Key Passage: 1 Samuel 2:35 “Then I will raise up a faithful priest for Myself. He will do whatever is in My heart and mind.”
Big Picture Question: Why was the ark of God important? The ark reminded God’s people that God was with them.
Christ Connection: The ark of the covenant reminded the Israelites that God was with them. God gave His people something even better to remind them that He was with them. God sent His Son, Jesus. One of Jesus’ names is Immanuel, which means, “God with us.”
In our last story, Samuel shared about the sin Eli’s sons were committing at God’s temple. The story this week, “The Ark Was Captured,” is one example of the things they allowed to happen to the tabernacle and its furnishings. The ark of the covenant was a symbol of God’s presence with the people. As the Israelites battled the Philistines, they lost a battle quite substantially. Instead of asking God what happened, they decided it would be a good idea to go get the box of God, the ark of the covenant, and bring it into battle with them.
When confronted with this message from the battlefield, Eli’s two sons thought it was a great idea and sent the ark from the tabernacle to the battle. Not only did the Israelites’ strategy not work, but the ark was captured by the Philistines and both of Eli’s sons were killed during the battle. When the news of their deaths reached Eli, he fell off the stool he was sitting on and died as well. God’s punishment for their sin had been exacted. Samuel’s words had come true.
As priests in Israel, Eli’s sons were responsible for leading the nation in its worship of the one true God. Part of their responsibility would have been seeking God’s desire for going into battle. Instead of seeking God’s direction, Eli’s sons took it upon themselves to send the ark into the battle. God proved that He was the one true God and let the Philistines kill many of the Israelite soldiers.
God’s presence was always with the nation of Israel. The ark symbolized God’s dwelling with and among His people. The Israelites mistakenly thought that if they had the ark with them in battle, God would be there to fight for them. As the ark in the Old Testament symbolized God’s presence with the people, later God gave His people something much greater than a sign: He sent His Son, Jesus. Jesus is called Immanuel which means, “God is with us.”
Family Activity: Play hide-and-seek sardine-style. One family member will hide alone. As each family member locates the hiding player, she will join him in the hiding place until the last person arrives. Play several rounds. Discuss the difference between hiding alone and hiding with someone. Remind kids that God is with His people today. Invite everyone to think of a time they need to remember that God is with them.