Tradition believes that, on this day, the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines. In addition to this tragedy, Hophni and Pinchas, the sons of the High Priest Eli, were killed and the High Priest died as well. It was also on this day that a message was delivered to the people of Israel in the form of a child. This is recorded in 1 Samuel 4.
“Now his daughter-in-law, Pinchas’s wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, for her labor pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, “Do not fear, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer, nor did she regard it. Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.” (1 Samuel 4:19-21)
This describes an awful day in Israeli history, one that many did not think possible. Yet it was the day when Ichabod arrived, and the glory of the Creator departed from His dwelling place. Like Samson who awoke to discover that his God-given strength had left him, Israel was shown, in dramatic fashion, that God will allow His people to go through tragedy if they don’t turn from their sins. In this account, we also learn that, before He brings judgment upon a nation, He always has a Samuel waiting in the wings, ready to land the people in repentance, after the crisis has passed.
As we look around the world, today, we see so many things – natural disasters, political upheaval, economic crises – that testify the world is about to undergo a dramatic shift. Many will be taken by surprise when these events bring about that shift. Some seduced themselves into thinking that God would never allow such things to happen, but history teaches us that, oftentimes, it’s God who orchestrates these things. When He does, typically, it’s not in order to attract the world’s attention but to get through to His people.
Whether or not these world-changing events occur in our lifetime, let us determine to be like Samuel in this scenario. The name Samuel means, “God heard,” referring to the fact that God heard the prayers of his mother, Hannah. But it could also mean, “he heard God.” Let us be the ones who can hear God speak in the still of the night and answer His call. Let us be the ones who are hearing what the Father is saying in these very tumultuous times, and may we be the ones who are positioned to help those who failed to hear Him before the glory departed.