The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured. 1 Samuel 4:22
In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving tells of Ichabod Crane, a schoolteacher who seeks to marry a beautiful young woman named Katrina. Key to the story is a headless horseman who haunts the colonial countryside. One night, Ichabod encounters a ghostly apparition on horseback and flees the region in terror. It’s clear to the reader that this “horseman” is actually a rival suitor for Katrina, who then marries her.
Ichabod is a name first seen in the Bible, and it too has a gloomy backstory. While at war with the Philistines, Israel carried the sacred ark of the covenant into battle. Bad move. Israel’s army was routed and the ark captured. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of the high priest Eli, were killed (1 Samuel 4:17). Eli too would die (v. 18). When the pregnant wife of Phinehas heard the news, “she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains” (v. 19). With her last words she named her son Ichabod (literally, “no glory”). “The Glory has departed from Israel,” she gasped (v. 22).
Thankfully, God was unfolding a much larger story. His glory would ultimately be revealed in Jesus, who said of His disciples, “I have given them the glory that you [the Father] gave me” (John 17:22).
No one knows where the ark is today, but no matter. Ichabod has fled. Through Jesus, God has given us His very glory!
What do you think it means for God to give us His glory? How have you experienced it?
Dear Father, thank You for revealing Your glory through Jesus. Make me mindful of Your presence throughout this day.
First Samuel 4 tells an interesting narrative of the Israelites failing to consult God in critical times. In the beginning of the chapter, they were “defeated by the Philistines” (v. 2), which prompted the suggestion to take the ark of the covenant into battle (v. 3) without consulting with God. Not only did the elders suggest this, but Eli’s two sons were with the ark (vv. 3–4). They displayed a continued disinterest in God’s commands by taking the ark without consulting Him, and their choice resulted in their deaths (v. 11).