1 Samuel 4:12-18
And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth on his head.…
And he had judged Israel forty years (ver. 18). The life of Eli was lengthened out to ninety-eight years, during the last forty of which he judged Israel. In him we see that -
1. The highest official position may be held by one who is destitute of the qualities which it demands.
2. Much excellence is sometimes associated with grave defects.
3. Sins of omission have a ruinous effect on others - the family, the Church, the nation.
4. A good man is not spared when he is guilty of disobedience. The judgment of Heaven is impartial. The last hour of his long life has now come, and in it we see the old man -
I. WATCHING WITH ANXIETY FOR THE ARK (ver. 13). Why does his heart tremble? He has truly an affectionate regard for it. But -
1. He has been accessory to its exposure in the battle field.
2. He is doubtful about its safety.
3. He dreads the consequences of its loss. Already he experiences the evil effects of his sin.
II. RECEIVING THE TIDINGS OF DISASTER (vers. 12, 14-17). "Woe upon woe."
1. The defeat of Israel with a great slaughter.
2. The death of his two sons.
3. The capture of the ark. "With the surrender of the earthly throne of his glory the Lord appeared to have abolished his covenant of grace with Israel; for the ark, with the tables of the law and the Capporeth, was the visible pledge of the covenant of grace which Jehovah had made with Israel" (Keil).
III. SMITTEN WITH THE STROKE or DEATH (ver. 18).
1. After long and merciful delay.
2. Directly connected with his sin.
3. "Suddenly, and without remedy." Nevertheless, it was his dismay at the loss of the ark that caused his trembling heart to cease to beat; and his love for the sacred symbol lightens up the gloom of his melancholy end. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head.