When Defeat Opens the Door For the Lord to March In the Territory of the Enemy

Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament book of First Samuel which describes the days of Samuel the prophet in Israel, as well as the days of Saul the first king of Israel, and David who would succeed Saul as king of Israel. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters five through nine of this Old Testament book. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will not only find the people of Israel defeated before their enemies—namely the Philistines—but you will also find the Ark of the Covenant being captured by the Philistines and brought into their territory. If and as you read the words which are written and recorded within the fourth chapter you will find that while it begins with the declaration that the word of Samuel came to all Israel, it would continue with Samuel describing how Israel went out against the Philistines in battle. Moving along even further into this chapter you will find that the children of Israel were in fact defeated at the hands of the Philistines who had put themselves in array against them. In fact, Samuel describes that when the children of Israel and the Philistines were joined in battle against one another, the Philistines had overcome the children of Israel and had slaughtered of the army of the people of God about four thousand men. As a direct result of this great defeat before and at the hands of the Philistines we find the people entering into the camp, and the elders of Israel asking why the LORD had smitten them this day before the Philistines. Upon thinking about and considering this reality they decided to go and get the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD out of its place in Shiloh, in order that when it came up unto them it might save them out of the hands of their enemies. The people which were in the midst of the camp sent to Shiloh that the Ark of the Covenant might be brought from its place in Shiloh unto the camp where the soldiers and men of war. It’s worth noting that when the Ark of the Covenant was indeed brought among the camp which was over and against the Philistines the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas were with the Ark of the Covenant of God. Hophni and Phineas you will recall were described as sons of Belial who not only showed no regard for the sacrifices of the living God, but also committed fornication and adultery with the women who came unto Shiloh to present their offerings before and unto the living God. As the scene unfolds there at Ebed-ezer you will find that when the Ark of the Covenant made its way into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again. Upon hearing the noise of the shout of the children of Israel the Philistines inquired as to what the sound of the great noise had meant. It would later be discovered that the reason for the great noise and the reason for the great shout was because the Ark of the Covenant of the living God had come in among the children of Israel—a noise and sound that struck fear in the hearts of the Philistines within their ranks and in their camp.

The narrative found within the fourth chapter continues on to reveal how as soon as the Philistines realized and recognized that the noise of the shout was because the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the camp of the children of Israel, and as a direct result of this they were sore afraid. It’s interesting and worth noting that the children of Israel shouted for joy when the Ark of the Covenant entered into the camp of the people of God, while the Philistines were sorely afraid—not only because of the sound of the shout, and not only because they brought the Ark of the Covenant in the midst of the camp, but also because they perceived that God had come into the camp. This is actually quite an astonishing reality when you think about and consider it, for even though the children of Israel brought the Ark of the Covenant into the midst of the camp and assumed it would save them out of the hands of their enemies, they would still experience and suffer defeat at the hands of the Philistines. What’s more, is that it is worth noting that while it is true the enemy perceived—or at least thought they perceived—that the God of the Hebrews had come into the camp, they would still engage them in battle and conflict. Upon continuing to read the words found in this chapter you will notice that the Philistines were sore afraid because they perceived that God had come into the camp, and they cried out unto each other saying, “Woe unto us! Who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? These are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.” Please don’t miss and lose sight of what is written and recorded within this particular passage of Scripture, for while the people of God shouted because of the presence of the Ark of the Covenant, and while the Philistines cried out because they perceived that the God of Hebrews had possibly come into the camp, they would both still engage in conflict and battle with each other. Despite the fact that the Philistines were sore afraid when they heard the noise of the shout, and then heard that the Ark of the Covenant had been brought up into the camp, they would still attempt to encourage themselves to engage the children of Israel in battle there at Ebed-ezer. It’s worth our recognizing and understand these realities here on the battlefield, for these realities help us understand just how devastating the events which would unfold on this particular day truly were.

Upon reading and considering the words that are found in the fourth chapter you will find that on the one hand the people of God assumed that the presence of the Ark of the Covenant would mean they would be delivered out of the hands of their enemies, while on the other hand you will find the Philistines assuming that God had come into the camp, and were sore afraid when they learned and discover that the Ark of the Covenant had entered in among the people of God. WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD SHOUT, WHEN THE ENEMY IS AFRAID, AND THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE STILL DEFEATED BEFORE THEIR ENEMIES! Perhaps what is so incredibly captivating about that which is written and recorded in this chapter is that the people of God assumed that the presence of the Ark of the Covenant would deliver them out of the hands of their enemies, and yet they would still suffer a tremendous defeat at the hands of the Philistines. Moreover, the Philistines assumed that because the Ark of the Covenant had come up among and come up into the camp of the children of Israel that the living God had come up in the midst of them. I would dare say that the Philistines might very well have been incredible fearful when they learned and discovered that the Ark of the Covenant had entered into the camp, for although they had defeated the children of Israel earlier, the Ark of the Covenant would now be among them within the camp. Scripture records and reveals how the Philistines perceived—or at least thought they perceived—that the God of the Hebrews had come into the camp, and that the living God would now fight on behalf of the children of Israel. They had obviously heard all the reports of how the God of the Hebrews had smote the Egyptians with plagues in the midst of the land, in order that He might deliver the children of Israel out of their oppression, bondage, slavery and affliction. It’s important for us to recognize and understand the perception the Philistines had, for it would actually prove to be quite significant in the very next chapter. The fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel describes how the people of God would suffer two great losses and two tremendous defeats at the hands of the Philistines—and not only would they suffer defeat at the hands of the Philistines, but they would also experience and witness the Ark of the Covenant being captured by the enemy and adversary. As you continue reading the fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel you will find the people of God suffering defeat and loss at the hands of the Philistines, you will find the Ark of the Covenant being captured by the enemy and adversary, you will find the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phineas—being killed in the midst of the battle, and you will even find Eli the high priest dying upon hearing the news that his two sons were dead, and that the Ark of of the Covenant had been captured by the enemy.

DEAD PRIESTS! DEFEATED PEOPLE! CAPTURED ARK! Pause for a moment and think about the narrative that is written and recorded within this passage of Scripture, for it can essentially be summarized with these three statements. If you come to the end of this chapter you will not only find the two sons of Eli being killed in battle—those sons of Belial who committed fornication at the Tabernacle and who abused the offerings of the LORD—but you will also find the high priest who ministered in the Tabernacle at Shiloh falling to his death upon hearing news that both his sons had been killed, and that the Ark of the Covenant had been captured by the enemy. What’s more, is that you will find the people of God suffered two devastating losses and two devastating blows at the hands of the Philistines, as the Philistines would continue to engage them in battle and conflict, and would smite them in the midst of the land. What’s more, is that the Ark of the Covenant would be captured and would now be in the hands of the enemy. As if it weren’t bad enough that in the third chapter we read that the word of the LORD was precious and rare, and that there was no open vision in the land—now we read that even though the word of the LORD was beginning to manifest itself in the midst of Israel once more, there would be devastating blows that would take place in the narrative of the people of God. The fourth chapter of this Old Testament book of First Samuel must be clearly understood, for when you come to the final verses of this chapter you will find Eli’s daughter in law—the wife of Phineas—giving birth to a son, and yet upon hearing that the Ark of of the Covenant had been captured, she would name the child born unto her “Ichabod,” which literally means “The Glory is departed from Israel.” THE ARK OF GOD WAS TAKEN! Please don’t miss the significance and importance of these words, for the final words of the fourth chapter are only eight words in length, and yet they present us with a tremendous picture of tragedy and devastation. It would be one thing for the people of God to be defeated before the Philistines, and it would be one thing for the people of God to suffer great loss and casualties before their enemies, but it would be something else altogether for the Ark of the Covenant to be captured and taken by the enemy. The question I can’t help but ask myself when reading the words which are found in this chapter is which is the greater tragedy—the people of God being defeated by and before their enemies, or the Ark of the Covenant of God being taken. We would like to focus on the defeat of the people of God, and we would like to think that was the greatest tragedy, and yet the greatest tragedy found and contained within this chapter had absolutely nothing to do with the people of God themselves, but rather with the Ark of the Covenant being taken and captured by the enemy. It’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that the living God would even allow His glory and His presence—or at least the symbol of those realities—to be captured and taken by the enemy in the first place.

COULD THE LIVING GOD HAVE KEPT THE ARK FROM ENTERING INTO THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY? COULD THE LIVING GOD HAVE PREVENTED THE ARK FROM BEING TAKEN BY THE ENEMY? MOREOVER, COULD THE LIVING GOD HAVE PREVENTED HIS PEOPLE FROM SUFFERING DEFEAT AND LOSS BEFORE AND AT THE HANDS OF THEIR ENEMY? The more I read and consider the words that are found in the fourth chapter of the book of First Samuel the more I can’t help but come face to face with and encounter the awesome reality that the LORD God of the Hebrews could very well have kept the Ark of the Covenant from falling into the hands of the enemy and adversary, and yet instead of keeping the symbol of His glory and presence from falling into the hands of the enemy—it’s almost as if He willingly, deliberately and intentionally allowed it to be taken by the enemy. Before we get into that which the living God of the Hebrews might very well have desired to accomplish, it’s worth noting that when the fourth chapter of this Old Testament book concludes, it does so with the priests of the LORD dead, the people of God defeated, and the symbol of the glory and presence of the living God being in the hands of the enemy. Pause for a moment and consider the magnitude and gravity of this situation, for it has the ability to dramatically impact how you read and view the events which unfolded in the midst of the land of Israel. In a chapter that would begin with the declaration that the word of Samuel came to all Israel we find the people of God you will not only find the priests of the LORD who ministered in His holy sanctuary in the midst of the land, but you will also find the very symbol of the glory and presence of the living God being captured and taken by the enemy. DEFEATED PEOPLE AND DEAD PRIESTS! It’s actually quite tragic when you think about and consider the fact that within the fourth chapter of this Old Testament book we find so much devastation that took place in such a short period of time. What’s more, is that it’s almost as if the enemy and adversary—that same enemy and adversary which previously had been sore afraid—would actually go out with a high hand, and would even gloat against the people of God. The fourth chapter would end and conclude with the people of God being defeated before their enemies, and the priests who ministered before the altar in the Tabernacle and sanctuary of the LORD would be dead. The high priest Eli and his two sons Hophni and Phineas would all be dead with the two sons of Eli being killed in battle.

Perhaps the greatest reality that I can’t help from considering and thinking about when reading the words in the fourth chapter is not only did the presence of the Ark of the Covenant keep the children of Israel from being defeated by the Philistines, but it also could and would not keep the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phineas—from being killed in battle. Moreover, it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phineas—would find their way to the battlefield, for the LORD had purposed that they be killed and put to death. Oh there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if the LORD not only allowed the Ark of the Covenant to be brought to the battlefield in order that it might bring these two sons of Belial into the place of the sword, and into the place of battle. I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that it might very well have been the divine will and purpose of the LORD to have the children of Israel call for the Ark of the Covenant to be brought to the battlefield in order for the two sons of Eli to accompany the Ark to the place of the sword. It would be there in the place of the sword where not only would these two sons of Belial be struck down and killed with the sword, but also where the Ark of the Covenant would be captured and taken by the enemy and adversary. I would dare say that the living God was indeed and was in fact up to something, and that even in the midst of the people of God being defeated before and at the hands of their enemies, the LORD was still working among them in their midst. I fully realize and recognize that this might seem like an absolutely and utterly insane line of thinking, however, if we believe according to Scripture that all things work together to the good of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose, then we must understand that even in the defeat of the people of God, and even in the capturing of the Ark of the Covenant, the LORD was still moving and working among His people in the midst of the earth. I firmly believe that despite the fact the people of God were defeated before their enemies, and despite the fact that the Ark of the Covenant was indeed taken and captured by the enemy, the living God of the Hebrews was still working among them in their midst, and was still accomplishing His divine purpose and will. It would be very easy for us to look at the defeat of the people of God and the capturing of the Ark of the Covenant, and to think that God had somehow abandoned His people, and yet as we will see—not only in the fourth chapter, but also in the next chapter—how the LORD would continue His work in the earth. It would be as you come to the fifth chapter of this Old Testament book that you will begin to catch a glimpse of what the living God was up to in the midst of the children of Israel, as well as in the midst of the territory of the enemy.

I am completely and utterly convinced that in order for us to understand that which is found and that which is written in the fifth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel it is necessary and imperative that we understand that which is written and found in the fourth chapter. I firmly believe that what we find in the fourth chapter is indeed a truly wonderful and truly remarkable picture of what the LORD would accomplish—not only according to that which was revealed in the opening chapters of this book, but also that which would not yet be accomplished. As I continue to read and study the narrative that is found in the fourth chapter I am amazed at the fact that the defeat of the people of God not only fulfilled and would bring about that which the LORD had already purposed and revealed unto Eli the high priest, but it would also fulfill and accomplish something that wasn’t yet revealed. I believe that what we find in the fourth chapter of this Old Testament book not only points back to what the LORD had already spoken through a man of God, but also what the LORD would accomplish in the very next chapter among the Philistines in the midst of their own land. It’s worth noting and it should be strongly considered that the defeat of the people of God and the capturing of the Ark would each fulfill and each accomplish their own unique purpose and their own unique function in the divine plan of God. IN order to understand this more completely, I invite you to consider the words which were spoken unto Eli the high priest by a man of God who came unto him according to the word of the LORD:

“And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? And did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel? Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people? Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house. And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever. And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age. And this shall be a. Sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phineas; in one day they shall die both of them. And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever. And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests’ offices, that I may eat a piece of bread” (1 Samuel 2:27-36).

The words which were spoken unto Eli the high priest in Shiloh were stinging words of denunciation and rebuke, and not only emphatically declared that both he and his sons had grown fat off the offerings of the people of Israel, but they would also pronounce judgment upon and against the house of Eli, which would include his two sons. It’s interesting and worth noting that the defeat the people of God suffered and experienced at the hands of the Philistines would actually serve a purpose which was perhaps even greater than that which they could even think of or imagine. There is not a doubt in my mind that the defeat of the people of God would be the divine tool that would be used in the hand of God to bring about the death of Eli’s two sons Hophni and Phineas by the sword of the Philistines. The more I read the narrative and account that is written and recorded within the fourth chapter of the book of First Samuel the more I can’t help but encounter the strong reality that even though the people of God suffer defeat at the hands of the Philistines, their defeat would serve and accomplish something far greater than they could even think or imagine. Even the capture of the Ark of the Covenant would serve its own unique purpose, for upon the Ark being captured it would be brought into the territory of the Philistines. As you will find out and discover when reading the fifth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel, the Ark of the Covenant would be brought into the land and territory of the Philistines, and it would actually serve a very specific purpose there in the midst of the territory of the enemy and adversary. With that being said, it’s actually worth noting and considering that there might very well be times within our lives when what we see before is complete and utter defeat, and yet in the midst of and through that defeat the LORD is actually accomplishing a great work and a great purpose among us within our lives. We dare not think or even believe that what we see and perceive as defeat within our hearts and lives cannot be used in the hands of the living God in order that He might accomplish and fulfill something far greater and far more powerful than we could even think or imagine. I am convinced there are times within our lives when we might very experience what looks like defeat, and we might very well experience what looks like the enemy and adversary having the upper hand, and yet what we might not see is the unseen hand of God moving and working behind the scenes. There are times within our lives when what we experience might very well seem and appear as though it is a major defeat, or even a major setback, and yet what we don’t oftentimes see is the invisible and unseen hand of God that is working and moving behind the scenes to fulfill and accomplish that which He desires within our lives.

IF there is one thing I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by when I read the words which are found in the fourth and fifth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel it’s the fact that although the children of Israel had suffered two losses and defeats at the hands of the Philistines—one of which actually resulted in the capture of the Ark of the Covenant—there is a sense of the purpose of God that is found and contained within them. The fourth chapter begins and opens up with the declaration that the word of Samuel came to all Israel, and is then followed by a statement concerning Israel and the Philistines engaging themselves in warfare, conflict and battle. This is truly unique when you think about and consider it, for it points to and reveals the tremendous reality that the Philistines were still in the picture, and the Philistines were still wreaking havoc upon the children of Israel. We are first introduced to the Philistines being raised up against the children of Israel during the days of Jephthah when the LORD raised up certain and specific enemies and adversaries against the children of Israel. We don’t really see or hear too much about the Philistines in the narrative of Jephthah, for the main and underlying enemy and adversary Jephthah faced and engaged would be the children of Ammon. It would be the children of Ammon whom Jephthah would deliver the children of Israel from, and yet after the days of Jephthah we find an angel of the LORD appearing unto the wife of.a man from Dan by the name of Manoah. IT would unto this woman that the angel of the LORD would declare and reveal that she would conceive and bring forth a son which would be holy and consecrated unto the living God, and would begin to deliver the children of Israel out of the hands of the Philistines. The story of Samson begins with the children of Israel doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD not only delivering the children of Israel into the hands of the Philistines, but allowing them to be oppressed by the Philistines for a period of forty years. It would be Samson who would begin the process of delivering the children of Israel out of the hands of the Philistines, and it is important that we recognize and understand this, for although Samson was a tremendous scourge of God toward and against the Philistines, he would not be the one who would completely and utterly deliver the children of Israel out of the hands of the Philistines. Samson would be mightily used by the living God to unleash a powerful reign of terror against and upon the Philistines, however, all the work he would do against the Philistines—much of it within their own territory—would only be the beginning of the work which the LORD wanted to do in the midst of His people. Samson would in fact be a might judge in Israel and would unleash a reign of terror upon the Philistines, however, everything he did during his days and in his generation would be the tip of the spear in the hand of God toward and against the Philistines.

When and as you come to the fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel you will find the children of Israel continuing to contend with the Philistines, and continuing to engage themselves in conflict and battle with them. We learn and discover in the Old Testament book of Judges that the LORD delivered the people of God into the hands of the Philistines for forty years, and here we are in the book of First Samuel and we find and discover the tremendous reality that the Philistines were still a thorn in the side and in the flesh of the children of Israel. The days of Samuel were about to begin in the nation of Israel, and the people were still dealing with the Philistines who might not oppress them as they did during those forty years mentioned in the book of Judges, but they most certainly would continue to provoke them and seek to afflict them. What we find in the fourth chapter of the book of First Samuel is the children of Israel engaging the Philistines in battle and setting themselves up in array against them, however, the children of Israel would be defeated in battle by the Philistines. It’s worth noting and considering that when the LORD brought His people into the land of Canaan, He never intended on them being defeated before and in the presence of their enemies. When the LORD brought His people into the land which was sworn unto their ancestors, He never intended that they be servant and subject to the nations and peoples round about them. The entire Old Testament book of Judges is one continual treatise concerning the pattern of the children of Israel doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, the LORD delivering them into the hands of certain of their enemies, the children of Israel being oppressed and afflicted by their enemies, their crying out to the LORD in the midst of their suffering and oppression, and the LORD raising up a judge who would deliver them out of the hand of their enemy and adversary. What is actually quite telling about the narrative that is found in the Old Testament book of Judges is that even though the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, the LORD would not deliver them into the hands of all their enemies all at once. We do know that the LORD delivered His people into the hands of their enemies and adversaries, however, we must also recognize that there was an element of mercy that was displayed in the book of Judges, for the LORD could have delivered them into the hands of all their enemies at once. The LORD could have very easily delivered the children of Israel into each and every one of their enemies round about, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply wasn’t the case. The LORD would indeed deliver His people into the hands of certain enemies and adversaries, however, the LORD would not raise up all the nations and peoples round about them to oppress and afflict them. During the days of the Judges the LORD would indeed raise up adversaries and enemies that would oppress and afflict them—much like he did during the latter days of Solomon king of Israel as a result of his turning away his heart from following and serving the living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and even his own father, David.

The fourth chapter of the book of First Samuel reveals how the defeat which the children of Israel experienced and suffered at the hands of the Philistines would most certainly be something that would have been difficult for the children of Israel to deal with, handle and bear, and yet the more I read and consider the narrative of defeat, the more I can’t help but get the strong sense that the LORD was accomplishing something very specific in the earth—not only in the land of Israel, but also in the land of the Philistines. I brought you face to face with the words which the man of God had spoken unto Eli the high priest at the Tabernacle in Shiloh, and how the man of God declared unto Eli that his house would be brought to an end, and that the sign and pledge of the word of the LORD was that both of his sons would die in a single day. Before we read of the children of Israel engaging in battle against the Philistines we find the LORD purposing to put to death the two sons of Eli because of their fornication at the Tabernacle of the living God, and even their abuse of both the offerings and the people of God. Within the first three chapters of the book of First Samuel we find the LORD beginning to raise up Samuel as a prophet and judge in the midst of the land of Israel—and in all reality, the last and final judge in the midst of the land of Israel before the reign of the kings would emerge. In the first three chapters of the Old Testament book of First Samuel we find the raising up of a faithful servant in the house of the LORD, and the destruction of a rebellious and disobedient house that became fat off the offerings of the people, and which despised the offerings of the living God. In order for us to truly understand and comprehend that which is written and found in the fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel it is necessary for us to understand the prophetic word that was spoken unto Eli through the man of God, and how the LORD desired to bring to an end the house of Eli, and to put to death both of his sons in a single day. When we come to the children of Israel engaging in conflict and battle against the Philistines, we find them initially suffering and experiencing defeat at the hands of the Philistines, and four thousand among them being put to death by the sword. It would be this defeat that would bring them to the place where they would call for the Ark of the Covenant to be brought into the midst of the camp. In the fourth chapter we go on to find and read how when the Ark of the Covenant came into the camp of the children of Israel there was great joy and jubilation because they thought that with the Ark of the Covenant among them in the midst of battle it would deliver them out of the hands of their enemies.

As I sit here this morning and think about and consider the scenes which unfolded in the fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel I can’t help but think about the fact that the initial defeat which the children of Israel experienced and faced might very well have been used in the hand of the living God to allow the Ark of the Covenant to be brought forth into the midst of the camp, as well as for Hophni and Phineas to come into the camp alongside the Ark. It would be two priests of the sanctuary and Tabernacle, as well as the presence of the Ark of the Covenant that would cause the children of Israel to shout with such a voice of triumph that the earth would ring again, and would be heard by the Philistines. When the Philistines heard the noise of the shout in the midst of the earth they wondered at what was the nature and cause of the shout, only to learn and discover that the cause of the shout was the Ark of the Covenant being brought into the midst of the camp of the children of Israel. The thought of the Ark of the Covenant being brought into the midst of the camp of the children of Israel would strike fear and terror in the hearts of the Philistines, for they perceived that the God of the Hebrews—the same God that unleashed great plagues against the land and people of Egypt and would destroy their army in the waters of the Red Sea—had entered into the camp. Despite the fact that they were seized and gripped with fear, they would encourage themselves in the midst of battle, and would strengthen themselves to engage the children o fIsrael in battle. OF course the narrative goes on to reveal that the children of Israel would once more be defeated by the Philistines—and not only would they be defeated at the hands of the Philistines, but the two sons of Eli would be killed in the midst of the battle, and the Ark of the Covenant would be captured by the Philistines. When the fourth chapter of this Old Testament book of First Samuel concludes, it does so with the decoration that the glory of Israel had departed, and that the Ark had been taken. By the time we come to the final portion of the fourth chapter of the book of First Samuel we find the people of God defeated before their enemies, we find the high priest and his two sons of Belial all dying, and we also find the Ark of the Covenant being captured and taken by the enemy. We must realize, however, that the LORD would use defeat in battle to bring about the death of the two sons of Eli according to the word which was spoken by the man of God which came and appeared unto Samuel. If there is one thing we must realize and recognize concerning this second defeat, it’s that it actually helped serve the divine purpose and will of the living God, as through this defeat the LORD would bring about the death of the two sons of Eli because of their adultery, immorality, and iniquity at the Tabernacle of the living God there at Shiloh.

Moving into the fifth chapter of the book of First Samuel you begin to notice something unexpected taking place—something which no man or woman in all Israel would or could even think, perceive or imagine. As you come to the fifth chapter of the book of First Samuel you will find the Ark of the Covenant being brought into the territory of the Philistines—and not only being brought into the camp and territory of the Philistines, but also being brought into the house of their God, Dagon. Initially, it seems almost and utterly absurd when you think about the fact that the living God would allow His Ark of the Covenant to be captured and taken by the enemy and adversary—and not only captured and taken by the adversary, but also brought into their territory and placed in the house of their god. Undoubtedly the Philistines not only thought that by them capturing the Ark of the Covenant they had somehow conquered the people of God, and even overcome their God who had once delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians as He destroyed both their people and land with great plagues, judgments, signs and wonders. There is not a doubt in my mind that the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant and brought it back among them into their land and territory, and did so almost as a trophy of battle, for with them having the Ark of the Covenant, it was almost as if they had captured and taken the God of the children of Israel captive as well. I can’t help but wonder if the Philistines captured and took the Ark of the Covenant, and almost treated it as a prisoner of war, for the Ark of the Covenant would be brought into the land and territory of the Philistines where it would be placed in the house of their God. Undoubtedly the Philistines perceived that their god Dagon was more powerful and supreme over the God of the children of Israel, and they placed it in the house of their god Dagon in order that it might be a testament that their god Dagon was somehow stronger and more powerful than the God of the children of Israel. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that the Philistines thought and perceived that by capturing the Ark of the Covenant from the children of Israel they had somehow gained the upper hand—not only over the children of Israel, but also over the Lord their God whom they were fearful and terrified before the previous battle had ensued and taken place. Undoubtedly the Philistines thought and perceived that their capturing of the Ark of the Covenant was somehow a triumph over the God of the Hebrews, for with the Ark of the Covenant in their possession, the God of Israel would Himself be captured and removed from the people of God. I can’t help but wonder if the Philistines initially thought that their capturing and taking of the Ark would now give them a greater authority over the children of Israel, and would help make them a powerful people in the midst of the earth.

What we find when we come to the fifth chapter, however, is something that I guarantee you neither the children of Israel, nor the Philistines expected. Oh I would dare say that the events which unfolded in the fifth chapter of the book of First Samuel were such as none from among the Philistines even thought or imagined would or could take place. I wrote earlier that the defeat of the children of Israel at the hands of the Philistines would accomplish the divine purpose and will of the living God, and what we find in the fifth chapter of this Old Testament book points to and reveals this absolutely tremendous reality. In the fourth chapter we see how the defeat of the people of God brought about the deaths of Eli’s two sons who were killed in battle, and even the death of Eli when he heard that the people of God had been defeated in battle, and that the Ark of the Covenant had been captured and taken. There is absolutely no doubt and no mistaking the tremendous reality and truth that the defeat of the children of Israel at the hands of the Philistines would bring about and accomplish the word which the man of God had spoken unto Eli the high priest there at Shiloh. There is absolutely no denying the fact that the defeat of the people of God would bring about the fulfillment of the prophetic word that was spoken by the man of God who had appeared unto Eli earlier on in this narrative and story. As we come to the fifth chapter of the book of First Samuel—when it seemed as though all hope was lost, and when it seemed that the enemy and adversary now had the ultimate authority and dominion over the people of God—we find something unexpected taking place and happening. In fact, It is what we read and what we find in the fifth chapter of the book of First Samuel that we encounter a second manifestation and second work which was brought about and accomplished by and with the defeat of the people of God. We know from the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the book of First Samuel that the people of God were defeated, and that the Ark of the Covenant was captured and taken by the enemy and adversary, however, what we find and what we read in the fifth chapter is a truly wonderful and remarkable picture of how the Ark of the Covenant being captured and taken by the enemy—and not only being captured and taken by the enemy, but also being brought into their land and territory—would accomplish something far beyond anything the swords, spears, slings, bows and arrows of the children of Israel could every accomplish. That which is present within the fifth chapter of the book of First Samuel is absolutely astonishing and remarkable, for what we find in this chapter is a work being done which only the LORD Himself could do. It’s interesting and worth noting and considering that when the Philistines realized the Ark of the Covenant had been brought into the camp they perceived that the God of the Hebrews had entered into the camp—the same God which had unleashed great plagues of judgment against the Egyptians when the children of Israel were in bondage, slavery and oppression in that land. What is actually remarkable when you consider it is how the Philistines perceived that the God of the Hebrews had come into the camp when the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the midst of it, and yet when they brought the Ark into their own land and territory they did not think, nor did they even perceive that the same God would or could enter into their territory.

BRINGING GOD INTO THE CAMP OF THE ENEMY! BRINGING GOD INTO THE TERRITORY OF THE ENEMY! If there is one thing I can’t help but consider when reading the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel, it’s that not only did the Philistines bring the Ark of the Covenant into their land and territory, but they would also set the Ark of the Covenant in the midst of the temple of their god Dagon. Pause for a moment and consider this, for if you follow the logic of the Philistines who upon hearing that the Ark of the Covenant had entered into the camp perceived that the God of the Hebrews had entered into the camp, then you must also follow that same logic and come to the conclusion that their bringing the Ark of the Covenant into their own land and territory would indicate the living God of the Hebrews had entered into their territory. WHEN THE ENEMY BRINGS GOD INTO THEIR TERRITORY! WHEN THE ENEMY BRINGS THE GLORY OF GOD INTO THEIR TERRITORY! WHEN THE ADVERSARY BRINGS THE GLORY OF GOD INTO THEIR LAND! It is truly astonishing to think about and consider the fact that it was the Philistines themselves who brought the Ark of the Covenant into their land and into their territory—and not only did they bring it into their territory, but they also brought it into the temple of their god Dagon. We dare not and must not miss this absolutely incredible fact, for it is this reality which points to and reveals the second fulfillment of the divine purpose and will of God through the defeat which the people of God suffered at the hands of the Philistines. The fifth chapter of the book of First Samuel is actually truly unique when you think about and consider it, for what we find in the fifth chapter of the book of First Samuel is something no one among the Philistines expected or imagined would or could take place. If you begin reading with and from the opening verse of the fifth chapter you will find that the presence of the Ark of the Covenant—the presence of the symbol of the glory and presence of the living God—would begin to accomplish something in the midst of the territory of the Philistines, which no child of Israel could accomplish. What is present before us in the fifth chapter of the book of First Samuel is the LORD doing a work in the midst of the territory and land of the enemy and adversary which the children of Israel could not have accomplished themselves. The presence of the Ark of the Covenant in the midst of the territory of the Philistines would actually invite the glory and presence of the living God into the land of the enemy and adversary, as the LORD would now do a work in their land and territory—much like the LORD did in the land of Egypt. Consider if you will the words which are found in the fifth chapter of this Old Testament book beginning with the first verse of the fifth chapter:

“And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Eben-ezer unto Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again. And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon 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 upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day. But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and He destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof. And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god. They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of God of Israel about thither. And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts. Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us, and our people. So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven” (1 Samuel 5:1-12).

The words which are written and recorded within the fifth chapter of the book of First Samuel is actually quite powerful when you think about and consider it, for when the Philistines brought the ark of God among them into their land and into their territory, they placed it in the temple of their god Dagon. ON the following morning, however, we find that Dagon had fallen on his face before the ark of God there in his own house. WHEN FALSE GODS FALL DOWN IN WORSHIP BEFORE THE LORD IN THEIR OWN HOUSE! The Philistines would put Dagon back in his place, and yet when the following morning came, they found Dagon not only fallen down before the Ark of the Covenant, but they also found his head having been cut off, and both palms of his hands being cut off and on the threshold of the house. It’s worth noting that when the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the territory of the Philistines, it would first humble their god Dagon, and it would first bring low their god Dagon whom they worshipped. Before we read of anything else taking place we first find the Ark of the Covenant of the God of Israel fell Dagon the god of the Philistines—and not only did it fell Dagon their God, but it also caused his head and both palms of his hands to be removed and severed from his body. Once the LORD had humbled Dagon the god of the Philistines, he would then unleash a fury of terror in the midst of the territory of the Philistines, for he would plague the city of Ashdod with tumors which would come upon all their men. Moreover, Scripture would reveal that the hand of the LORD very heavy and sore upon the city of Ashdod, and He wrought a great destruction there in the midst of the city. Ultimately, the Ark of the Covenant would be brought from Ashdod unto Gath by the Philistines themselves, and the hand of the LORD would be heavy there in Gath as well, as the LORD would smite them with tumors and would unleash a great destruction there as well. As if this weren’t enough, we find the Ark of the Covenant being brought into Ekron, and even there in Ekron the hand of the LORD would be heavy against them, and the LORD would smite them with tumors as well. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this absolutely astonishing reality, for it brings us face to face with just what the Ark of the Covenant would and did do in the midst of the territory of the Philistines, for the Ark of the Covenant would unleash a great destruction within and upon the Philistines in three of its five major cities. How absolutely remarkable and astonishing it is to think about and consider this reality, and how the living God would indeed bring about a great destruction in the midst of the territory of the Philistines—one that none of the children of Israel could even think or imagine. Oh how absolutely powerful it is to think about and consider the fact that the LORD would and could unleash such a fury and reign of destruction within and upon the land of the Philistines, and would plague them in a similar manner as He had plagued the land of Egypt together with the inhabitants thereof. Oh that we would recognize the tremendous outcome of what would appear to have been defeat in the eyes of the children of Israel, for it would appear they would have been defeated by the enemy and adversary only to find and discover that the LORD Himself would enter into the camp and territory of the enemy and adversary.

WHEN THE LORD ENTERS INTO THE TERRITORY OF THE ENEMY! There is tremendous language that is found in Scripture about the LORD going before the people of God in battle, and yet what we find within this passage is something quite different from that reality—although it is something that is truly powerful when you think about and consider it. It is is true the LORD goes before His people in battle, but what we find in this passage is not necessarily the LORD going before His people in battle, but the LORD actually entering into the territory of the enemy and adversary, and the LORD unleashing a great destruction in the midst of the territory of the enemy and adversary. What we find within this passage is a truly remarkable and astonishing picture of the living God entering into the camp and territory of the enemy, and unleashing a tremendous reign of terror against them—one that would bring about a great destruction and judgment upon them. Oh that we would recognize and understand this, for it points to and reveals the absolutely wonderful and astonishing reality that the people of God can indeed experience the power of God in the territory of the enemy, as the LORD can enter into the territory of the enemy and unleash a tremendous destruction among them in their midst.

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