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13. And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for 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. And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli.
15. Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see.
16. And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to-day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son?
17. And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fed before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.
Great War, which flashed over the earth, with the sailing ship which Lafayette obtained in which to send to the United States word that peace between that country and Great Britain had been signed in Paris. It was about twenty miles from Ebenezer to Shiloh, and a swift runner would make the distance in four or five hours after the battle. The Jews have a tradition that this runner was Saul, who was of Benjamin, and that before setting out for Eli he snatched the tables of the law out of the hands of Goliath and bore them away with him! With his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head. These were common tokens of great grief. So Joshua and the elders after the defeat at Ai (Josh. 7:6); so the runner who came to tell David
of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan (2 Sam. 1:2); and so Hushai when he came to David after the treason of Absalom (2 Sam. 15 : 32).
13. Eli was sitting upon his seat. Probably his official seat by the outer gate of the tabernacle enclosure, where he was wont to judge the people. It was not by the gate of Shiloh, for the news reached the townspeople before it reached Eli, and he heard the wails and outcries of the people, inquiring what it meant. 15. Eli was ninety and eight
The tragic effect of the account is heightened by inserting here this picture of the very old man, now totally blind, sitting there trembling in his anxiety for the sacred ark which had been taken out of his keeping. Doubtless Samuel, his sympathetic young attendant, was by his side, and we owe this account to him.
16. How went the matter? If Eli had been able to see, the very expression on the face of the woeful, blood-stained messenger would
have told him of defeat, even withEli Receiving the Sad News,
out the rent garment and the earth
on the head. 17. Israel is fled. The messenger leads up skilfully to his climax : the defeat of the army, the terrible number of the dead, the death of Eli's sons ; worst of all, the capture of the ark. The bringer of the sad news must have been a religious man and in sympathy with the aged priest, or he would have made the death of Hophni and Phinehas his climax of woe.
From an old print.
18. And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.
18. He fell from off the seat (which had no back), fainting away. Eli may have been expecting the news concerning his sons; their sudden death in one day had been clearly foretold. The loss of the ark, however, had not been prophesied, and it was the final crushing blow. Not only did it kill Eli, but the tragedy is deepened, for the account goes on to tell how the same awful news killed Eli's daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, and how her babe was named Ichabod, “No-Glory,” for the capture of the ark took all the glory from Israel. “ More than three hundred years before 'a cloud covered the Tent of the Congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.' This was the Glory that had now gone, not to return till a new site for the central altar was chosen, and a new palace for the departed Glory built (1 Kings 8 : 10), when once more ‘the Glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.'” - James Sime.
THE WAGES OF Sin. A merciful prince once condemned his servant to death for a trivial offence. When a friend asked him why he was so severe the prince took a goblet half full of water and asked his friend to put an apple into it ; this done, the water rose to the brim. Then the prince added a small coin, and the water ran
Why should the coin do more than the apple ? ” asked the prince. Thus God is long-suffering, slow to anger ; but there is a point beyond which the wages of sin is death.
LESSON VII. —- May 16.
VICTORY UNDER SAMUEL.
I Samuel 7:2-17.
PRINT 1 Sam. 7:2-12.
Direct your hearts unto Jehovah, and serve him only.
Devotional Reading : Isaiah 55.
Lesson Material : 1 Sam. 7: 2–17.
1 Sam. 3: 19. Junior Topic : A GREAT LEADER PRAYING.
Lesson Material : 1 Sam. 7:2-17.
Memory Verse : Jas. 5: 16.
Additional Material : Luke 22 : 39-46.
Additional Material : Ex. 18:13-26 ; Josh. I : 5-9; Acts 6:1-7.
THE TEACHER AND HIS CLASS. help them in answer to their prayers
as he was to help Samuel and his people. The Younger Classes. - In the Pri- The Intermediates and Seniors. mary and Junior classes the emphasis With these classes the teacher can wisely will wisely be placed, not on the battle go into the vivid details of the struggle but on the prayer of Samuel. Make with the Philistines — the way the ark this a lesson in prayer. The children among the heathen showed the power have their troubles which are as real of God, and the stirring story of the and as urgent to them as the attack of battle. It is a lesson in the victory the Philistines to the Israelites. through prayer that will come to each Teach them that God is as ready to of the boys and girls all through their
lives, if they will arm themselves with The hymn, “ Guide me, O thou great this mighty weapon of the Christian Jehovah.” John Newton's Olney Hymns, warfare.
XXVI. and XXVII. The Older Classes. These events illustrate so many of the qualifications
THE PLAN OF THE LESSON. for leadership — humility before God, decisions, courage, persistence, system, SUBJECT : Victory through Prayer. faith in God and man- that Samuel
I. GOD Shows His POWER TO THE may well be made an example before the class of successful leadership. And
PHILISTINES, 1 Sam. 5:1–7:1. what is more needed than this in the
A savor of death.
The return of the ark. modern world, in the church, the com
A savor of life. munity, the nation, and the world ?
II. God PROMISES His POWER TO THE
ISRAELITES, I Sam. 7: 2–6.
The word of God's prophet.
Purification and repentance.
God's POWER IN
ANSWER TO the taking and return of the ark is III. B.C. 1142 ; for the events of this lesson,
PRAYER, 1 Sam. 7:7-17. B.C. II 21.
The great need.
The earnest prayer. Place. The exact site of Eben-ezer
The glorious answer. is unknown. It was in Benjamin, to
Thanksgiving and memory. the north of Bethel.
THE TEACHER'S LIBRARY.
Expositions, by Alexander Maclaren. FOR RESEARCH AND DISCUSSION.
Henry Ward Beecher's great sermon,
“ Memorials of Divine Mercy (SerGreat occasions when the ark was a factor.
mons, Vol. III.). Chapter on “The Victories in Bible times won by God's power. The Bible doctrine of prayer.
Golden Mice and Emrods" in An ExMemorial stones in the Bible.
positor's Note Book, by Samuel Cox. The value of thanksgiving in life.
iv The Ark at Beth-shemesh,” by Hugh The secret of Samuel's power.
Macmillan, in Jesus in the Cornfield.
Hastings's Great Texts of the Bible on THE LESSON IN LITERATURE.
1 Sam. 7:12.
Matheson's Moments on
the Mount, p. 201. F. B. Meyer's The fall of Dagon before the ark is Through the Bible Day by Day. Spurdescribed in Paradise Lost, I., 457 ff. geon's Morning by Morning, p. 365.
I. GOD SHOWS HIS POWER TO THE PHILISTINES, 1 Sam. 5:1-7:1. This is a lesson in God's power and how it may be obtained. The disastrous defeat of the Israelites at Eben-ezer, resulting in the capture of the ark and the death of Eli, was an illustration in capital letters of human weakness without God. That was the warning ; now for the encouragement.
THE ARK BEFORE DAGON. It was the custom of both the Hebrews and the Philistines to place war trophies in their sanctuaries ; therefore after the capture of the ark the sacred chest was taken to Ashdod, the chief city of the Philistines, and placed there in the temple of their principal god Dagon, the same god in whose honor ihe lords of the Philistines were sacrificing in Gaza when Samson pulled down the house over their heads (Judg. 16:21 ff.). Dagon was originally the god of agriculture or of fishing. His statue had the head and hands of a man and the body of a fish. The ark was placed before Dagon to indicate the triumph of the Philistines' god over that of the Hebrews ; but the next morning the reverse was proved, for Dagon was flat on his face on the temple floor. They set him up again, and the next morning he lay across the threshold, his head and hands broken off.
“ Let Jesus enter, and the dearest idols you have known will yield before him. Dare admit the Saviour into the cret place of your heart. He will drive out the evil things that have too long infested it." - F. B. Meyer.
THE ARK AND THE PLAGUE. To indicate still more the power of God, a plague of mice (or rats) was sent upon Ashdod (1 Sam. 6:4, 5), followed by a plague of boils, probably what we now call the bubonic plague, a terrible disease that is spread by the agency of rats. In despair at the large number of deaths, connecting them with
2. And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjath-jearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.
the presence of the ark, the Philistines of Ashdod transferred the sacred chest to another of their five cities, Gath, about sixteen miles to the east. Gath was the home of Goliath, and the refuge of David when pursued by Saul. The Crusaders built a fortress on the site of the city. Around the site of Gath the British fought the Turks in the Great War. At Gath also the plague broke out, so that the ark was moved to Ekron, the most northerly of the five cities. The plague came there also and killed many, so that the people demanded that the ark be returned to the land of the Hebrews.
THE ARK RESTORED TO THE HEBREWS. On the advice of their priests and diviners, the Philistines made golden mice and golden tumors, one for each of their cities, and placed them in a coffer for a trespass offering. Thus the Israelites made the brazen serpent in the wilderness (Num. 21 : 4-9). This coffer, with the ark, the Philistines placed on a new cart, to which they tied two milch kine that had never been used for ordinary purposes, the Philistines taking their calves home with them. “Now," said the priests and diviners, “ we shall know that these plagues have come from Jehovah if the kine, instead of going home to their calves as they naturally would do, go over to the country of the Hebrews." This the kine did, going straight to Beth-shemesh (“House of the Sun”), the nearest Hebrew town to the east, lying on the edge of Judah about twelve miles southeast of Ekron. Here the kine stopped by a great stone on which the men of Beth-shemesh sacrificed them, splitting up the wood of the cart for a fire. All this the Philistine chiefs saw as they followed at a distance, and returned home made certain that their woes had come upon them through the power of the Hebrews' God.
“ We need to have our eyes lifted up from material things and purged with the spiritual eye-salve
Dagon. of faith, that we may see the Ark of God standing in our harvest-field. Each autumn, with the pot of manna within it as the pledge of God's faithfulness to his great world-covenant, that seed-time and harvest shall never cease, it passes this way with unfailing regularity, more precious than the golden sheaves, more glorious than the autumn sunshine." Hugh Macmillan.
THE ARK A SAVOR OF LIFE. But the ark was still a savor of death” to the careless and ungodly ; for when the men of Beth-shemesh handled the sacred chest heedlessly, looking into it with irreverent curiosity, the Lord smote seventy of them (all agree that the addition, and fifty thousand," crept into the text through some editor's or copyist's blunder). In terror the Beth-shemites sent for the men of Kirjath-jearim, the City of Thickets,” nine miles west of Jerusalem and about nine miles northeast of Beth-shemesh, the nearest town on the way to Shiloh. Shiloh itself was probably in Philistine hands at this time, so that the ark was not taken back there. Kirjath-jearim itself was under Philistine influence, which will explain why the ark remained there until David's victories freed the land from the Philistine peril, and the shepherd king brought the ark in triumph to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6). During all that century the ark remained in the home of Abinadab in the hill, his son Eleazar being solemnly consecrated to take care of it ; and here it was no longer a savor of death” but “ a savor of life.”
II. GOD PROMISES HIS POWER TO THE ISRAELITES, 1 Sam. 7:2-6. 2. It was twenty years that the ark spent at Kirjath-jearim — not before it was
3. And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only; and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.
4. Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only.
5. And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD.
taken from there, for that was much longer, but before the reformation under Samuel which is about to be described. During all this time all the house of Israel lamented after Jehovah. The pious among the Israelites could not forget that their central sanctuary was despoiled, the holy symbol of the presence of Jehovah was in a strange resting-place, and the insolent supremacy of the Philistines showed the displeasure of Jehovah. It was a time that called loudly for repentance and reform.
3. Samuel was the second Moses of his people. He saw clearly that what they needed was not an army, but Jehovah ; and in order to get back Jehovah they must turn to him with all their hearts, and prove their repentance by putting away the heathen gods that they were worshipping with the abominable heathen rites.
The If of the promise is to be noted carefully. God's promises of help and of blessing are always conditioned on our willingness and ability to receive the fulfilment of them. Not all his ocean of love can enter a closed reservoir. The Saviour knocks at the door and will gladly enter - if — we open the door.
4. Put away the Baalim (the male deities, often local gods) and the Ashtaroth (the female deities). Putting them away involved the destruction of their images and the cessation of the shameful rites performed in their honor. And served Jehovah only. God is a jealous God and allows his followers to have no other gods before him (Ex. 20 : 3, 5). He does not accept any service that is divided with any one or anything else. “ It must be' Him only,' if it is Him at all. Real religion
is exclusive, as real love is. The hands that would clasp him, and be upheld by the clasp, must be emptied of trifles.” Alexander Maclaren.
5. This reform, so briefly related, must have taken some time to accomplish. When the hearts of the people had been thus turned to Jehovah, Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh. The probable site of Mizpeh (“ the Watch-tower") is a lofty hill, 2935 feet high, about five miles northwest of Jerusalem. Its modern
name, Neby Samwill, reMizpeh.
calls its connection with
Samuel. At Mizpeh the Israelites assembled for their campaign against Benjamin (Judg. 20 : 1), for the election of Saul as king (1 Sam. 10 : 17), and again, in the time between the Old and New Testaments, when Judas Maccabæus called for national humiliation in preparation for their revolution against the despotic Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Macc. 3:42-46). “ It shows what a wonderful power Samuel exercised, how deeply his passionate appeals influenced the nation, that almost unarmed and undisciplined, with no military commander to inspire them with confidence and lead them to victory, they provoked a contest with a foe greatly superior in equipment and force, and animated by a long series of successes." - Rev. William J. Deane. And I will