Devotional-Results without Relationship

…[T]he elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” (1 Samuel 4:3-4)

The Israelites had lost 4,000 men to the Philistines. So what bright idea do the elders come up with? “Let’s take the ark into battle. It worked before, so let’s use it again!” Bad idea. They are defeated again, resoundingly, and the ark is taken. (God gets it back.) This is, to me, one of the scariest passages in the Old Testament. It demonstrates what happens when we demand results from God without a relationship.

The Israelites treated the ark not as a physical reminder of God’s presence but as some kind of talisman, a lucky charm that would help them defeat their enemies. They probably remembered stories of the Exodus, when the ark went before Israel into battle, and the Lord brought great victories. They forgot, however, that the ark symbolized God’s covenant relationship with Israel. By Samuel’s time, the relationship (from Israel’s perspective) had all but disappeared. Which brings us to this story.

How often do we follow Israel’s example? We follow a formula, pray a certain way, and say that God is “obligated” to do what we ask. Nothing could be further from the truth. God is obligated only to himself, and he responds in love to people who embrace the relationship he offers. He answers because he loves us, and we give him glory for it. If we use some ritual, some formula, our success robs God of his glory, and as it says in Isaiah, “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”

God loves us–God loves you. Results follow relationship with him.

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3 thoughts on “Devotional-Results without Relationship”

  1. this is an excellent point. from the perspective of the musical worship setting in a service (since that’s only one way to worship among many), i’ve found from experience that we get into routines and find “formulas” for ushering in God’s prescence, when if you really think about it, it makes no sense. we’re praising God for His “big”ness and awesomeness and vastness, and shoving His entrance into a box we’re comfortable with, instead of having that relationship with Him and listening for how He wants to enter in. thanks pastor cain!

    -shepard

  2. Let’s not also forget that God rarely did maricles the same way lest we get stuck or focused on a means rather than the source. We should never assume we know whats best or that we know the will of God, especially if we are out of communion with the Father. Let us always draw near to the Father.

  3. This devotional brings my heart to a place of wanting to love the Lord in purity. I pray that the eyes of our hearts be opened to His love more and more each day.
    ~Cassie Harper

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