Do you have a good luck charm? Some baseball players sleep with their bat in their bed, some football players get trainers to smack them across the face to pump them up before a game, and some hockey players dip their stick in a toilet to teach it respect. 1 Samuel 4 – 7 is all about a story when the nation of Israel had reduced God down to their own cute little good luck charm. So be thinking, “Do you use God as your own personal good luck charm?” Let’s take a good look at this passage and our lives.
During the time when the God’s prophet (Samuel) was judge over Israel, God’s people went to war against the Philistines. This was a very sinful time for the nation of Israel. The Bible never said God called them to war. But they went to war, were defeated, and lost a few thousand men (4:2-4). After wondering why God had allowed them to lose, they went back and got the Ark of the Covenant thinking, “Surely it’s the key to victory and what we forgot. We’re such idiots!” Remember, the Ark of the Covenant was the throne (a box) of God where His visible, fiery presence would rest on the mercy seat (which was the lid), and it contained important memorabilia representing Israel’s salvation like the 10 Commandment tablets, manna, Moses’ staff, etc. So here comes the holy Ark of the Covenant representing God’s special presence…paraded in by two priest-rock stars who were violent, raping, thieves: Hophni and Phinehas. Needless to say, Israel lost way more men in that battle. God was saying, “I will not be used!”
The question that this story is begging to be answered really is, “Are you using God for your good, or do you want God to use you for His glory?” Do you do your devotions, pray, go to church, and maybe even tithe just to get a better life? God will not be used! In very short timing, God judged Israel by having them defeated, having their two rock star-priests slaughtered, having their one good priest (Eli) die by the snap of his neck, and the Ark of the Covenant gets hijacked by the Philistine terrorists! What a day.
The Philistines take the Ark of the Covenant into their own temple and place it at the feet of their god: Dagon. Well, God Almighty would have none of that! The Philistines wake up the next morning, and the huge Dagon idol is lying facedown before the Ark (God). After picking him back up that day, they come in the next morning and poor, powerless Dagon is back on his face in a position of worship…but this time with his head chopped off (Gen 3:15)! After that, a nationwide epidemic of tumors, and rats infesting their land, the Philistines get the point and return the Ark of the Covenant to Israel. Here, God is saying that because of His people’s sin, He will go into captivity, He will destroy His enemies, and He will return. God will bring about salvation all by Himself. It’s a picture of the gospel of Christ: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus!
So the Ark ends up at Abinadab’s house, and Samuel addresses God’s people. Israel tried to use God for their good rather than let God use them for His glory. God users are such losers! Do you use God for your good rather than allow God to use you for His glory? Samuel addressed the people with 10 things to change from being a God user to being used by God (1 Sam 7). God users, listen up here! 1. Return to the Lord with all your heart…hold nothing back. 2. Put away all pagan gods…everything that you put before God. 3. Direct your heart to the Lord by serving Him only. 4. Have a spiritual mentor pray for you. 5. Personally fast and pray. 6. Confess your sin to God. 7. Trust in the sacrifice of Christ by repenting and believing. 8. Fight against evil. 9. Enjoy the victory only by God and only for His glory. 10. Make a memory to remind yourself of God’s faithfulness in your life. So there you go. Which one are you? A loser who is a God user, or do you come to God on a daily basis to be used by Him for Jesus’ glory?