SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
1 Samuel 3:1-4:22
3:1 Now the boy Samuel continued serving the Lord under Eli’s supervision. Receiving a message from the Lord was rare in those days; revelatory visions were infrequent.
2 Eli’s eyes had begun to fail, so that he was unable to see well. At that time he was lying down in his place, 3 and the lamp of God had not yet been extinguished. Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord as well; the ark of God was also there. 4 The Lord called to Samuel, and he replied, “Here I am!” 5 Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back and lie down.” So he went back and lay down. 6 The Lord again called, “Samuel!” So Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli said, “I didn’t call you, my son. Go back and lie down.”
7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord; the Lord’s messages had not yet been revealed to him. 8 Then the Lord called Samuel a third time. So he got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me!” Eli then realized that it was the Lord who was calling the boy. 9 So Eli said to Samuel, “Go back and lie down. When he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back and lay down in his place.
10 Then the Lord came and stood nearby, calling as he had previously done, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel replied, “Speak, for your servant is listening!” 11 The Lord said to Samuel, “Look! I am about to do something in Israel; when anyone hears about it, both of his ears will tingle. 12 On that day I will carry out against Eli everything that I spoke about his house—from start to finish! 13 You should tell him that I am about to judge his house forever because of the sin that he knew about. For his sons were cursing God, and he did not rebuke them. 14 Therefore I swore an oath to the house of Eli, ‘The sin of the house of Eli can never be forgiven by sacrifice or by grain offering.’”
15 So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the Lord’s house. But Samuel was afraid to tell Eli about the vision. 16 However, Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son!” He replied, “Here I am.” 17 Eli said, “What message did he speak to you? Don’t conceal it from me. God will judge you severely if you conceal from me anything that he said to you!”
18 So Samuel told him everything. He did not hold back anything from him. Eli said, “The Lord will do what he pleases.” 19 Samuel continued to grow, and the Lord was with him. None of his prophecies fell to the ground unfulfilled. 20 All Israel from Dan to Beer Sheba realized that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. 21 Then the Lord again appeared in Shiloh, for it was in Shiloh that the Lord had revealed himself to Samuel through a message from the Lord. 4:1 Samuel revealed the word of the Lord to all Israel.
The Ark of the Covenant is Lost to the Philistines
Then the Israelites went out to fight the Philistines. They camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines camped at Aphek. 2 The Philistines arranged their forces to fight Israel. As the battle spread out, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about 4,000 men in the battle line in the field.
3 When the army came back to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why did the Lord let us be defeated today by the Philistines? Let’s take with us the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. When it is with us, it will save us from the hand of our enemies.”
4 So the army sent to Shiloh, and they took from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who sits between the cherubim. Now the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 5 When the ark of the covenant of the Lord arrived at the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the ground shook.
6 When the Philistines heard the sound of the shout, they said, “What is this loud shout in the camp of the Hebrews?” Then they realized that the ark of the Lord had arrived at the camp. 7 The Philistines were scared because they thought that gods had come to the camp. They said, “Woe to us! We’ve never seen anything like this! 8 Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all sorts of plagues in the desert! 9 Be strong and act like men, you Philistines, or else you will wind up serving the Hebrews the way they have served you! Act like men and fight!”
10 So the Philistines fought. Israel was defeated; they all ran home. The slaughter was very great; 30,000 foot soldiers from Israel fell in battle. 11 The ark of God was taken, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were killed.
12 On that day a Benjaminite ran from the battle lines and came to Shiloh. His clothes were torn, and dirt was on his head. 13 When he arrived in Shiloh, Eli was sitting in his chair on the lookout by the side of the road, for he was very worried about the ark of God. As the man entered the city to give his report, the whole city cried out.
14 When Eli heard the outcry, he said, “What’s this commotion?” The man quickly came and told Eli. 15 Now Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes looked straight ahead; he was unable to see.
16 The man said to Eli, “I am the one who came from the battle lines! Just today I fled from the battle lines!” Eli asked, “How did things go, my son?” 17 The messenger replied, “Israel has fled from the Philistines! The army has suffered a great defeat! Your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead! The ark of God has been captured!”
18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward from his chair beside the gate. He broke his neck and died, for he was old and heavy. He had judged Israel for 40 years.
19 His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and close to giving birth. When she heard that the ark of God was captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she doubled over and gave birth. But her labor pains were too much for her. 20 As she was dying, the women who were there with her said, “Don’t be afraid! You have given birth to a son!” But she did not reply or pay any attention.
21 She named the boy Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel,” referring to the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, because the ark of God has been captured.”