.  His sons deaths and the deaths of 30,000 men didn’t seem to bother him, but when he heard about the ark being captured, he fell out of his chair, broke his neck and died.  To his credit, he was more concerned about God’s reputation than his own.  So Eli died on the same day as his sons, as the prophet had predicted.  He didn’t really need to worry about the ark.  God was quite able to do that.  And that’s another fascinating story.

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