1 Samuel 4 … Consider Him Who Will Not Be Manipulated

manipulate: to handle, control, influence

After a devastating defeat, the Israelites are left wondering what happened. The elders asked the right question…

 “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? [4:3]

But they certainly did not ask the right Person. Rather than consulting the LORD, they wrongly determined among themselves both the problem and solution.

Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the Lord, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies.” [4:3]

And so they were half right; God had told them His Presence would dwell with them and He would meet with them from the mercy seat within the ark.

Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them… 10 They shall construct an ark… 22 There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony,” [Exodus 25:8, 10, 22]

Yes they were right in that they were in desperate need of God’s Presence to defeat the enemy; but sorely mistaken to conclude mere possession of the ark was the guarantee of His Presence.

In leaning on their own understanding they convinced themselves God could be manipulated (handled, controlled and influenced) like the pagan deities of surrounding nations, and so ensure His presence and power to defeat the enemy.

Consider Him Who Will Not Be Manipulated

  • He Will Not Be Manipulated (Handled)
    • However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says: 49 Heaven is My throne,
      And earth is the footstool of My feet;
      What kind of house will you build for Me?’ says the Lord,
      ‘Or what place is there for My repose?
      50 ‘Was it not My hand which made all these things?’
      [Acts 7:48-50]
  • He Will Not Be Manipulated (Controlled)
    • I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself,
      Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps..
      [Jeremiah 10:23]
  • He Will Not Be Manipulated (Influenced)
    • For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
      And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
      35 “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
      But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
      And among the inhabitants of earth;
      And no one can ward off His hand
      Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’
      [Daniel 4:34-35]

Rather than coming to the LORD in an attitude of humility, the Israelites literally took matters into their own hands. As a result of their attempted manipulation to master their fate, disastrous devastation transpired.

So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent; and the slaughter was very great, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 And the ark of God was taken; [4:11]

And in her dying breath, Eli’s daughter-in-law memorialized this catastrophic event, the departure of His glory, in the naming of her son.

And she called the boy Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel,” because the ark of God was taken and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken.” [4:21-22]

However, in actuality, it is not that His glory had departed from Israel because the ark of God was taken; rather, because His glory had departed God allowed the ark to be taken. It is God alone Who controls, handles and influences the course of events, for He Will Not Be Manipulated.

How do we respond to Him Who Will Not Be Manipulated?

We know He Will Not Be Manipulated, but honestly don’t we sometimes act as though He can? If we just pray a little more, give up something, do something… then surely He will…

With what shall I come to the Lord
And bow myself before the God on high?
Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings,
With yearling calves?
Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams,
In ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
[Micah 6:6-7]

He Will Not Be Manipulated and He has told us what is good, what He requires.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
[Micah 6:8]

Do justice. Love Kindness. Walk Humbly.

  • Do Justice: “Do” like Him
    • Learn to do good;
      Seek justice,
      Reprove the ruthless,
      Defend the orphan,
      Plead for the widow.
      [Isaiah 1:17]
    • How blessed are those who keep justice,
      Who practice righteousness at all times!
      [Psalm 106:3]
  • Love Kindness: “Love” like Him
    • The Lord is righteous in all His ways
      And kind in all His deeds. [Psalm 145:17]
    • Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. [Ephesians 4:32]
  • Walk Humbly: “Walk” like Him.
    • Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. [Ephesian 5:1-2]
    • Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [Philippians 2:5-8]

We can only do, love and walk like Him as we live by faith in Christ Who lives in us.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. [Galatians 2:20]

Let us pray He would reveal any ways we attempt to engage in feeble and fruitless manipulation. Rather, may we grow in faith and dependence to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with Him Who Will Not Be Manipulated.

Let’s Grow Together!

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