1 Samuel 4-8 When God is not enough

Read 1 Samuel 4:1-10

When God is not enough:

1)   You try to manipulate God

When they first went into battle and lost they thought that the reason that they were not winning was because they did not bring the ark of the covenant into battle with them.  They did not look at the fact that there was sin in the temple and the worship of God was not done properly.  The philistines were afraid at first because the spirits of the soilders let out such a loud shout that it could be heard 2 miles away. The Philistines remembered the stories of the Exodus and what God did to Egypt and they became scared.

The reason I said they tried to manipulate God is because carrying your god, or part of your gods, with you into battle was something foreign armies did. The Ark became like many treat gold crosses today when they put more significance in them than they do even Jesus. The Ark became a religious symbol and not the presence of God.  God is not  restricted by a Gold Box but they thought if they brought the Ark into battle then God would have to give them the victory.

This reminds me how some of the other religions in our society have been mixed in with Christianity.  Christians that do not study their Bibles have begun to mix in other religious practices into Christianity. There is new age mysticism mixed in with some of the teaching that is being proclaimed on television. Some of the so called Christian teaching today is really another religion altogether.

Acts 17:11 says Paul was checked by the church when they went and reviewed scripture to make sure what he was teaching was the truth.  We should do the same with every teacher of God’s word because so much of what is being taught today and sold in bookstores is really a false religion. Some will teach you that if you have enough faith and if you just believe then God has to do what you are asking Him to do. This is manipulation and we have to be careful when we treat God like a genie instead of a God who deserves our worship.

We cannot use Prayers of Faith or take a scripture out of context to get God to do what we want. When we pray we do pray by Faith that God knows what is best and we pray, as Jesus did, that His will be done. (See Matthew 26)

 1 Samuel 4:12-22

Eli the Priest was sitting near the gate where he would sit to judge and because he was blind could only hear the people weeping and asked someone what had happened. The man told him the sad news of his two sons but when he told him that the Ark was captured Eli fell off his seat and died. It was Eli’s responsibility to oversee the Ark of God and he knew it was his fault that it was taken and he knew that it was not to be sent into battle.(Later the Ark would be taken into battle but at this time it was not supposed to)

Eli allowed the desires of the people to undermine his authority and his spiritual responsibility.  His Daughter in law went into labor early when she heard about her husband and the Ark of God  being taken. With her dying breathe she named her son Ichabod which means the Glory of God has departed.

God used the Philistines to punish the corrupt religious system and to bring about the curse on Eli and his sons that He had warned him about twice.

1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?(See Also Deuteronomy 8:5; Hebrews 12)

God always disciplines His own children first. We need to stop looking for the world to change and start looking inward at the church and begin looking at our own behaviors and wrongful thinking.

In 1 Samuel 6 the Israelites took the Ark of the Lord and looked inside and they died but the Philistines did not. If we want the world to change and for God to do something then we have to know that He always starts with His children first. So never look for God to punish and unbelieving world first but always look for Him to start with His own children.

1 Samuel 5:1-6

2)   You worship other gods

So the philistines take the Ark and they place it in front of their god Dagon, which was a creation of half fish and half man.

 Dagon

It was the same god they gave credit to when they defeated Samson. (Judges 16:23)  God allowed the Ark to be captured so that He could show His power to an unbelieving nation. So the Philistines place the Ark in front of Dagon and the next morning Dagon is face down in front of the Ark. So then they set Dagon up again and this time they  tied the statue up(Isaiah 41)  so that it will not fall but in the morning not only did the statue fall, it fell violently to the point that the hands and head were severed. The hands and feet being severed was execution style like you see in some of the reports overseas.

You would think that after seeing this display of power from God that they would realize He is the true God who is worthy of our worship but instead of seeing the power of God they begin to worship the ground.  Zephaniah 1:9 says that God has a warning for those who worship the ground and not Him.

Romans 1:18-23For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

We all have gods we worship over the true God. We place our faith in the stock market, in electing the right president, in the appointment of judges all the while we forget where the real power lies.  God will throw those things down in your life and show you they are nothing compared to Him. He will execute them and destroy them so that you can see that He is the true God.

 1 Samuel 5:7-12

The Philistines did not want to get rid of the Ark because it was such a prize possession. But because of disease and sores (hemorrhoids) they kept moving the Ark to different cities that the Philistines had hoping that it was a coincidence. Each town experienced the same fate and pain so great that the Bible says a great cry went to Heaven which meant very loud screaming and crying. Sinners will continue to live in misery simply because they do not want to give up their sin and their lifestyle. The denial of God can be so powerful in a persons life that they destroy their own lives and the lives of others to prove He does not exist.

1 Samuel 6

In verse 6 they said they did not want to harden their heart like Pharaoh which meant they knew the destruction would continue to happen if they did not send the Ark back to the Israelites. When you cannot get rid of the fact that there is a God you will try and get rid of anything that reminds you of Him. If you cannot disprove God then you can at least remove any rememberance of Him so that you do not think about Him. I have heard that there have been lawsuits over powerpoles being removed simply because they looked like a cross. (www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/3156744/posts)

The Philistines devised a plan to get rid of the Ark  involving a new cart (probably covered) with two cows that had calves. Even though God had shown Himself strong they wanted to make sure that it was Him and not just a coincidence that the sores and disease followed the Ark from City to City. They hooked these two cows up to a yoke that had never been yoked before and if the cows pulled the cart all the way back to the Israelites (8-10 miles away) without going to the left of the right (meaning eating) or turning back for their calves (their maternal instincts) then they would know it was from God. Before they sent it back they made gold tumors and mice as an offering to God. Some of the Philistine Leaders followed behind and watched the whole thing and the cows never once fought against each other, turned to eat or turned to go back to their calves. Some say there was a fork in the road and one way would lead the cows  home and the other way toward the Israelites and they went the right way.

God again showed Himself strong and there was no doubt that it was God who was doing this. Those who followed the Ark must have went home with a sick feeling that the god they were worshiping was not the true God.

Read 1 Samuel 7:5-11

3)   Fear rules your life

Samuel stepped up at this point and brought the people to a time of confessing their sins, repenting from them, and then fasting and praying. Samuel gathered them all up at Mizpah and the Philistines, who still doubted the work of God that they witnessed firsthand, tried to use this as an opportunity to destroy them. 

This was a vulnerable time for Israel and they were not ready for an attack. When you trust in your army, or your ability and always being ready when things come at you that you do not expect, then fear will rule your life. When they had no option but to pray that is what they did and God answered their Prayer. Samuel did not wield a sword like Gideon, or have the strength of Samson but he had a prayer life like his mother (1 Samuel 2) and with that prayer life he sought the true God who could do more than we would ever ask for.  We do not pray like we should because we trust in our abilities more than we trust in God.

Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

For 20 years there was peace in Israel because of this event along with the regaining of  territory they lost in previous battles.

Where are you putting your trust? When God is not enough you will fear the unknown. Some put their trust in elected officials, some put their trust in job security, some put their trust in their own ability, but all of those things will fail you. If God can send a storm so loud that it scatters and scares an army then He can take care of you.

When life does not go the way we think it can cause us to ask many questions but the main one we seem to ask if “what if?” We do not have to ask What if” when we know we have the “I Am”

Read 1 Samuel 8:1-9, 19-21

4)   You will try and do it the world’s way

After all the things God brought the people through and how He fought their battles for them they still thought it would be best to have a King. Samuel prayed first before answering them which is something we all should do and when he went to God, God let him know that it was not Samuel they were rejecting but Him.

Samuel tried to warn them about what a King would become but they refused to listen. They wanted a King because that is how the rest of the nations did it. God granted their prayer request even though it was not His will for them.  God will allow you in your stubbornness to go the wrong way. Even Garth Brooks wrote a song thanking  God for unanswered prayers. Unanswered prayers are not because God does not love us it just because He sees what we do not see.  When we get to Heaven we are going to praise God for not answering some of our prayers that is why we need to always pray, “Not my will but yours”

One of the things you will sometimes hear preachers say is that if you have a verse of scripture then you claim that promise and God has to answer it. The Israelites had a scripture of God promising them a King like all the other nations.

Deuteronomy 17:14-15 When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.

God promised them a King but they did not want to wait for Gods timing.  God was preparing them a King but they did not want to wait 10-13 years for King David and so they kept asking for a King like selfish children and God gave them what they asked for.

Read 1 Samuel 8:18

God lets them know that one day they will cry out for relief from the King and He will not hear their prayer. It is not that God will not hear them it is that they will have to live with the consequences of their disobedience and stubbornness. Because they chose to walk away from God does not mean they were not saved, per se, it means that God will allow you to suffer because you ignore Him. Romans chapter 1 says, “God gave them up” 3 times to the sin they were pursuing. Yes forgiveness is always available but the consequences to yourself and your loved ones can last a lifetime.

We live in a society that wants to make things happen and sometimes we take the things of God and do them before God was ready for us to have them. The preachers on television would tell you to have your verse of promise and claim it and God has to answer it. Yes God will always answer His promises but again, Faith in God is Faith in His timing” Neal A. Maxwell

Is God enough? Is He enough when the rest of the world is telling you He is not? Is God enough when life takes a turn you were not expecting? Is God enough when your neighbors have more stuff than you?

When God is not enough you tend to Manipulate God, turn to other gods, experience fear, and do it the worlds way and not His. Most people treat God and Jesus as an addition to the way they do things instead of them being all they need. We treat God like a good luck charm when we make our plans and expect Him to bless them. We need to start with repentance today and turn back to Him and ask Him to forgive us for not trusting Him.

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