Saturday, February 4, 2017

Ichabod's Mother

Women of Israel's Heroic Age
Ichabod's Mother

Ichabod's Mother: A Mother without Hope.

Key Scripture: 1 Samuel 4:19-22

Her Name Means: Scripture does not give us her name.

Her Character: Since she made no record of any kind herself, it is easy to imagine her as a careworn, sorrowful woman.

Her Strengths: Even though she was not loved she continued to honor and serve the Lord.

Her Sorrow: Her husband, Phinehas, died at the hand of the Lord.

Her Joy: Wounded in heart, lonely, and deserted, she sought in her God, his unchanging love.

Pre-Story: Ichabod’s mother is anonymous. She gets four verses in the Bible. By piecing together other scriptures we know that she was married to a priest who was unfaithful to God and unfaithful to her. She lived during one of the lowest points in the history of the nation of Israel.

Her Story: Her husband, Phinehas, was the High Priest's (Eli) son, who daily performed the priest's duty among holy things. She lived under the shadow of the tabernacle. Her food was constantly supplied from the sacred offerings. Disappointed in her earthly hopes, she clung to her God.

The sons of Eli did not know the Lord. Israel was all too familiar with the actions of these sons who grew fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel while their father looked on. Compounding their offenses, the brothers flaunted their wantonness by openly sleeping with women who assembled at the tabernacle of meeting. Eli knew such wicked impudence toward the Lord and His offerings would have serious consequences for them and for Israel. According to the text, a man of God prophesies to Eli that Eli and his family will be punished for this, with all male descendants dying before reaching old age.

Israel was as usual at war with the Philistines. The battle was intense and bloody, and now Israelite bodies, thousands of them lay strewn on the battlefield. The Philistines claimed victory. “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines?” (1 Samuel 4:5). It was obvious that the Lord’s blessing was missing.The only thing to do was to send to Shiloh for the ark of the covenant, which they did; and it arrived at the camp along with the reprobates, Hophne and Phinehas.

Heartened by the sight of their cherished ark, the Israelite camp erupted into shouts of celebration. Philistine confidence changed to terror at the thought that suddenly Israel’s God was there. That day, thirty thousand footmen of Israel were slaughtered along with Hophni and Phinehas. The Ark was also captured.

Eli, ninety-eight years old, nearly blind, sat by the wayside near Shiloh, trembling with apprehension. The ark had left the city, his wicked sons had gone with it. Earlier he had pleaded with his wicked sons; “Why do you do such things?" "For I hear of your evil dealing from all the people. It is not a good report that I hear. You make the Lord’s people transgress” (1 Samuel 2: 23-24). His words fell on deaf ears, and ultimately, they would all pay with their lives.

Unmistakable cries of distress filled the air, and the messenger himself confirmed Eli’s worst fears: the ark of the covenant was captured by the Philistines, and his two sons, dead. Recoiling in shock, Eli toppled backward off his seat and died of a broken neck. After forty years of judging Israel, his rule was ended.

When she learned that her people were defeated in battle, and, worse than all, the ark of God is fallen into the hands of the uncircumcised, premature labor pains seized her. The fatal death of her husband, and also the death of her father-in-law, Eli, did not affect her so intensely as did the taking of the ark. With one last push, her strength was spent. She managed to name her baby Ichabod (which means there is no glory), and with her dying words she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured." (1 Samuel 4:22).

She named her son Ichabod because it was a time of disobedience. Her last words were forever to be a reminder of the high cost of disobedience. She symbolizes the mother who succumbs to dark, despairing hopelessness.

Her Place in God's Divine Plan: The Philistines did not have the power to take the Ark of God way from Israel. The Lord removed it from Israel and allowed the Philistines to take it. It would have been very evident in those days that the Lord was not pleased with the conduct of the priests. The Ark was returned, and with it the fresh manifestation of the glory of the Lord and once the people returned to the Lord with all their hearts. (1 Samuel 7). Perhaps the lesson was in obedience.

Her Challenges Along the Way: She knew that the actions of her husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law had profaned the holiness and honor of God. She realized that with the taking of the ark of God that the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel.

Her Victories: Disappointed and crushed though she was, because God’s honor was her honor, no word against her worthless husband left her lips, nor did she utter any complaint against God for the death of her dissolute priestly husband.

Lesson We Can Learn from Her Legacy: She represents many a God-fearing woman who, in spite of a godless partner, remains true to her beliefs. We can continue to honor and serve the Lord even if those we love do not. When you put your faith in God, you can go through your darkest trials living free of fear. If you who are walking through desert places make the Lord your portion, you will never be alone.

Genealogy: The wife of Phinehas and the mother of their child, Ichabod. Daughter-in-law of Eli.

*She became the second mother in the Bible to die in childbirth. (Rachael). Unlike Rachel, no loving husband was at her side as she died.

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