Self Will Or God's Will
(Helpful to Sunday School Lesson of May 9, 1920, 1 Samuel 4:5–18)
“The ark of the Lord was come into the camp.” The Lord was revealing Himself to Samuel in Shiloh, where was the ark of the Lord. The sons of Eli had cut off the presence of God and the vision of God. Samuel had arisen as the known and accepted prophet of God, and manifestations of the presence of God were again taking place in Shiloh. The Philistines were arrayed against all Israel, the Israelites were losing, and, knowing of the power in the ark of God, and that God was manifesting Himself in Shiloh, some of the men departed to go to Shiloh and bring the ark.
This was simply the will of men, self-will, not the will of God. There was no prayer as to what they were to do with the ark, and no looking to God’s prophet as to the outcome of the battle. God had already told His prophet that He was going to judge the sons of Eli, and their part was to expect the judgment. It is so in our day. Men are doing everything to bring the blessing of God that has departed from many places, and are trying, through energies of the flesh and through enthusiastic maneuvers and enjoyments of the flesh to bring again the glory of the Lord among the people; but never does the glory come and the victory come until sin has been purged and until judgment has been executed. They might bring the ark, but unless they bring it in the will of God there is no power in it, except a power for cursing, as you will see if you read on in this narrative.
Belshazzar drank from golden vessels. However, he did not drink blessing, but rather drank death to himself and a curse to his dominion and to a thousand of his lords. The two sons, who were vile persons, came with the ark, and the blessing that the ark might have been in battle was not in evidence, but it was rather a curse in the bringing of judgment upon these two vile men.
“When he made mention of the ark of God.” Eli could stand the shock of the news of the slaughter; he could stand the shock of the death of his two sons, for God had already warned him of this, but the thing that chilled his soul to the marrow and made him fall backward from his seat by the gate and break his neck, was when it was mentioned that the ark of God was taken. Every bit of hope fled from his heart.
So was it with Samson. He dallied and dallied, he trifled with the power of God; but he shook himself one day and the power had vanished. Can you imagine the awful shock to his soul? It is a wonderful thing when a Christian knows that even though he is saved God will not let sin go unpunished in his life. The death penalty has been taken on the cross, and every really born again person believes that, but if any sin has entered into your life confess it quickly and let the Lord put it away; for God must judge sin in every life.
Jesus stood and wept over Jerusalem as He saw that His glory must leave Jerusalem, that He must withdraw His hand and let the curse come; He must pull back His help and let the judgment fall. He weeps with unutterable anguish, as He knows what is to come upon a stiff-necked and rebellious generation. God pity you, dear Christian heart, if you continue stiff-necked, with hardened heart and stubborn will, and do not break before God. Jesus weeps like a parent would weep over an erring boy. God must chastise and He will chastise. O, quickly confess; come close and break up before Him.
No wonder the poet sang:
“How tedious and tasteless the hours
When Jesus no longer I see,
Sweet prospects, sweet birds and sweet flowers
Have all lost their sweetness to me.”
Poor Eli, the prophetic vision had left him, the glory had departed. The scene that follows is one of the most remarkable pictures in all literature, and beneath this picture is the title “Ichabod,” saying, “The Glory is departed from Israel.”
Beloved, look around you and see God getting ready to write “Ichabod” on much that is called “Christianity,” and be sure that through these coming days of apostasy you keep close to Him, that Ichabod may not be written on your forehead. “A broken and a contrite heart” He will not despise. Amen.