What’s Missing


Sometimes what’s not there is even more telling than what is:

  • Thanksgiving dinner with no turkey leaves a huge hole on the dinner table
  • A car up on blocks with no wheels tells a sad story– you’ve been robbed.
  • Did your kids try to play the “last puzzle piece game” at your house? Sneak out a piece and hide it just so they could be the one to put in the last piece? No matter how beautiful the rest of the scene, our eye is drawn to that gaping hole.

In I Samuel Chapter 4, the Israelites go out to fight with the Philistines and are defeated. As they regroup and consider what to do next, what’s not there is even more revealing than what is.

I Samuel 4: 3 says,

“When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the LORD bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the LORD’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.”

They inquire of each other, but not of the LORD. They immediately decide to haul out the ark of the covenant – an action that comes dangerously close to idolatry. Where is the prayer? Where is the seeking after God? The first battle led to a sound defeat and as they prepare for round two what’s missing speaks volumes about their relationship with God—or lack thereof.

The Israelites wanted God’s blessings, but not God Himself. What’s not recorded is as telling as what is: no conviction or confession, no prayer or praise, no calling out to God, no worship – just human effort and human striving.

Do you and I ever do the same? Do we roll up our sleeves and get to work before dropping to our knees in prayer or lifting our arms in praise?

  • Let’s ask God to convict us when we resort to manipulation to manage life’s challenges.
  • Let’s ask God to help us make praise and prayer our first response to hardship.
  • Let’s ask God to Help us see where the problem is not really the ‘Philistines’ before us, but perhaps our own hearts.
  • Let’s ask God to call us to be women who worship before we get down to work.

In this week’s teaching, we also unpacked some explanations for why God causes or allows bad things to happen.  You can watch the entire teaching for this week’s passage by clicking this link. It would also bless our ministry if you would click that red subscribe button when you finish. (It’s free). Have a blessed week!

Laura Macfarlan