After the death of Eli’s sons due to their sin, the nation of Israel lived under the rule of their last judge, Samuel. Samuel was the last of the judges because the people of the nation rebelled against God and demanded that a king like other nations. Samuel was upset, but at God’s insistence Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel. God assured Samuel that the people had not rejected Samuel, but they had rejected God instead.
God’s desire and intention was that the people would be presided over by a heavenly king—Himself— and that no earthly king was needed. God gave them their earthly king but warned them of the laws this king could enact and the many rules the people would now have to follow. The Israelites didn’t trust God and so they willingly placed themselves under the rule of the earthly king.
Saul was not interested in leading God’s people and from the very beginning tried to hide during his public revealing. Saul’s attitude would change little, and by wilfully ignoring God’s commands for leading His nation, Saul ultimately would be rejected by God. God’s intent was to rule the people as their heavenly King, but the Israelites didn’t trust that plan. God had a better plan waiting, a plan to send His Son, Jesus. Jesus would be the perfect King who would bring peace and salvation to the world.
In our last story, Samuel shared about the sin Eli’s sons were committing at God’s temple. The story this week, “The Ark Was Captured,” is one example of the things they allowed to happen to the tabernacle and its furnishings. The ark of the covenant was a symbol of God’s presence with the people. As the Israelites battled the Philistines, they lost a battle quite substantially. Instead of asking God what happened, they decided it would be a good idea to go get the box of God, the ark of the covenant, and bring it into battle with them.
When confronted with this message from the battlefield, Eli’s two sons thought it was a great idea and sent the ark from the tabernacle to the battle. Not only did the Israelites’ strategy not work, but the ark was captured by the Philistines and both of Eli’s sons were killed during the battle. When the news of their deaths reached Eli, he fell off the stool he was sitting on and died as well. God’s punishment for their sin had been exacted. Samuel’s words had come true.
As priests in Israel, Eli’s sons were responsible for leading the nation in its worship of the one true God. Part of their responsibility would have been seeking God’s desire for going into battle. Instead of seeking God’s direction, Eli’s sons took it upon themselves to send the ark into the battle. God proved that He was the one true God and let the Philistines kill many of the Israelite soldiers.
God’s presence was always with the nation of Israel. The ark symbolized God’s dwelling with and among His people. The Israelites mistakenly thought that if they had the ark with them in battle, God would be there to fight for them. As the ark in the Old Testament symbolized God’s presence with the people, later God gave His people something much greater than a sign: He sent His Son, Jesus. Jesus is called Immanuel which means, “God is with us.”
The Gospel Project for Kids story this week is about a woman named Hannah. Hannah had a good life but one thing was missing. Hannah wanted a child. As her family went annually to Shiloh to worship at the tabernacle, Hannah became distressed and prayed to God that He would give her a son. Hannah wanted a son so badly she promised to give him back to the Lord to serve Him. God granted Hannah’s prayer and a year later she gave birth to a son named Samuel.
Later Samuel lived in the tabernacle with Eli the priest. One night God spoke to Samuel, who didn’t understand the contact. Once Eli explained to Samuel that it was God calling him, Samuel went back to bed. When God called the third time, Samuel told the Lord that he was listening. God gave Samuel a harsh message for Eli and his family. Eli had allowed his sons to disrespect God and the elements of the tabernacle, and God was sending a warning that Eli and his family would be punished for their sin.
Eli awoke in the morning and urged Samuel to share God’s message. Samuel shared the message, and from that day on, Samuel grew and was known throughout the land as someone who was honest. Samuel shared God’s word with Eli the priest, but also with others from Israel. Samuel was used by God to share His word, but the Book of John tells us that Jesus is the Word. Samuel told people what God wanted them to do, but Jesus showed people through His life how God wanted them to live. Jesus ultimately freed people from the power of sin by dying on the cross.
The Gospel Project for Kids