Israel and the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.

There are bad days and there are very bad days.

very bad days

Israel had one of these very bad days. But it didn’t float down out of nowhere. And it didn’t first begin with their very bad choice. It began in the heart.

Taking God for granted is always unwise. Taking God for granted and thinking that you can manipulate Him… that is taking unwise to a whole new level. But this was the place where Israel was back in 1 Samuel 4. They weren’t doing well in battle against the Philistines. So instead of inquiring of the Lord for guidance and instruction, they took it upon themselves to take the ark of the covenant into battle thinking it would save them.

Uh oh! Even as holy as the ark was, it was NOT God Himself. The ark was a thing made with human hands. How could it save them? Bad choice, very bad choice. And thus began their terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.

The story goes like this:

  • they took the ark into battle
  • the Philistines freaked out
  • so they fought harder
  • Israel lost the battle (and 30,000 men)
  • and they lost the ark

Yep, that very same ark they were convinced would save and protect them was taken by their enemies. The bad day doesn’t stop there. The two sons of Eli, the high priest, were killed, a messenger went to tell Eli, who heard about the ark and fell over and broke his neck, the news of all this sent his daughter-in-law into early labor, from which she died after naming her child Ichabod – the glory has departed.


All of this because the nation of Israel put God in a box covered in gold.

God chooses the boxes that will reveal Himself, we don’t.

We all are putting God in a box. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. My brother-in-law says that God allowed Himself to be put into a human box. We all have our ways of trying to define and understand God. So we create our little boxes of doctrine or teachings or concepts. It helps us grasp the ungraspable King of Glory.

We are fine unless we forget that God delights in BURSTING out of our boxes, to reveal Himself bigger, mightier, deeper and more wonderful than we previously understood or imagined.

Israel had forgotten this.

They thought they could manipulate God into doing what they wanted because they were taking the place where He chose to dwell – between the cherubim. They mistook their box for their God. And He would not be manipulated or man-handled. He would not play into their sinful attitudes or ploys. Unfortunately, their folly and arrogance lost the war, lost the ark, lost their high priest and many many lives.

The Philistines were having their own set of very bad days. They too had put Jehovah in a box, thinking they had beaten Him because they had His ark. But when they found the graven image of their god fallen before the ark, not once but twice (and mutilated to boot) with their people afflicted with tumors, they realized He was bigger than they thought. Too big for them.

Has your failure to see God’s bigness left you with very bad days?

How does your view of God affect your life? We see God revealed in the scriptures. He shows us Himself so that we can also see ourselves in His eyes. When we don’t see God clearly, we can never see ourselves clearly. And then we can never walk in the fullness of our identity in Jesus.

Seeing God as He really is isn’t for His benefit. It is for ours.

Take a look at your heart today and ask yourself this question: am I putting God in a box that I am desperately trying to hold shut? Or am I willing to see Him BURST out bigger and grander so I can understand Him better?

All Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB.
Unless otherwise indicated, photos from

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