Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.
The blessing of the upright may be the blessing that the upright give to the city. Thus, we bless the city when we pray for her, when we befriend our neighbors, pitch in to help the neighborhood, vote for good leaders, even run for public office. We bless the city by living upright lives and thus not contributing to delinquency, disorderly conduct, and unethical treatment of others.
The blessing may also be the blessing that God gives to the city because of the presence of the upright. God was willing to spare Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of ten upright persons, which proved to be too high of a number. How much blessing has come to your city because God’s people live there, and the blessing he has poured out on them has spilled over to their neighborhoods and workplaces?
Our presence in the city is intended for blessing, whether it is through the blessing we pass on in the name of Christ, or the blessing spilling over from God as he cares for his people. Pray today that you will be a blessing where God has placed you – in or out of the city. Because you live where you do, work where you do, go to school, do shopping, have fun – whatever the reason, because you are present those around you are blessed because the Spirit of Christ flows through you.
1 Samuel 3-4
3 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel.
Samuel answered, ‘Here I am.’ 5 And he ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am; you called me.’
But Eli said, ‘I did not call; go back and lie down.’ So he went and lay down.
6 Again the Lord called, ‘Samuel!’ And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am; you called me.’
‘My son,’ Eli said, ‘I did not call; go back and lie down.’
7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
8 A third time the Lord called, ‘Samuel!’ And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am; you called me.’
Then Eli realised that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’
Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’
11 And the Lord said to Samuel: ‘See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family – from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family for ever because of the sin he knew about; his sons uttered blasphemies against God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, “The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.”’
15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, ‘Samuel, my son.’
Samuel answered, ‘Here I am.’
17 ‘What was it he said to you?’ Eli asked. ‘Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.’ 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, ‘He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.’
19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognised that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.
4 And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.
The Philistines capture the ark
Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. 2 The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield. 3 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.’
4 So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
5 When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. 6 Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, ‘What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?’
When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid. ‘A god has come into the camp,’ they said. ‘Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. 8 We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. 9 Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!’
10 So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
Death of Eli
12 That same day a Benjaminite ran from the battle line and went to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dust on his head. 13 When he arrived, there was Eli sitting on his chair by the side of the road, watching, because his heart feared for the ark of God. When the man entered the town and told what had happened, the whole town sent up a cry.
14 Eli heard the outcry and asked, ‘What is the meaning of this uproar?’
The man hurried over to Eli, 15 who was ninety-eight years old and whose eyes had failed so that he could not see. 16 He told Eli, ‘I have just come from the battle line; I fled from it this very day.’
Eli asked, ‘What happened, my son?’
17 The man who brought the news replied, ‘Israel fled before the Philistines, and the army has suffered heavy losses. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.’
18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backwards off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and he was heavy. He had led Israel for forty years.
19 His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near the time of delivery. When she heard the news that the ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she went into labour and gave birth, but was overcome by her labour pains. 20 As she was dying, the women attending her said, ‘Don’t despair; you have given birth to a son.’ But she did not respond or pay any attention.
21 She named the boy Ichabod, saying, ‘The Glory has departed from Israel’– because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said, ‘The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.’