1 Samuel 4 "The Portrait Hall": Ichabod: The Saddest Baby Photo

Some babies are meant for the camera, while others, well… they have a face only their mother could love. The baby portrait we are going to look at today is not an ugly one…but a sad one! Let’s look at the portrait of the saddest baby ever entered into the portrait hall!

When does God finally decide to withdraw His blessing from a disobedient people? Note, these are people with a history of fathers that walked with God. They knew about God and His desire to have a relationship, but they didn’t build one of their own.

Key Principle: God wants us to heed His Words, and take Him seriously. He wants a relationship!

1. Verbal Warning: God offered a message of judgment before to those who listen to His Word (3:20-21).

2. God fires the starting gun: God’s speaker called on the people to do what God instructed (4:1).

3. Physical Warning: An initial defeat demoralized the people, leaving them asking questions (4:2)

4. Self Deception: Instead of calling on God and seeking Him – His people chose a solution that seemed religious and significant (4:3). They were led by those who did not know God, but knew religious practice and the history about God (4:4). People placed their hope and faith in the symbols of a relationship they did not try to have, even when the warning signs were there (4:5)

5. False Testimony: The pagan world saw the growth of confidence in God’s people and interpreted it just as God’s estranged people did – like the symbols and history could carry them through the new battle (4:6-8). They ordered hard battle and offered no choice (4:9).

6. Break Up and Defeat: A punishing defeat came to God’s estranged people – far worse than the earlier battle (4:10). Note that in the face of this defeat, each man isolated themselves and the cohesion broke apart in the ranks!

7. Plundered and Destroyed: The symbols of a relationship with God became mere relics, and were plundered (4:11). The dead in faith leaders were killed, as God had warned (4:12-18).

8. Lost Hope: As all hope slipped away, the sense that God had left the people became overwhelming (4:19-22).

Remember, the time between the warning and the execution of judgment is GRACE TIME, and the God of grace delights in seeing sinners repent! Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. 19 ”  If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land; 20 “But if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword.” Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Consent (‘awbaw: to be willing) and obey (sh’mah: listen and respond)