Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield. When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the LORD bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the LORD’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.”

So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. When the ark of the LORD’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?”

When they learned that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp, the Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!” So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died


This passage starts out with the sentence, “Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines”. It doesn’t say that they inquired of the Lord whether they should or not. It doesn’t say, “after much prayer and discernment, they went out to fight”. It just says they went out to fight. The Israelites took it upon themselves to fight their battle and what happened? They were defeated. Then they tried to get God to bless what they had already decided to do by bringing the ark with them and what happened? They were defeated again and the ark was taken from them.

Have you ever fallen into this trap of going it on your own and then asking God to bless your plans? I know I have. How often do I do things backwards as the Israelites did? I will decide that a plan makes sense to me and set out upon that path without ever inquiring of the Lord or bouncing the idea off another brother in Christ. Then when things start getting tough, I call on God to help out and bless my decision. Men, God doesn’t work that way!

Have you ever followed your own plans without consulting Jesus? What was the outcome?

Have you brought your plans to God and asked for His input prior to setting out? What was the outcome?

How can you put God first in your planning and decisions making?

Are there any decisions that you have to make that you need to place before God first?


Doug Walquist