In today’s scripture, a couple of things stood out to me. First, was they way Eli died. He was 98 years old, and a messenger returned from the fields to report on the Israeli battle with the Philistines. The messenger told Eli that both his sons had been killed in the battle, and that the Ark of the Covenant had been captured.
1 Samuel 4:18 then says, “When the messenger mentioned what had happened to the Ark of God, Eli fell backward from his seat beside the gate. He broke his neck and died, for he was old and overweight. He had been Israel’s judge for forty years.”
Also in this scripture we read that the Philistines didn’t want to keep the Ark because the Lord was afflicting them for having it. Eventually they returned it to Israel with a guilt offering. What’s interesting to me here is that the Philistines references the plagues in Egypt as a reason to return the Ark.
1 Samuel 6:6 says, “Don’t be stubborn and rebellious as Pharaoh and the Egyptians were. By the time God was finished with them, they were eager to let Israel go.”
Lastly, it is in this section of scripture where Israel requests a king. Samuel is getting older, and his two sons are not Godly like their father. The leaders of Israel gathered and asked Samuel for a king.
Why did they want a king? The Lord instructed Samuel to warn them about the hardships of having a king; that the king would draft their sons into the army, their daughters to his home, demand 10% of their crops and the best of their cattle. Still the people didn’t care. They wanted a king.
And the scripture tells us why in 1 Samuel 9:20a which says, “We want to be like the nations around us.”
That was the problem then, and frankly its our problem now.
God set the people of Israel apart, they were his chosen people, do show the rest of the world the ways of God. We are that way today. For those of us who believe in Jesus Christ, we are to live our lives as Jesus commanded. And that is in radical opposition to the ways of the world.
Jesus calls us to love our enemies among other things.
And yet too often we don’t do as he said.
We, too, want to be like those around us. We want to be liked and accepted. We want to live our comfortable lives, instead of sacrificing.
We have the same problem today that Israel had in the time of Samuel. We want to be like the world instead of like the Lord.
Today’s reading: 1 Samuel 4:12-8:22
Tomorrow’s reading: 1 Samuel 9:1-12:25