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I Samuel 4:1b-11

Victor M. Eskew




1.      Outline


i.                    THE INITIAL BATTLE WITH THE PHILISTINES (I Sam. 4:1b-2)

ii.                  THE INGNORANT PLAN OF THE ISRAELITES (I Sam. 4:3-4)

iii.                THE IGNITED JOY OF THE ISRAELITES (I Sam. 4:5)

iv.                THE INTENSE CONCERN OF THE PHILISTINES (I Sam. 4:6-9)

v.                  THE INJURIOUS DEFEAT OF ISRAEL (I Sam. 4:10-11)


2.      Who are the Philistines? (I Sam. 4:1)


Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle…


A.    They were the descendants of Ham through Mizraim (See Gen. 10:13-14).


B.      The word “Philistine” means “immigrant.”


C.     These individuals immigrated from Caphtor (Crete) to the southwestern portion of the Land of Canaan.


D.    These people were a fighting people.  At different times, they held the Israelites in captivity.


3.      Where did the two opposing forces pitch their camps? (I Sam. 4:1)


…and pitched in Eben-ezer; and the Philistines pitched in Aphek.


A.    Israel:  Eben-ezer 

1.      The name Eben-ezer means “stone of help

2.      NOTE:  The writer uses the name by which the place was later called, See I Samuel 7:12.  (NOTE:  This shows that the author wrote after the name change).


Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.


3.      “It would be toward the western frontier of Judah, not very far from Mizpeh of Benjamin, and near Shiloh” (Barnes, e-sword).


B.      The Philistines:  Aphek


4.      Define:  array (I Sam. 4:2)


And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel…


A.    Strong (6186):  to set in a row, to arrange, set in order


B.      BDB:  to arrange, to set, lay, or put in order, to prepare


5.      How many men of Israel were slain in the first confrontation with the Philistines? (I Sam. 4:2)


…and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines:  and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men.


A.    Four thousand


B.      The battle was long and bloody.  Most of the fighting was done with swords and spears.


C.     It was a severe defeat for Israel.


6.      To whom did the elders of Israel attribute this defeat? (I Sam. 4:3)


And when they were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us to day before the Philistines?...


A.    They attributed their defeat to the Lord.


B.      Some believe that I Samuel 4:1a belongs to this verse.  “And the word of the Lord came to all Israel.” 

1.      They believe that it was upon Samuel’s affirmation that Israel went to war with the Philistines. 

2.      With the prophet’s approval, they believed that the Lord would fight for them.

3.      Their loss causes them to believe that the Lord did not fight for them.

4.      NOTE:  There is no inquiry of the Lord by the prophet for Israel after their defeat.


7.      What did the elders decide to bring to the field of battle to assist them? (I Sam. 4:3)


Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.


A.    The ark of the covenant


8.      T – F    The elders of Israel believed the ark could save them from their enemies. (I Sam. 4:3)


…when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.


A.    True


B.      “The Ark of the Covenant was a chest about 23 inches wide, 39 inches long, and 23 inches high, made of wood and covered inside and out on all sides with gold. Inside this chest was a golden jar containing manna, the two tablets of the Law and Aaron's budded rod. The chest was mounted on four legs and had four rings for two gold-covered poles by which the ark was carried” (http://www.abideinchrist.com/messages/ex25v22.html).


C.     The Lord dwelled between the cherubims on the mercy seat (Exo. 25:20-22).


And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the face of the cherubims be.  And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.  And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel


1.      Since this was the dwelling place of God, the Israelites may have thought that God’s presence would be with them on the field of battle.

2.      Too, in times past the ark of God would go before the children of Israel, and when it was not taken, defeat was inevitable (Num. 14:44-45).


But they presumed to go up unto the hill top:  nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and Moses, departed not out of the camp.  Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.


9.      In what city was the ark located? (I Sam. 4:4)


So the people sent to Shiloh…


A.    Shiloh


B.      Joshua 18:1 tells us that it was here the ark of the covenant was placed when the children of Israel came into the land of Canaan.  Why Shiloh was the city chosen we do not know?


10.  The ark is described as “the ark of the covenant.”  What is meant by the word “covenant”?        (I Sam. 4:4)


…that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts…


A.    The two tables of stone were placed into the ark (Exo. 25:21).


B.      They represented the entirety of covenant between God and Israel.


11.  What did the ark dwell between? (I Sam. 4:4)


…which dwelleth between the cherubims:…


A.    The ark dwelt between the cherubims.


B.      In heaven an innumerable company of angels dwells around the throne of God (Rev. 5:11; 7:11).  The articles in the tabernacle were shadows and examples of the heavenly things (Heb. 8:5).


Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things…


12.  Who accompanied the ark to the field of battle? (I Sam. 4:4).


…and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.


A.    The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas


B.      This seemed to make taking the ark onto the field of battle official.




13.  How did Israel respond when the ark came into their camp? (I Sam. 4:5).


And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.


A.    They shouted with a great shout.


B.      Great

1.      Strong (1419):  great with any intensity

2.      BDB:  large in magnitude and extent


C.     So that the earth rang again.  The shouting was so loud that it echoed through the valley between Israel and the Philistines.


D.    NOTE:  Their shouting upon seeing the ark shows us where they placed their faith.  The placed their faith in a box instead of the Almighty God.


14.  T – F    The Philistines heard the shouts coming from the camp of Israel. (I Sam. 4:6).


And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout…


A.    True


15.  What was the reaction of the Philistines when they learned the ark was come into the Israelites’ camp? (I Sam. 4:7)


And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp.  And they said, Woe unto us!  For there hath not been such a thing heretofore.


A.    Emotional reaction?  They were afraid


B.      Verbal reaction?   “God is come into the camp….Woe unto us!  For there hath not been such a thing heretofore.”  That is, in all of the battles the Philistines had fought with Israel, the ark had never been brought onto the field of battle.


C.     NOTE:  They must have had some type of reconnaissance that told them of the ark.


16.  Define:  woe (I Sam. 4:7)


A.    Strong (188):  in the sense of crying out, lamentation


B.      BDB:  passionate cry of grief or despair


17.  What did the Philistines know about the power of the God of Israel? (I Sam. 4:8)


Woe unto us!  Who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods?  These are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.


A.    They knew that it was the God who had smitten the Egyptians with all the plagues.


B.      It had been several hundred years since Israel had exited Egypt.  Yet, the history was still impressed upon the minds of the enemies of God’s people.

18.  T – F    The Philistines fled the field of battle when they learned Israel had the ark. (I Sam. 4:9)


Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you:  quit yourselves like man, and fight.


A.    False.  They encouraged one another to go into battle.


19.  “Be strong, and quit yourselves like men…quit yourselves like men, and fight”    (I Sam. 4:9)


20.  Define:  quit (I Sam. 4:9)


…quit yourselves like men…


A.    Strong (1961):  to be or become


B.      BDB:  to be, to become, to come into being


21.  What motivated the Philistines to fight? (I Sam. 4:9)


…that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you…


A.    They did not want to be servants unto the Hebrews, as they had been to them.


22.  T – F    The ark of God saved Israel from the Philistines.  (I Sam. 4:10)


And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent:  and there was a great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.


A.    False


23.  How is the slaughter of Israel described? (I Sam. 4:10)


A.    It is described as a “great” slaughter.


B.      Great

1.      Strong (1419):  great in any sense

2.      BDB:  great, large, in number and in intensity


24.  How many footmen were killed? (I Sam. 4:10)


A.    30,000 footmen


25.  What were two other things that happened in this battle between Israel and the Philistines?       (I Sam. 4:11)


And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.


A.    The ark of God was taken.


B.      The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain


C.     Remember:  This was the sign God gave about the judgment of Eli (See I Sam. 2:34).


I Samuel 4:12-22

Victor M. Eskew




1.      Outline


i.                    I Samuel 4:12-18

ii.                  I Samuel 4:19-22


2.      From what tribe did the man belong who came as a messenger about the battle against the Philistines? (I Sam. 4:12)



3.      What is the significance of his clothes being rent and earth upon his head? (I Sam. 4:12)




4.      For what did Eli tremble? (I Sam. 4:13)




5.      Define:  tremble (I Sam. 4:13)




6.      What did the city do when the messenger reported his news of the battle? (I Sam. 4:13)




7.      T – F    Eli did not want to know about “the noise of the tumult.” (I Sam. 4:14)



8.      What are two personal facts that we learn about Eli from I Samuel 4:15?






9.      What four things did the messenger report unto Eli about the battle? (I Sam. 4:16-17).










10.  Which part of the report cause Eli to fall from off his seat backward? (I Sam. 4:18)



11.  What brought about his death? (I Sam. 4:18)



12.  “…for he was an ____________ man, and _____________.” (I Sam. 4:18)



13.  How long had Eli judged Israel? (I Sam. 4:18)



14.  Whose wife was pregnant at the time of this battle? (I Sam. 4:19)



15.  What two news items caused her to go into labor? (I Sam. 4:19)



16.  She gave birth to a ( son     daughter ). (I Sam. 4:20)




17.  What was about to happen to Phinehas’ wife? (I Sam. 4:20)



18.  What did the woman who was with her tell her not to do? (I Sam. 4:20)



19.  How did Phinehas’s wife respond? (I Sam. 4:20)




20.  What did she name the child? (I Sam. 4:21)



21.  What is the meaning of the child’s name? (I Sam. 4:21).



22.  In what way was glory departed from Israel? (I Sam. 4:22)




23.  How many times do we read the words “the ark of God” in this section?