ICHABOD’S MOTHER 1 Samuel 4:19-22

Scripture does not give us the name of the wife of Phinehas, who, with his brother, died at the hand of the Lord. All we are told of her is her anguish in travail and the striking name she gave her son whom his father never saw. There is a remarkable resemblance between this unnamed wife and Rachel, both of whom died in childbirth &–;were comforted by friends—and in death’s agony gave their sons impressive names. Perhaps Ichabod’s mother’s story is more touching than that of Rachel’s, for in spite of her husband’s immorality and godlessness, she died a martyr to her firm faith in Jehovah. Premature labor pains seized her as she heard that the ark of the Lord had been lost, yet she believed.

The fatal death of her husband, and also the death of her father-in-law, Eli, did not affect her so intensely as did the taking of the ark, and when her son was born she did not give him a family name but called him Ichabod meaning, “The glory is departed,” a fact she confirmed by repeating the lament, “The glory is departed from Israel for the ark of God is taken.” Ellicott says the name can be translated, “Alas! the glory.” She knew that the holiness and honor of God had been profaned and that divine judgment was just. “The wife of this deeply corrupt man,” wrote Von Gerlach, “shows how penetrated the whole people then was with the sense of the value of its covenant with God.” We cannot think of the tragic death of this anonymous wife and mother, perhaps one of the most pathetic deathbeds in the Bible, without saying that she represents many a God-fearing woman who, in spite of a shameless and godless partner, remains true to divine realities. Disappointed and crushed though she was, because God’s honor was her honor, no word against her worthless husband left her lips, nor did she utter any complaint against God for the death of her dissolute priestly husband.

I-chabod, “where is the glory,” is a sad yet suggestive name, and can be written over many a church and life in which God was honored and glorified. There are religious areas, as well as professing Christians who were once most outstanding in their allegiance to God and to His Word. What spiritual influence they exerted, but their glory has departed. They may still have a name that they live, but are spiritually dead. Modernism, popularity, worldly compromise robbed them of their onetime power for God in a world of need. Profession remains, but it is the same as a kernel without a nut. Previous joy and fruitfulness in service have gone, and life is destitute of its former zeal for God. The Ark, symbol of God’s presence and favor, has been taken away by the Philistines. But the Ark was returned, and with it the fresh manifestation of the glory of the Lord &–;once the people returned to the Lord with all their hearts (1 Samuel 7).


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