Today's devotion from 1 Samuel 4 & 5.
Idolatry is ugly, but maybe even more so when the object replacing God was designed to be testimony of His mighty works to encourage faithfulness and trust. The Philistines lined up against the Israelites in battle and killed 4,000 men. In their defeat, the Israelites looked for answers. Their recorded dialog is incredibly revealing.
First, notice who is speaking. These are not simpletons or a marginal minority. The words revealed in these verses come from no less than, "the elders of Israel." These are the leaders of the people. This is how far Israel has continued to plummet since the time of the judges. This is also probably the main reason for God's silence. Why would He speak to anyone who really didn't want or care to hear from Him?
Second, notice that they are accusing God of defeating them. It's not their unfaithfulness. It's not their lack of prayer or seeking Him. What makes this even worse is that they are accusing God in the worse sense by using the tetragrammaton. This is the holy, covenant name of God. The name that is supposed to be sacred among them because it is a reminder of His personal presence among them, and is attached to His faithfulness is being used to accuse Him of unfaithfulness and treachery.
Third, notice their ignorance. If God is against them, then they need to appeal to something that is greater than them to help them. Their answer is to send for the ark of the covenant. Read their words carefully, "Let’s bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh. Then it will go with us and save us from our enemies." (1 Samuel 4:3, CSB)
To whom, or what, are they attributing power to save them? To the ark itself. They have forgotten that the only reason the ark is important is because it carries the reminders of the power of God. The trinkets themselves are of no use. They cannot go against the will or work of God. They are inanimate objects. They are stone and wood. Nothing more. Nothing less.
It sounds absurd, but I wonder how many are using this same tactic today? They don't like God's stance on something, so they want to tweak His word or develop elaborate theologies. How many are trusting positions in the church, offerings to a building, or the fact that their names are on a membership roll? Each of these are equally guilty of the idolatry of the Israelites. These things of God cannot save. Only God Himself has the power to come among us and save us.