How to Get Rid of God’s Glory

by Joanna Pierce on March 22, 2018

And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken (I Samuel 4:19–22, KJV).

We are our own worst enemy. We do a lot of things which end up working contrary to our best interest and the plans God has for us. Because of our sinful behavior, God’s glory may not operate anymore. Certain conditions must be met for Him to be present in our lives.

Book Background

I and II Samuel as well as I and II Kings provide a continuous history of the Nation of Israel. According to translators, the various authors include Samuel, Gad, and Nathan. I Samuel contains the life of Samuel himself and notes how he was a true prophet. Everyone knew he was a prophet, and his words were heard by the entire Nation (I Samuel 3: 19–21, 4:1).

God’s Glory

God’s glory can be comprised of numerous things. You can see the effects of God’s glory as did Moses on Mount Sinai. You can see the provision of God’s glory as when God provided quail to Israel in the wilderness. Israel could also see God’s glory through a pillar of cloud, pillar of fire, or a light as it shone on the mercy seat in the tabernacle. Today, we see God’s glory manifested through the Holy Ghost.

When the Glory Departed

Eli was the high priest of Israel and he had two sons: Hophni and Phinehas. Israel had gone out to battle against the Philistines and were losing. Eli’s sons decided to bring the ark of the covenant, confident God would fight the battle for them (I Samuel 4:11). The story ends with the ark being captured by the Philistines and both of Eli’s sons being killed.

Even as the prophet spoke the Word of God, the glory of the Lord was no longer with Israel (I Samuel 4:21). We’re left with many questions. How can you be living during a time where there’s a prophet who has a Word from God and lose God’s glory? How can we serve God and still lose? The answer lies in the behavior of the three men and the spiritual climate in Israel.

We Lose God’s Glory When We Profane God’s Stuff

Hophni and Phinehas had made the things of God ordinary; they treated His offerings with contempt (I Samuel 2:17). When offerings were brought to the Lord, they took the meat they wanted even though God had specific instructions for meat offerings. What they were doing was unholy behavior. We’re called to be holy because God is holy (Leviticus 20:7; I Peter 1:15).

If our behavior isn’t holy, God’s glory won’t be with us. If God ever becomes ordinary to us, God’s glory won’t be with us. Heaven help us if we think the church house is just another building, the Bible is just another book, etc. We can come to have church, preach the Word, and “work” in His Kingdom, but if we’re not holy, God won’t be in any of it.

We Lose God’s Glory When We Fail to Correct What We Know is Wrong

There will always be a gap in our spiritual attainment. We’re not saved until we make it to Heaven! But, knowing there’s a gap in our spiritual perfection should lead us in a lifetime pursuit of fixing that gap. Eli knew there were problems in his administration of his family, the tabernacle, and Israel. He was bold enough to confront his son’s sinful actions of fornication and taking the meat offerings (I Samuel 2:22–25). But, his mouth said one thing and his actions denoted another. Eli was telling his sons not to take the meat offerings, but he was eating it (I Samuel 2:29)!

We cannot say things with our mouth or heart and have different behavior. We’re told in Scripture if we know to do good, but we don’t do it, it’s a sin (James 4:17). It’s very dangerous to ignore God’s commands. God told Eli He would find a faithful priest to do what was in God’s heart instead of Eli (I Samuel 4:35). In the end, Eli’s weight of sin killed him—he was too heavy from eating God’s meat offerings, fell off his chair, broke his neck, and died (I Samuel 4:18). Our heart must seek correction from God so we don’t lose His glory (Psalms 141:5; Micah 2:7)!

We Lose God’s Glory When Our Shout Has No Substance

The Philistines were fighting Israel and had won the first battle. So, when Eli’s sons brought the ark into the camp, all of Israel shouted. The Philistines were fearful because they knew this was the God who had saved them out of the hands of the Egyptians; however, they pursued them in battle again. Even with the praise of Israel, and the ark of the covenant, the Philistines killed Eli’s sons and captured the ark (I Samuel 4:5–9).

God’s presence was in close proximity, but they didn’t have the right relationship with God. Therefore, God’s glory was not with them; their shout wasn’t enough. We can come to worship God but have 0% discipline in our relationship with Him. We can’t expect His glory to be present when there’s rebellion in our life. No flesh will glory in His presence (I Corinthians 1:29). Our life must be consecrated to Jesus Christ; that’s true worship—having a relationship with Him.

Seeking God’s Glory

We’re human. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). But, what we do when we fall short makes all the difference. Eli just got fat and heavy on his sin, and he died in the end. But, we see a different approach by King David. He fell short—had an affair, lied, murdered a man, and stole his wife. But, when the prophet Nathan revealed his sins, David went to the Lord in repentance and wrote Psalms 51. The crux of David’s Psalm was verse 11: Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. David couldn’t live his life without the glory of God in it. Lord help us to feel the same way.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on March 21, 2018 with Pastor Nave