Today’s reading in 1 Samuel tells of massive defeat of the Israelites by the Philistines, including the theft of the ark of the covenant. The news of the deaths of Eli’s sons and the taking of the ark caused Eli to fall to his death, and his daughter-in-law went into labor at hearing all the news, and died in despair.
What a tragedy. Why did these people not turn to God? Why did despair overcome them? For the same reasons that we allow our faith to be dampened by the troubles we face. It is too easy to forget God’s faithfulness, and too tempting to wallow in depression when things go wrong.
In Psalm 5, David reminds us to go first to God with our troubles, requests, and also with praise.
I’ve heard people say, and have been guilty myself of this, “there’s nothing left to do but pray.” It’s not necessarily an untrue statement – but it’s premise is that there ever was anything else more important or more pressing to do than to pray. Rather than waiting until all other options are exhausted, let’s try to remember to go to God first (and last) with our concerns. It seems like we should know and do this already, but I for one need constant reminders of this.
“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.” Psalm 5:11-12