1 Samuel 4:22
And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”
1 Samuel 4 records some of the darkest days in Israel’s history. The people had lost sight of God, their armies had suffered defeat, the ark of the covenant had been taken in battle, the sons of the nation’s spiritual leader had been killed and upon hearing all this Eli the high priest fell over and died. In the midst of all of this we read of a woman dying while giving birth to a child. This woman was the daughter in law of Eli and her child would ultimately serve as a priest. With her dying breath she named her child Ichabod which means “The glory has departed.” When she assessed the circumstances around her she concluded that God was done working in the nation of Israel.
While it is true that things looked bleak and the spiritual climate of the nation was at an all time low, it is not true that God had departed. A young man by the name of Samuel will be raised up to lead the nation, he will anoint a young man named David who will defeat the giant, become the king and lead the nation to its political, economic and spiritual apex. His son Solomon will build a temple in Jerusalem and the glory of God will descend upon it once again. In the more distant future a descendant of David will give birth the the savior of the world who will give his life as an atoning sacrifice for sin and make it possible for all of us to know God and receive eternal life. This savior will one day return, placing His feet on the soil of the nation of Israel and set up a kingdom that will forever replace the faulty governments of men and finally righteousness will cover the earth like the waters cover the sea. The lion and lamb will lie down together, the children will be able to play in the cobra’s den and men will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. I think it is fair to say that the glory of God had not departed from Israel.
Many today have adopted this same outlook. Instead of looking forward at what God wants to do they are constantly looking back longing for the good old days. It is as though we believe that every good work of God is something of the past. Rather than bemoaning how bad things have become we should be looking forward to what God wants to accomplish and how we can participate in it. God still wants to raise up men and women to reach men and women. The greatest works of God seem to flow out of the darkest period.