But as we think more about it, isn’t the robbery that Eli’s sons committed regularly at the tabernacle before the Presence of the Lord more scandalous? (1 Samuel 2:13-16) Doesn’t it seem more incredible that they converted the tabernacle into their private harem? (1 Samuel 2:22) Isn’t the judgment declared against the priestly house of Israel more shameful? (1 Samuel 2:27-36; 3:11-14)
How could they have dared to blaspheme Yahweh’s holiness for so long? The loss of the ark is simply a reality made manifest: the house of Eli has despised Yahweh’s Presence. Eli, Hophni and Phinehas abandoned Him much earlier than He abandoned them on the battlefield.
But Yahweh has not abandoned His people. Although His ark is in the hands of the Philistines, He has given ample evidence that He is alive, not captive and in
regular communication with His young prophet, Samuel. As if to protect the nation for the shock that was coming, He demonstrated clearly: “Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD” (1 Samuel 3:19-20).
It is scandalous and shameful when Yahweh’s judgment falls. May His people tremble before its appearance and repent of its sin while there is still time.