We can’t put God in a box. We can’t get God out of the box when we need some God, and stuff him back when we don’t. But suppose we could. Would we want that? What if we lost the box? Pastor Luke preaches from 1 Samuel 4:12–22 in “Ichabod,” part 3 of his 7-part series “The Saga of the Lost Ark.”
Questions for Consideration
OPEN: 1. When have you needed to deliver bad news? How? —did you just come out with it, or try to soften it (add a “silver lining,” etc.)?
UNPACK: 2. The messenger who ran to Shiloh (1 Samuel 4: 12) had torn his clothes and put dust on his head, a symbol of grief and distress (see Joshua 7: 6). What rituals do we have to do the same thing today? Can you think of some that are unique to Christians?
3. Read 1 Samuel 2: 12–17. If religious leaders act wickedly, is that a special, unique type of evildoing? Why or why not?
4. Read 1 Samuel 2: 30-35, where God judges Hophni and Phineas. Some interpret Israel’s defeat in battle and the loss of the Ark as God carrying out that judgment. What are some arguments in favor of that interpretation? What are some arguments against it?
5. How many specific reports are given to Eli? Which one kills him? By describing Eli’s death that way, what was the writer saying?
6. Eli is portrayed as a good man but weak. His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phineas, appears to be pious (given her concern for the Ark). Why do they have to die? (Did they “have to” die?)
APPLY: 7. Unlike the runner (v. 12) , we know how the story turns out. What encouragement could you give Eli about the battle?
8. What consolation could you give to Phineas’ wife? Should you?
9. Think of a time when God’s “glory had departed” from you (v. 21). How might this reading help you when God is, or seems, absent?