1 Samuel 4


God struck Israel for her idolatry by the Philistines


1 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and camped beside Eben-ezer: and the Philistines camped in Aphek. 2 And the Philistines put themselves in battle formation against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was struck down before the Philistines: and they killed about four thousand men of the army in the field. 3 And when the people came to the camp the elders of Israel said, Why has the LORD struck us down today before the Philistines? Let’s bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh to us, so that when it comes among us it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.


  • They don’t think that they have done anything wrong.
  • In chapter 3 we saw that the word of God was rare. He wasn’t talking to them much because they weren’t listening.
  • James 3:2 tells us that we all offend in much. It is our pride that tells us we haven’t done anything wrong.
  • Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weighs the spirits.
  • Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man will not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.


4 So the people sent to Shiloh to bring from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who dwells between the cherubims: the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 5 And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again. 6 And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout they said, What is the meaning of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp. 7 And the Philistines were afraid for they said, God has come into the camp. And they said, Were doomed! Nothing like this has ever happened before. 8 Were doomed! Who will deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? These are the Gods that struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.


  • Both the Philistines and the Israelites mistook the box of wood covered with gold for God.
  • The whole world had heard what God did to Egypt in Exodus.
  • The plagues proved that He controls all things, including the false things they worshipped.
  • Jesus showed more power when He walked on earth.
  • He proved His control over all nature and man by walking on water and raising the dead.
  • 2Samuel 7:22 You are great, O LORD God: there is none like you, neither is there any God beside You…


9 Be strong, men, O Philistines, that you not become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been to you: be men, fight. 10 And the Philistines fought, and Israel was struck down, and they fled every man to his tent:and there was a very great slaughter; thirty thousand of Israel’s infantry fell. 11 The ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died. 12 And a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line, and came to Shiloh that same day with his clothes torn and dust on his head. 13 And when he came, behold, Eli sat on a seat by the road watching because his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told it, all the city cried out. 14 When Eli heard the noise of the crying he said, What does the noise of this uproar mean? And the man hurried and told Eli. 15 Now Eli was ninety-eight years old; his eyes were so dim that he could not see. 16 And the man said to Eli, I am one that came from the battle line, and I came today from the battle line. And he said, What happened there, my son?


God fulfills His word


17 And the messenger answered and said, Israel has fled before the Philistines. There has been a great slaughter among the people, and also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken. 18 And when he mentioned of the ark of God, Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate. His neck broke, and he died because he was an old man, and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years.


  • This judgment from God, for turning to idols and trusting false things instead of their Maker was foretold in 1 Samuel 2:32-34.
  • God gave them time to return to Him.


19 And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the news that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself in labor; her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said to her, Do not fear; for you have born a son. But she did not answer, nor did she regard it. 21 She named the child Ichabod/where is the glory, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. 22 And she said, The glory has departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.


  • God is always near.
  • He is as close as a prayer.
  • He allows troubles to bring mankind back to Himself from evil.
  • Evil destroys.
  • God is life.
  • These people refused to return to their God.
  • Their ways led their children and those nations around them to eternal death.
  • Yet they had covenanted with God to be the His light to the nations.
  • Ezekiel 1:26-28 describes the glory of God. Acts 17 gives an overview of God’s purpose.
  • Acts 17:24 God that made the world and all things in it, since he is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25… gives to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the boundaries of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if perhaps they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being…


                                            1 Samuel 5


God alone is worthy of worship


1 Andthe Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Eben-ezer to Ashdod. 2 When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. 3 And when those of Ashdod arose early the next day, behold, Dagon was fallen on his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon, and set him in his place again. 4 And when they arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off on the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. 5 Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.


  • The ark of God was the box made of acacia wood and covered with gold.
  • It symbolized God and his promise to become man.
  • The gold represented God’s deity while the wood represented His humanity.
  • The portrayal was fulfilled when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king.
  • False gods didn’t make the heavens and earth, life, human beings, or anything.
  • Romans 14:11… As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will confess to God.


6 But the hand of the LORD was heavy on those of Ashdod, he destroyed them, and struck them with emerods/boils or tumors of the anus, even Ashdod and its borders. 7 And when the men of Ashdod saw this, they said, The ark of the God of Israel cannot stay with us: for his hand is sore on us, and on Dagon our god. 8 So they sent and gathered all the lords of the Philistines to them and said, What are we to do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried to Gath. So they carried the ark of the God of Israel there.


  • God showed them that His power was greater than their false god.
  • Their false god was leading them straight to eternal hell.
  • This was a chance for them to be saved.
  • 2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance.


9 And after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against that city with a very great destruction: and he struck the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts. 10 Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought the ark of the God of Israel to us to kill me and my people. 11 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel; let it return to his own place, so that it not kill me and my people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. 12 And the men that didn’t die were struck with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.


  • God resorts to drastic measures to save manso that man doesn’t perish.
  • In Psalm 107 God allows some difficult things to happen to man to show His power. If man does not turn to God He will burn in hell forever.
  • Revelation 20:15 And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
  • John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him not perish, but have everlasting life.
  • John 10:28 And I give to them eternal life; and they will never perish, neither will any man pluck them out of my hand.


                                            1 Samuel 6


1 The ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners saying, What are we to do to the ark of the LORD? Tell us how to send it to his place.


  • At man’s fall God promised a deliverer.
  • The ark  of the covenant was a representative symbol of that promise.
  • The ark contained the Ten Commandments carved on stone.
  • Man could not live up to God’s holy standard.
  • God promised to provide what was needed.
  • Psalm 57:10 For Your mercy is great unto the heavens, and Your truth unto the clouds.


3 And they said, If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but return to him a guilt offering: then you will be healed, and it will be known why his hand is not removed from you. 4 Then they said, What trespass offering are we to return to him? They answered, Five golden tumors, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on them all, and on your lords. 5 Therefore make images of your tumors, and images of your mice that mar the land; and give glory to the God of Israel: perhaps he will lighten his hand from off you, from off your gods, and from off your land.


  • The Lord is superior to all.
  • The gods of these people were no help.
  • Why worship something inferior when the grace of the Creator of all things is available to all by faith? 


The LORD does wonders


6 Why do you harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When he gleaned among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed? 7 So make a new cart, and take two milk cows, on which no yoke has come, tie the cows to the cart, and bring their calves home from them: 8 Then take the ark of the LORD, lay it on the cart, put the jewels of gold, which you return to him for a trespass offering in a coffer by the side of it, and send it away, that it may go. 9 And watch. If it goes up by the way of his own coast to Beth-shemesh, then he has done this great evil to us: but if not, then we will know that it is not his hand that struck us; it was chance that happened to us. 10 So the men did this; they took two milk cows, tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home: 11 Then they laid the ark of the LORD on the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their tumors. 12 And the cows took the straight way to the road of Beth-shemesh. They went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left; the lords of the Philistines walked behind them to the border of Beth-shemesh. 13 Those of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley: and they lifted up their eyes, saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it. 14 And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Beth-shemite, and stood there by a great stone: so they split the wood of the cart, and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD.


  • God brought back the ark to Israel.
  • The burnt offering displayed God’s great love poured out for man at salvation.
  • 1Peter 1:18 For you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain behavior received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot:


15 And the Levites took the ark of the LORD down, and the coffer that was with it with the jewels of gold, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day to the LORD. 16 And when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day. 17 These are the golden tumors which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering to the LORD; one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Askelon, one for Gath, and one for Ekron; 18 And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fenced cities, and country villages, to the great stone of Abel, on which they set down the ark of the LORD: which stone remains to this day in the field of Joshua, the Beth-shemite. 19 And he struck down the men of Beth-shemesh because they looked into the ark of the LORD; he struck 50,070 of the people: and the people lamented, because the LORD had struck many of the people with a great slaughter. 20 And the men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? To whom will he go from us? 21 And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim saying, The Philistines have returned the ark of the LORD; come and bring it up to you.


  • God is holy and deserves respect: that means that He is infinite knowledge, infinite power, infinite righteousness, infinite goodness, and infinite love.
  • None can stand in the presence of such awesome majesty.
  • God created and holds up all life.
  • Only the priests and Levites were allowed near the ark after proper cleansing.
  • God;s law was inside and these men lifted the Mercy Seat to look inside which removed the covering of their sins.
  • Holiness cannot fellowship with unholiness.
  • After the death of Christ for sin the way for man to approach God was completely open.
  • All sin had been paid for by Christ’s death on the cross.
  • We don’t get struck down when we offend God. The offerings of verse 15 were a thank you to God.
  • Matthew 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks split.
  • Revelation 4:8 Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.


                                            1 Samuel 7


God will deliver us from our enemies when we serve Him only


1 And the men of Kirjath-jearim came and took the ark of the LORD. They brought it to the house of Abinadab in the hill and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep/guard the ark of the LORD. 2 And the ark stayed in Kirjath-jearim a long time; it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD. 3 And Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel saying, If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, prepare your hearts to the LORD, and serve only him, he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. 4 Then the children of Israel put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only.


  • Deuteronomy 6:5 And you will love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
  • Romans 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

5 And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray to the LORD for you. 6 So they gathered together to Mizpeh, drew water, poured it out before the LORD, and fasted on that day and said, We have sinned against the LORD. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.


  • John 17:9 I pray for them: I do not pray for the world, but for those whom you have given me; for they are Yours.
  • 1John 1:9I f we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


7 When the Philistines heard that the children of Israel gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8 And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Do not stop crying to the LORD our God for us that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.


  • God’s people gathered together to return to the one true God.
  • They were going to put God back where He belonged in their lives.
  • The Philistines heard and attacked just like Satan attacks when we decide to put God first in our lives.


God helps in battle


9 And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly to the LORD: and Samuel cried to the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him.

10 And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day on the Philistines, and defeated them; and they were struck down before Israel. 11 And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, pursued the Philistines, and struck them until they came under Beth-car. 12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer saying, The LORD helped us this far. 13 So the Philistines were subdued, and they didn’t come into the coast of Israel again: and the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.

  • These events of the Bible are illustrations of God and our battle against evil.
  • Evil consumes the human race like leprosy consumes the body.
  • It can be stopped.
  • God works through man in this.
  • Samuel was praying.
  • He was teaching the people the truth.
  • He was leading them in ways of righteousness.
  • God was shepherding the nation through Samuel.
  • Hebrews 13:6… we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man will do to me.


14 And the cities that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel delivered its borders out of the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.

15 And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16 He went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places. 17 And returned to Ramah; for his house was there; and he judged Israel there; and he built an altar to the LORD there.


  • James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.




SUMMARY: 1 Samuel 4-7


  • God struck unfaithful Israel by the hand of the Philistines
  • He fulfills His word
  • He alone is worthy of worship
  • He does wonders
  • He will deliver from the hand of our enemies if we worship Him only
  • He helps in battle