Read 1 Samuel 4:1-22
This was a tragic day in Jewish history! Thirty thousand Israelite soldiers fell in battle. Three spiritual leaders and a wife from the same family died. But as sad as the loss of life is, there was still something even more heartbreaking. The Ark of the Covenant had been taken.
God had given clear instructions about its construction in Exodus 25. Inside, the people of God had placed important articles (a sample of manna, the tablets of the 10 commandments, and Aaron’s rod that budded) that reminded them of special encounters with God. As God’s people moved during the Exodus, this special box was carried on poles. No one was to touch it directly. When God’s people came to a stop, the Ark was placed into the tabernacle of God . . . in its innermost part, the Most Holy Place. It was here that a special sacrifice for sin was made and here that the presence of God was manifested in a unique way. The Ark of the Covenant was a critical part of Jewish life.
As the people of God found themselves losing in battle to the Philistines, they came up with this great (at least they thought it was) idea. “Let’s carry the Ark of the Covenant into battle with us! After all, it represents the power and presence of God. There is no way that the enemy can defeat us, if we have this good luck charm along!” Although it may have seemed like a great idea, they had never sought God about the reason for their defeat or their next strategy for battle.
Indeed, even the Philistines shook in their shoes when they realized that the Israelites had brought the Ark of God to the battlefield. But, at the end of the day, not only were the Philistines victorious, but they were also the possessors of the treasured Ark.
Ichabod! This was a tragic day, because it was the day when the glory departed from Israel.
Ichabod compromises are only a step away from any of us. A foolish decision made without consulting the Lord can lead us to tragic outcomes where we have abandoned our God. Instead of revealing and basking in His glory, we can find ourselves wallowing in the ashes of abandonment.
Guard yourself from your own Ichabod!