“When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, ‘Why did the LORD bring defeat on us today before the Philistines?'” (1 Samuel 4:3)
Have you ever noticed how you can read the Bible, see the big picture, be grateful for God’s plan(s), and then go on living as if the Bible didn’t exist? Me either. But maybe you know someone who has (grin). One of the many incredible realities we have in the Bible is being able to see and know the big picture. The authors of Scripture usually give us a 30,000 foot view so we see things from God’s perspective.
Consider Samuel, Eli, Hophni, Phinehas, the nation of Israel and the Philistines. (Might be a good idea to read 1 Samuel 1-4 for a quick refresher.) We, the readers, know God promised to get rid of evil Hophni and Phinehas (see 1 Samuel 3:11-14). We don’t know how, mind you, but we do know it’s coming. So we expect it as we continue reading. Sure enough, as promised, the wicked sons of Eli the priest are taken out by the Philistines. We, the reader, have that perspective. We have a clearer understanding of what the Father is up to. But when the Philistine victory actually happened over Israel, it made ZERO sense (see verse quoted at the top of this post). To those living in that particular moment – they couldn’t understand it.
- “How could this happen?”
- “But we’re Israel?”
- “Are you kidding me right now?”
We, the reader, are given the big picture. Those who were living in the moment, however, couldn’t see it at the time.
Let’s learn something here. More than likely, at some point today, you will ask God “WHY?” You will wonder “How could this happen?” I get it. I do it, too. Remember: we can’t see the big picture right now. We can’t see everything God is up to. But after reading our Bible’s we can trust that He is actually working – for His purposes and our ultimate joy. There are times and moments and seasons when God chooses to show us what He’s up to. There are times He doesn’t. But one of the many magnificent things the Bible does is remind us that there is a big picture that helps us make sense of it all.
Unless I am missing something, God never told the elders of Israel why He brought defeat on them (see verse at top of post). In fact, if you keep reading, they brought the ark of the covenant to their land, worshipped exuberantly, and things got worse! (1 Samuel 4:5-11) In other words, they did exactly as they were supposed to do, but the situation grew even more dire. God was doing something, but they didn’t understand it at the time.
Something is going to happen today, this week, this month that will not make sense. I dare say it will shock you. Breathe. It’s okay. Learn from the 30,000 foot view you and I get from the Bible. We don’t have to understand everything; but we must trust the One who does.