As a Lenten practice during this season, clergy and leaders in the church from youth to elders will be sharing their devotions.
Scripture: 1Samuel 4-8
Key verses: (4:4-8) So the people sent to Shiloh, and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
5 When the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. 6 When the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, “What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come to the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid; for they said, “Gods have come into the camp.” They also said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. 8 Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness.
Reflection: Heavenly father, we welcome the words of this scripture today and may the stories & lessons brought to us by your prophet, Samuel, inform us and guide us in this season of Lent.
With the book of Samuel, we’re introduced to three characters: Samuel, Saul, & David. Samuel is one of God’s prophets and is the son of Hannah. We’re also get to see more of the “ark of the covenant” which instantly reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Raider’s of the Lost Ark! The Israelites are fighting the Philistines and the Israelites have received the ark for use in battle. The books of 1&2 Samuel foreshadow for us a King that is to come from the line of David: Jesus!
The passages from today show us how two groups of people are fighting over what has become a sort of trophy or an idol: the ark. The ark is not God, but represents God’s dwelling place and presence. It is used in this text as a weapon in war! We too often get confused between things signifying God’s presence, and God’s presence itself, and unfortunately we too often use God’s name or words in our own cultural battles.
Hannah, unlike these two parties who are at war, does know her Lord. She says “there is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2) and is not focused on a trophy (ark), but on the Lord. The lesson for us today is to see that our relationship with God is not centered around any idol in our lives whether that be an actual ark or our modern idols of money/wealth/ power. God is not a possession to be passed around like a hot potato! Instead of being manipulated for our purposes, God is to be obeyed, enjoyed, and loved by all.
Prayer: Lord, we learn today that you oppose the proud and you lift up the humble. Lord, let us be like Hannah and her son, Samuel. Lord, may we stop our baseless worship of earthly idols. Instead, Lord, may we raise You and praise You during this Lenten season. Amen!
Author: Edwin Peacock, Elder class of 2023
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].