WORD STUDY – TAKE, SEIZE
I Samuel 4:3: “And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us today before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.”
Take, Seize – Hebrew: lakach – Take, fetch, to seize control or take possession of something that is not yours.
In the Hebrew the nation of Israel is asking: “Why did God defeat us? ” Israel was shocked that God had let them down. I am surprised too, the only sin that is mentioned is with the house of Eli and his corrupt sons running the worship services. Is God punishing the whole nation because of the sins of the religious leadership? Their sin was not in their acts but their hearts. Perhaps the next move by Israel is a clue as to the heart of the nation which shows they were no better than their leadership.
The elders said: “Let us take the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us.” The word for “take” or “fetch” is “lakach” which is taking possession or control of something that is not rightfully yours. They then added the word: “elinu” which is rendered “unto us.” Using this form suggest a play on words for “our god.” In other words they were saying they would seize control of the ark of the covenant to be a god for them. Then they said “that it might save us.” Some translations will say that “he might save us.” Indeed there is no neuter pronoun in Hebrew, but the syntax does suggest that the elders are saying “it” the ark of the covenant and not “He” or God will save us.
Think about it. The most sacred object in the land, the object where the very presence of God rested became an idol, a god. They knew enough to know that the ark could only be carried by a priest and they either bribed or forced the sons of Eli to carry the ark into battle. However, they did not know enough to know that it really didn’t matter for apparently the presence of God was not going to manifest itself at this time on the ark. The midrash suggests that the nation of Israel was to consult the ark. Apparently, they did not need to carry the ark into battle, only consult with God as to what to do in battle. In other words, the elders had the right idea, but the wrong approach.
In my own life when I enter into battle and get defeated and crawl back licking my wounds, I begin to ask: “God, why did you let me down?” Then just like Israel I go and seize the Ark. I start to carry my Bible around, I make sure I read it every day, I play only religious music and spiritual songs. I begin praising and worshipping because I have heard that brings the power and presence of God. I listen to testimonies of others who were victorious and try to follow their steps to victory. I am then ready to go back into battled. I now have the Ark with me and I am certain that “it” will save me, yet I end up suffering even a worst defeat. So what went wrong? All my good religious practices were “elinu” for me, or a god to me. They were used to bribe God but not to consult God.
Sometimes the enemy can use even the most sacred thing in our lives to deflect us away from the heart of God. That little cross we carry in our pocket or around our necks become objects or good luck charms to ward off evil things rather than serving as a simple reminder of the one we love.