• Rev. Mark Tews

Hear and Heed: Part 3

“That same day a Benjamite ran from the battle line and went to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dust on his head. When he arrived, there was Eli sitting on his chair by the side of the road, watching, because his heart feared for the ark of God. When the man entered the town and told what had happened, the whole town sent up a cry. Eli heard the outcry and asked, ‘What is the meaning of this uproar?’ The man hurried over to Eli, who was ninety-eight years old and whose eyes had failed so that he could not see. He told Eli, ‘I have just come from the battle line; I fled from it this very day.’ Eli asked, ‘What happened, my son?’ The man who brought the news replied, ‘Israel fled before the Philistines, and the army has suffered heavy losses. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.’ When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and he was heavy. He had led Israel forty years.” (1 Samuel 4:12–18).

Priest Eli fell from his chair and his neck was broken. Eli had already been warned of the impending judgment by the Lord through Samuel. Eli's words were: "He is the Lord; let Him do what is good in His eyes.” (1 Samuel 3:18). However, in this chapter, when the news arrived that Israel had been defeated from the hands of the Philistines, the entire town sent up a loud cry. Probably, at this time, Eli's heart had been throbbing heavily due to near panic. And when he asked, "What is the meaning if this uproar?" he was told that Israel had fled from the Philistines, the army suffered heavy losses, his two sons were dead, and the most dreadful thing of all, the ark of God had been captured. Eli was so devastated by fear that he fell backward off his chair and broke his neck. He knew that judgment had come and that no one could escape it. His fear paralyzed him and he died. Upon receiving this news, Eli’s entire being was affected; his emotional health, intellectual health, and physical health.

Fear is an enemy. Fear enters the hearts of people who do not hear and heed the Word of God. There are many ways that a person can be overcome by fear. Being unfamiliar with God's Word makes a big difference in a person’s life. When fear comes in upon those who lack the peace of knowing God’s Word and His promises, they generally do not act well, think well, or speak well.

So, how are you and I to respond to fear when it attacks us? How do you respond when a person suddenly tells you bad news about your family, or when you read horrifying news about our nation? Eli reacted the way he did because he knew that Israel went against the Word of God, but his paralysis to sudden bad news is commonly seen in a person who is without God's spiritual armor. If you have no helmet of salvation to protect your mind or if you have no breastplate of righteousness to protect your heart, you will get hurt. You must put on the whole armor of God, especially the shield of faith. Because the devil knows our weaknesses already and he attacks where you are most vulnerable, where you are most weak. And if you are not properly protected, you will be defeated.

So, how do you deal with fear? When confronted with fear, take God’s hand! "For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you." (Isaiah 41:13). When you know that fear is about to enter your heart, reject it and divert your thoughts toward something good. Think of God's goodness, His love, and His strength. He will help you. He is right there beside you. He is our strong tower. He is our deliverer. Take his hand and hold on tight. I assure you that fear will leave you because fear cannot stand in God's presence. Fear cannot stand up to God's power.