I SAMUEL 4:21-22: “She called the boy Ichabod [No Glory], saying, “Israel’s glory is gone,” because the ark of God had been captured and because her father-in-law and her husband ⌊died⌋. “Israel’s glory is gone because the ark of God has been captured,” she said.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: When does the glory of God leave? The word “glory” in the Hebrew literally means “weight”. It refers to God’s moral purity, power, beauty, and authority. It also conveys His divine favor and care for His people. When Phinehas’ wife was giving birth, in her last living words she proclaimed – “Israel’s glory is gone.” She even name her child “Ichabod” (No Glory!). What did this mean to her? What does this mean to us?
Israel had just been defeated by the Philistines. In the first battle they lost 10.000 men. Someone had the bright idea that all they had to do was bring the Ark of the Covenant in their midst to turn the tide of the battle. Surely then the glory of God would be with them! However, this was not the case. Not only were they defeated, Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas were killed, the ark was taken by the Philistines, and 30,000 soldiers were killed! When Eli heard the news he fell backward in his chair, broke his neck and died. What happened? When did the glory of God leave?
The first lesson we can learn from this story is that the glory of God does not reside in the outward trappings of our religious practice. The power, beauty, authority, and favor of God is not found in the beauty of stained glass windows, or in the symbols of the cross. We cannot take false assurance in the trappings of Christianity if the heart of Christianity is not present. There are many churches all over the world that are simply going through the motions, trusting in rituals and creeds, symbols and tradition, and the glory has left a long time ago. The Ark of the Covenant could not save Israel, because it did not hold the glory of God – it only symbolized it!
The second lesson we can learn is that the recipient and depository of the glory of God is the humble and repentant heart of man. Israel’s heart had hardened long before their battle with the Philistines. Eli, the priest, had dismissed the evil practices of his two sons who led Israel into sin and idolatry. When the hearts of Israel turned away from the Lord in disobedience and pride – the glory of God departed. This happened long before they ever encountered the Philistines in battle, and long before the Ark was ever lost in battle. Like most of us, Phinehas’ wife connected the dots and came to the wrong conclusion. Indeed the glory had departed from Israel, but not for any of the reasons that she connected to the events that had just take place.
Oh how we need the presence of God in our midst! Oh how we need the glory of God to be upon us! We can do nothing in our own strength. If we place our faith and confidence in our own strength, our own wisdom, or in the false hope of religion we will soon discover that the glory is gone! The only place the presence and glory of God resides is in the humble heart of faith. The power, beauty, authority, and favor of God delights to abide in the hearts of those who recognize their need for Him, and who are always postured to give back the glory of His favor in worship and praise.
- “The LORD’s eyes scan the whole world to find those whose hearts are committed to him and to strengthen them…” (2 Chronicles 16:9a GW)
- “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:6-10 NKJV)
Lord, forgive me for the times when I put my trust in anything other than You. This morning I humble myself before You and ask You to give me the “more grace” I need to walk in Your power, beauty, authority, and favor today – to walk and abide in Your glory!
In Jesus Name!