That’s Not Normal!
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That’s Not Normal!

1 Samuel 4:12-22  (ID: 3356)

When news of Israel’s defeat reached Eli and his pregnant daughter-in-law, their responses were peculiar. Their deepest concern was not their loved ones’ deaths, the child’s unexpected birth, or even their own demises, but that the ark had been captured and God’s glory had departed from Israel. For the church to remain effective, Alistair Begg warns, we must also turn our attention from “me” and “now” to God’s glory as we nurture the next generation in the things of Christ.


Sermon Transcript: Print

And as you’re seated, I invite you to turn to 1 Samuel and chapter 4 and follow along as I read from verse 12. First Samuel 4:12:

“A man of Benjamin ran from the battle line and came to Shiloh the same day, with his clothes torn and with dirt on his head. When he arrived, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told the news, all the city cried out. When Eli heard the sound of the outcry, he said, ‘What is this uproar?’ Then the man hurried and came and told Eli. Now Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes were set so that he could not see. And the man said to Eli, ‘I am he who has come from the battle; I fled from the battle today.’ And he said, ‘How did it go, my son?’ He who brought the news answered and said, ‘Israel has fled [from] the Philistines, and there has also been a great defeat among the people. Your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.’ As soon as he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years.

“Now his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant, about to give birth. And when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed and gave birth, for her pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women attending her said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, for you have borne a son.’ But she did not answer or pay attention. And she named the child Ichabod, saying, ‘The glory has departed from Israel!’ because the ark of God [has] been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And she said, ‘The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.’”

Amen.

Father, with our Bibles open before us, we humbly pray for the help and work of the Holy Spirit so that the page might be illumined to us, that our eyes might be open to see, our ears quick to listen, and our hearts ready to embrace all that you have for us in and through your Word. For we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, the verses to which we have turned are the verses which we consider this morning.

I found this week, in studying this passage, as last time, greatly challenged by it. And I also found that a phrase came to me from out of the dim and distant past. I was able to track it down to Edinburgh, I think 1976, when Susan and I had attended a play. We didn’t go to plays very often in those days, and so I remember that it was a play. I don’t remember the name, and I don’t remember what it was about. All that I remember is one line from that play. And it was a recurring line, because it was poignant, and it was at the same time humorous. It was delivered by a lady with a kind of accented Glasgow accent, and as something would happen in the play, she would say, “That’s not normal!” Just like that. “That’s not normal!” And so, for the last forty-plus years of our lives, Susan and I have, as things unfold in our marriage and in life, we use that phrase: “That’s not normal!”

And the reason it’s in my mind is because I think that if you followed carefully when I read or if you’ve been reading this text during the week, you must have come to the place where you said to yourself, “This isn’t normal.” It’s surely not normal for this lady to get the news of a son being delivered and yet to pay no regard to it at all because the news of the loss of a box on the battlefield so predominates in her thinking. And in the case, as we will see this morning, of this woman, we might not say, “That’s not normal.” I think we would say, though, “That’s not natural.” And then the only explanation we have is to conclude that in fact, it is supernatural.

Now, in the telling of the story, we the readers, because we have read the first half of the chapter, we are aware of the disaster on the field of battle. We are aware of the fact that the judgment pronounced on the house of Eli has begun. We are aware of all of that, but the news is only now reaching Shiloh—is reaching Shiloh on the lips of “a man of Benjamin” who has run from the field of battle.

Now, I’ve tried to remind myself in my study, and also now in seeking to expound the text, that what we’re dealing with here is, of course, a narrative. We’re dealing with a story. It is being told in such a way that we the readers might also enjoy the story and be intrigued by the story and learn from the story. It’s not given to us in bullet points. So we’re supposed to get underneath, if you like, the text itself. The various genres of Scripture—some prophecy and some epistles and some history and some poetry and so on—are there in the vast diversity of the sixty-six books so that for us the enjoyment of the reading of the Bible might simply be that, actually: the enjoyment of it.

And even the opening phrase here, “A man of Benjamin ran,” ought to make some of us think, because we’ve been reading, “Well, that sounds a little bit like how the book began.” Because it’s exactly how the book began: “There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim.”[1] We also were introduced to another man, a man of God, in 2:27: “And there came a man.” So, “There was a … man,” “There came a man,” and here we are again, and “a man of Benjamin.” If you know your Bible at all, it might force you forward just a page in your Bible to chapter 9, where we find again, “There was a man of Benjamin.”[2] And the thought is that the way the writer puts this is to provide just a little hint, so that in the same way that when you read something, it triggers something in your mind. And when you read the beginning of chapter 9, you know that what is described there is actually “he” who “had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man.”[3] And in some Jewish traditions, they actually believe that the certain man, here, of Benjamin here in verse 12 was none other than Saul himself. How they arrive at that I don’t know, and you ought not to be unsettled by it, because, as you would tell me, it’s not a main thing or a plain thing.

But this “man of Benjamin” has run “from the battle.” That tells us something, because we know that the battlefield was about twenty miles or more away cross-country. That’s quite a run. That’s almost a marathon runner. And he has arrived not wearing Lululemon or Nike, as you can see, but he has arrived “with his clothes torn and … dirt on his head.” Unless we understand that this is an expression of mourning, we will assume that he’s actually fallen or been beset by robbers on the way. The very way in which he reveals himself is an indication of the bad news that he brings. It would be obvious to anyone who saw him coming that he was a bearer of bad news.

Of course, it couldn’t be obvious to Eli, as we know, because Eli was blind. The fact that he’s blind doesn’t stop the writer from saying in verse 13 that “Eli was sitting on his seat by the road watching.” And so, how do you watch when you’re blind? Well, presumably, you watch with your ears. And friends that I’ve had who are physically unable to see seem to have a perception, a grasp of things, that is almost uncanny, and that they’re alert to things that we who look with our eyes may actually miss ourselves. There may be something of that there.

He was “watching,” and he was at the same time, we’re told, trembling. And he was trembling “for the ark of God.” Now, there is more in this than we’re going to unpack at the moment, but if you think about it, you realize that he had been on the receiving end of the request for the ark to be taken to the battlefield. Back in the earlier part of the chapter, their first defeat was significant. They figured, “If we use the ark as a kind of magic box, then maybe that will work for us.” Eli knew better than to respond to that. Eli knew better than to dispatch the ark—and certainly in the custody of his two worthless sons, as we have had them described. And he knew that in doing what he had done, it was actually contrary to the purposes of God. God wanted the ark in a place with the people coming to the ark, rather than the people using the ark as if it was a talisman. So it’s not a surprise that we’re told that he was trembling in this way.

Incidentally, when you read a text like this for yourself, on your own, when you’re seeking to study the Bible, one of the ways in which we can understand where the emphasis lies, or one of the ways in which we can make sure that we don’t go wrong in our exposition of the text, is to consider where there is repetition. And the repetition in these verses is focused entirely on the ark. And if you read it out loud, you’ll be struck by how many times you’re saying “the ark.” It’s in verse 11, verse 17, verse 19, verse 21, verse 22. So what do we know? We know that the writer wants us to think significantly about this matter of the ark of God—what has happened to it, what is represented by it, and what it means.

Now, the arrival of this man, the messenger, has caused an uproar in the city. The uproar in the city has spread out, and Eli now, who couldn’t determine from seeing the man as he ran past what was going on, inquires about the uproar. And we’re told in verse 14 that “then the man hurried and came and told Eli.” As I thought about it, I thought, “Well, if the uproar was so great and people had found out, surely anybody could have told Eli what was going on.” And that, I think, would be absolutely accurate, but nevertheless, he hears it, as it were, from the horse’s mouth. And “then the man hurried,” and he came to Eli.

And he introduced himself. But before he introduces himself, the narrator, the writer, tells us that “Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes were set so that he could not see,” presumably just to remind us in the story as it unfolds that the man coming up to Eli would not steal his own thunder by virtue of his torn clothes and the dirt in his hair, because Eli couldn’t see either of that. Therefore, what he was now about to tell him was going to be news.

And so he introduces himself. Verse 16. I imagine him saying, “Just by way of introduction, I am he who has come from the battle. In fact, I fled from the battle today.” To which Eli says, “How did it go, my son?” I guess when you’re ninety-eight years old you can call everybody “son.” Right? I don’t think this is a term of endearment. In fact, if we put it in more common parlance, it goes something like this: “Well, just by way of introduction, I am the man who was at the battlefield. I have fled from the battlefield.” To which Eli replied, “Get on with it, boy. Tell me what you’re here to report.”

Now, notice that in the telling of the story, the pace slows. The pace slows. This is important in telling a story. If you do creative writing at school and you’re writing a story, you can’t use your best line in the first paragraph. You don’t have a story. All you’ve got’s a paragraph! Therefore, if you’re seeking to build suspense, one of the ways in which you build suspense is by delay. Now, you will notice, “He who brought the news answered and said…” Well, we know it was “he who brought the news.” But the writer is just slowing the pace, purposefully.

If you don’t remember it anywhere else, you can remember it in Shakespeare. He does it all the time—classically, with Polonius. When Polonius is going to Hamlet’s mother, the queen, he’s going to tell her, “Your son is mad.” Right? That’s his message. How does he do it? Well, remember, he starts,

My liege, and madam, to expostulate

… what duty is,

Why day … day, night night, and time is time

Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.

[And] since brevity is the soul of wit,

And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,

I will be brief.

That’s right! Shakespeare wrote it for that laugh. Then he says,

         Your noble son is mad.

“Mad” call I it, for, to define true madness,

What is ’t but to be nothing else [than] mad?

To which the queen replies, “More matter with less art.”[4] “Get to the point!” But the writer writes it in such a way that there is an enjoyment in getting to the point.

And the Bible is not a boring book! People tell me, “The Bible is so boring.” I’ll tell you one thing: you’ve never read it. You’ve never read it on your knees, that’s for sure. For the Bible is magnificent, all inspired for our correction, for our reproof, for our training in righteousness.[5] And we’re expected to read the narrative of 1 Samuel 4 in a different way than we read, for example, Ephesians chapter 2. Why? Because it’s written differently, in order to present this truth.

So he presented the news. And here is how he presented it: “Israel has fled before the Philistines.” That’s number one. “There has also been a great defeat among the people.” It’s a slaughter. That’s number two. “Your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas…” Now, he’s not telling Eli his sons’ names. He’s reminding us, so that we make sure that we’re not talking about any other sons that there might have been—still these same two worthless characters. “Your two sons … are dead.” But he’s still not at the punch line.

Let’s stop there for a moment. Can there be a greater grief for a father than to be informed that his two impenitent sons are lost? That would be enough to induce a heart attack in most fathers. Look at Eli sitting there. Squeeze your eyes together, and say under your breath, “That’s not normal!”

Because notice that it is the punch line: “And the ark of God has been captured.” You see how it builds up to it. The pace slows. The information is provided. What is the significant thing? Where does the focus lie? What is the writer telling us? He’s telling us that this is the most significant thing of all! And the mention of the ark, which had caused Eli’s heart to tremble, is now the occasion of his death. He’s old, he’s heavy, he’s blind, he’s sad, he’s dead. A forty-year career comes to a crashing end in a moment.

When those who are fastened on themselves and their own significance seek to rob God of his glory, they treat him as if he is light and may be manipulated, and so they themselves, regarding themselves as heavy, take precedence in everything.

Now, here’s something that ought to give us pause when we read this. We ought to say, “I’m not sure I remember many places in the Bible where somebody’s weight is mentioned, or where their girth is described. So therefore, it must be a significant thing.” Well, you could say, yes, in sheer terms of the physicality of it. That would explain why, if he was heavy in that way, a fall would be sufficient to bring about his death.

But actually, we know that it’s more than that. You say, “We do?” I hope we do. Because what was the problem early on with the three-pronged fork and the digging in the meat? It was that they despised the place that God had appointed, decided that the preoccupations of themselves and their father took precedence over their own earthly longings, over their own needs: “Hey, you give us this stuff, or we’ll take it from you forcibly!” “Yeah, but you’re supposed to allow the fat to burn off as an aroma, as a sacrifice of praise to Almighty God!” “Don’t you worry about Almighty God! We’re the custodians of Almighty God! Just do what we’re telling you! We’ll take the fat!”[6]

So what do you have? Where’s the glory? In one sense, wrapped around Eli’s belly. For his girth is in itself a physical expression of the spiritual chaos represented in the priestly function of Shiloh. And let me tell you why I know this: because in Hebrew, the word for “heavy” transliterated is kabed, k-a-b-e-d. It is the verbal form of a word which is translated “glory,” which is k-a-b-o-d. And the writer is making a play on words throughout this saga, showing how when those who are fastened on themselves and their own significance seek to rob God of his glory, they treat him as if he is light and may be manipulated, and so they themselves, regarding themselves as heavy, take precedence in everything.

This little scene here is a sad scene, isn’t it? The sun is setting on Eli’s life. He dies miserably. But I want to believe that he didn’t die eternally. The Lord knows these things. I say that because even in his death, it’s actually clear that his deepest concern is not what is happening to him, or even what happened to his sons, but the news that God had forsaken his dwelling in Shiloh, the news that the ark had now been captured, the news that the glory, if you like, had departed. Eli is one of a number of individuals in the Bible—particularly in the realm of religious profession and in religious exercise in terms of priestly or pastoral function, if you like—who stands as a huge warning; a warning that is encapsulated in Paul’s words, remember, in 1 Corinthians 10: “Let anyone who thinks … he stands take heed lest he fall[s].”[7] I want to believe that Eli died of a broken heart rather than of a broken neck. I want to believe that the former preceded the latter. I don’t know. What is main and plain? Eli died.

Second little scenario is probably one of the most touching and one of the loveliest in Old Testament record. We don’t even know this lady’s name—simply “his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas.” I encourage you to read this on your own. Will you agree with me that it’s both touching and tragic, that it is quite a drama that unfolds in a matter of just a few words?

Do you ever see somebody just in passing—perhaps you’re on a bus or something—and you look at them and you realize, “There’s a whole life wrapped up in that person?” Well, you look at this, now his daughter-in-law. What had this lady’s life been? It must have been peculiar in many ways, because we know how it ends. You see, crisis, as in this, does not create this response. Crisis reveals the nature of the person by their response.

Now, here she was married to this character. She was married to a priest. Presumably, on the occasion of their marriage, there would have been great joy and celebration. How wonderful is this? Not only is she married to a priest, but her brother-in-law is a priest. And so she lived her life in the goldfish bowl of a priestly home. As time went by, she became aware of her husband’s double standards. He went out into the community, and he did his priestly stuff, but he also slept with women. She was aware of his adulterous behavior, a behavior that was a matter of public knowledge, as we know from the text. She would have felt the sting when people said of her as she passed by in the marketplace, “You know, that is Phinehas’s wife.” And then she would have heard somebody saying, “And we all know about Phinehas, don’t we?”

She would have been aware of what the public would not be aware of: what went on behind closed doors—whether Phinehas actually sought God in the private place; whether there was a growing distance between his function and, if you like, his fellowship with God. She would have been aware if the distancing of himself from that which is sacred produced in his experience activity that was a job, but it was not a joy. It had been a joy, but it became a job. People always ask me, “When do you leave pastoral ministry?” When your joy is supplanted by just doing a job. It will not suffice.

But here, they obviously still were intimate with one another. She was pregnant. Had they turned over a new leaf? Had he said, “You know what? I’m done with all that stuff. It’s going to be a new day.” We don’t know. What kind of farewell was it when she embraced him as they left, he and Hophni, to take this ark to the field of battle? Especially in light of the fact that she knew, because the word of Samuel hadn’t fallen to the ground and because the people of Israel knew the word of Samuel, which was the word that was the reiteration of the word that had come by the certain man who brought the word of prophecy concerning the demise and destruction of the house of Eli.

It’s hard to imagine that. And now “she heard the news”: “And when she heard the news…” Now, notice, when the news is given to Eli, it goes in ascending order: “The army has fled, there’s been a slaughter, your sons are dead, and the ark—here’s the punch line.” You’ll notice in this case that the punch line heads the list: “And when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed [herself] and gave birth, for [the] pains [had come] upon her.”

Now, here’s where I found myself all week. I wish you could be with me sometimes during the week so you could see what it’s like up there in my cave, you know, surrounded by sheets of paper that I keep crumpling up and throwing in the bin. But this lady’s got me stumped throughout the week. I found myself saying, sitting again, going, “That’s not normal!” Because think about it: under any natural circumstances, surely the death of a spouse would head the list. Surely the real issue would be “Forget about the box for the time being. My man’s dead!” If you’ve lost a loved one, you know that every other consideration in the world falls to the ground in relationship to that reality.

So what are we discovering here? Well, the cumulative impact of it all induces labor. But what we’re realizing is that the physical response is outweighed by the spiritual. And we know this because of what unfolds. When she realizes that she’s not going to survive the ordeal, the women attending her, seeking to rally her and encourage her, say to her, “Hey, you know, the baby, it’s a boy!” Every Hebrew mom wanted a boy. The whole story begins with a woman, Hannah, who’s thrilled with a boy. What possesses somebody, even in that extremity, to “not answer or pay attention”? That’s what it says in verse 20: “But she did[n’t] answer or pay attention.”

Now, my first thought was, “Well, that’s because she was so physically distressed. She couldn’t.” No! How do you know? Because she named the child. If she was blotto, if she was just out of it, then she’d be out of it. She didn’t “answer or pay attention,” but she said, “I want you to call the child Ichabod, saying, ‘The glory has departed from Israel.’” Now, you notice that’s in quotation marks. Then the commentary of the writer: “because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And she said,” back into quotes again, “‘The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.’”

Now, Ichabod simply means “no glory” or “Where is the glory?” How can it be? How can this be? It must be that this lady somehow, in a way that is not disclosed to us in Holy Scripture, lived in the presence of God—that when her husband let her down, when she was aware of the discrepancy between public profession and private reality, that somehow or another she must have been saying to herself, “God is ‘a very present help in trouble.’[8] He’s a refuge for me. The name of the Lord is a strong tower; into it I can run and be safe.”[9] She must have been doing that. Because otherwise you’re not going to get a response like this. She must somehow or another have had a theology, which comes out so clearly in her death—in fact, as Ralph Davis says, “She taught more theology in her death than [probably her husband did] in his [entire] life.”[10] And so this lady whose name we do not know, who “lived faithfully a hidden life,” will be laid to rest in an unvisited tomb.[11]

Don’t you want to believe—I do—that somehow, in all of her pain and disappointment and loss, somehow, deep inside, she had laid hold of something that even those closest to her had not grasped? And this is another thing that I do that it’s just silly, but I hear music when I’m reading the text. It’s all imagined, of course, and some of it I shouldn’t mention. But I thought, I imagined, I could hear her voice. And as her life ebbs away, she’s singing, “My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; he has planted out the vintage where the grapes of wrath…”[12] See, see, she knew. She knew that Hannah, when she prayed, was on it: “There is none holy like you, O Lord.”[13]

What is God’s glory? It is the manifestation of his infinite perfection and holiness. It is bringing up and out into the public arena all that God is, all that he means, why all that matters, why the psalmist says, “I’d rather spend a single day within your courts than thousands spent anywhere else.”[14] What is it that brings that about? It must only be that in the deep recesses of the human soul there is an engagement with God. That’s why the psalmist has so much on it. Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament [shows] his handywork.”[15] In other words, the clouds shout to you in the morning—shouting out to you. The evening sunlight shouts out; it just expresses the glory of God.

She must have seen this. She must have believed this. She knew that the glory of God was to be declared among the nations. Therefore, for the ark to be captured, for it to be carried away amongst the pagans, then God must be in this. It must be. “Be exalted, O God,” she might have said before she went to bed, “exalted … above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!”[16] You see, she knew that God’s glory mattered more than Eli’s name, mattered more than Shiloh, mattered more than present victory.

That’s not normal. Because by nature, we cannot see God’s glory. By nature, our eyes are hidden from the glory of God. Therefore, I say to you, if it isn’t natural, it has to be supernatural. Two Corinthians and chapter 4: “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.” And we are all perishing until we find life in Christ. It is “veiled to those who are perishing.” Now, why is this? Well, “In their case the god of this world,” small g, “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”[17]

What is God’s glory? It is the manifestation of his infinite perfection and holiness. It is bringing up and out into the public arena all that God is, all that he means, why all that matters.

So you sit and listen to me or my colleagues preach, and you say, “That was very interesting,” or “That was very boring,” or “I just frankly don’t get it.” Well, of course you don’t get it! You can’t get it. Your eyes have been blinded by the god of this age. You and I, we’re all tempted to believe that this is it, that this matters more than anything else, that whatever is up and out and beyond there, somehow or another, that’s another realm that doesn’t matter. This is the real realm. But you see, God opens blind eyes. God softens hard hearts. “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’”—this is a reference to the creation—“has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”[18] Do you see this?

What happened at Shiloh is long remembered. You’ll be surprised now, I hope, that as you read through your Bible and you come across a reference, for example, like Psalm 78:60, you’ll say, “Oh yeah, I get that”:

When God heard, he was full of wrath,

 and he utterly rejected Israel.

He forsook his dwelling at Shiloh,

 the tent where he dwelt among mankind.[19]

Jeremiah the prophet, speaking at a time in the history of the people of God when they were also tempted to use God—to say, “You are useful” rather than “You are worthy”—and in that context, the word of warning to them is directly in relationship to Shiloh:

Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the Lord. Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel.[20]

“Go now to my place at Shiloh.”

There is not only a warning here for each to ensure that we do not fall—we who believe ourselves to be standing—but there is a striking warning here to every assembly of God’s people. I could take you throughout Scotland and, to shame and sadness, stand with you outside boarded-up buildings that were once called “Holy” this or “The Church of the” that, and what is written across them metaphorically is just one word: Ichabod. Where is the glory? No glory.

When we say to one another these things about the next generation, and the importance of the passing-on of truth, and the ensuring that our children and our children’s children are nurtured in the things of Christ, we’re saying it in light of the fact that we wouldn’t be the first church that in a hundred years from now people drove past and said, “You know, I think in the early 2000s there was a congregation there.” That’s what they said in Ephesus: “Candlestick removed.”[21] I hate the thought—perish the thought—that Parkside Church will one day have its name changed to Ichabod Community Church because the leadership were just doing their job, but they lost their joy, and the congregation was so fixated on the now and the me and the what that any notion of the glory and majesty and transcendence of God was to be lost.

Well, let’s pray:

Lord our God, look upon us, we pray, in your mercy. Thank you that your faithfulness extends from generation to generation. We want to heed the warnings, even as we trust your promises. Hear our prayers, personally and corporately, for your Son’s sake. Amen.


[1] 1 Samuel 1:1 (ESV).

[2] 1 Samuel 9:1 (ESV).

[3] 1 Samuel 9:2 (ESV).

[4] William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 2.2.

[5] See 2 Timothy 3:16.

[6] See 1 Samuel 2:12–17.

[7] 1 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV).

[8] Psalm 46:1 (ESV).

[9] See Proverbs 18:10.

[10] Dale Ralph Davis, 1 Samuel: Looking on the Heart (Fearn, Great Britain: Christian Focus, 2000), 57.

[11] George Eliot, “Finale,” Middlemarch (1871–72).

[12] Julia Ward Howe, “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (1862). Lyrics lightly altered.

[13] 1 Samuel 2:2 (paraphrased).

[14] Psalm 84:10 (paraphrased).

[15] Psalm 19:1 (KJV).

[16] Psalm 57:11 (ESV).

[17] 2 Corinthians 4:3–4 (ESV).

[18] 2 Corinthians 4:5–6 (ESV).

[19] Psalm 78:59–60 (ESV).

[20] Jeremiah 7:11–12 (ESV).

[21] See Revelation 2:5.

Copyright © 2021, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.