Controlling God (1 Samuel 4-6)

When the [Israelite] 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.” (1 Samuel 4:3)

There is a human tendency to believe that God can be managed.  Rather than seeking to do as He pleases, the temptation exists to manipulate God into doing what we want.  Such was the case with the Israelites and the Ark of the Covenant.

The Israelites believed that they could manipulate God into winning in battle against the Philistines by merely taking the Ark of the Covenant with them onto the battlefield.  In their thinking, they had the presence of God, so there was no possible way they could lose the fight.

Unfortunately the Israelites failed to realize that God is the One who is in control of all situations – not them.

They were concerned with their own glory rather than His, and they viewed God as simply a contingency to be managed.  The result was the loss of the Ark and the death of Eli, one of the last judges of Israel.

Whenever we lose sight of whose glory we’re fighting for, we risk losing the battle.  God fights for His glory, and He doesn’t share it with anyone.

He doesn’t seek to make your name great; He seeks to make His name great.  God is not a god to be managed; He is a God to be worshipped.  No one learned that lesson better than the Israelites as they came to the realization that God would not bless their efforts as long as they were seeking the glorification of themselves.

Are you trying to manage God?  Do you try to manipulate God into doing whatever it is that you’d like Him to do?  Do you spend the money believing that “God will provide”?  Do you pursue the relationship thinking that “God will make it all okay”?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that You can control Him… you can’t.  Your efforts are best spent in worshipping Him.  God will not be managed by anyone or anything.

Lord, I sometimes face the temptation of thinking that I can control You.  If I do this one thing, then surely You’ll do this other thing.  Such behavior isn’t trust – it’s manipulation.  Give me eyes to see when I’m trying to manipulate You, and help me to seek to worship You instead.

About Seth

Seth is a pastor, author, and speaker who lives in Batesville, Indiana. He is married to Kari, and they have two daughters, Madelyn and Noelle.


  1. Darrell Stevens says:

    And poor old Dagon kept falling over. What a shame.

    • I think that is one of my favorite stories! Can you imagine what the people were thinking when they kept waking up the next morning only to see that their idol was, once again, prostrate before the Lord?

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