1 Samuel 4: This is the beginning of a troubling time for Israel. They lose in a massive battle to the Philistines. Remembering that bringing the Ark of the Covenant along to a battle worked in the past, Israel did this again. However, they lost and actually lost the Ark to the Philistines. Eli’s sons are both killed in battle and Eli falls out of his chair and breaks his neck upon learning of the death of his sons and the loss of the Ark.
1 Samuel 5: As is custom during war, to the victor go the spoils. The Philistines believed that parading the Ark around would be a good idea. Bad idea on their part. God punishes the Philistines. First, a statue of their God, Dagon, was destroyed when they put the Ark in his temple. Second, God struck the people with tumors. So, they rightfully chose to move it to another location, but this was still in the land of the Philistines. Again, bad idea. Many people died in this new location and the survivors were all struck with tumors. The people decided the Ark had to return home.
1 Samuel 6: The Philistines return the Ark to Israel along with a guilt offering. They end up returning it to Beth-shemesh. Unfortunately, some of these people looked into the Ark and God killed them (seventy in all). They sent word to the people of Kiriath-jearim that the Ark was back and wanted them to take it instead.
Psalm 41: This is an interesting psalm. The main theme is that the psalmist asks God to heal them so they can pretty much pay back (in a negative way) their enemies who have mistreated them. The interesting part is from the first verse: “Those who pay close attention to the poor are truly happy!” (CEB Study Bible; p. 885 OT; 41.1) Imagine that, another instance of recognizing that God calls on all of us to help the poor. If only our leadership in this country would do this type of stuff.
Also of note, this is the last psalm in Book 1 of the psalms: “Bless the Lord, the God of Israel, from forever to forever! Amen and Amen!” (CEB Study Bible; p. 885 OT; 41.13)
Psalm 42 & 43: Here’s a nice little tidbit from the CEB Study Bible (p. 886 OT). First, this psalm is the start of Book 2 of the Psalms. Here’s a quote on this set of psalms: “Psalms 42-83 are called the Elohistic Psalter because they rarely use the name for God that is translated ‘Lord,’ preferring instead another Hebrew word, elohim, ‘God.’” I’m still reading more about the different sources of information in the Bible (i.e. the J, E, P, and D sources).
Another interesting bit of information, according to the notes, psalms 42 and 43 actually should just be one psalm.
The psalmist is asking for guidance to return back to the safety of the temple. At first I thought that the psalmist was asking for death so they could be with God, but now that I look at it again (and at the notes), I realize the psalmist is asking to return to the temple so they can be surrounded by God’s presence.
Psalm 44: It seems like the psalmist is trying to “butter-up” God in the beginning, reminding God what he did for their ancestors when he brought them into the land of Canaan and defeated all of their enemies. Now this generation has suffered defeats and they don’t seem to understand what they did wrong. The psalmist even calls out God, saying “Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord? Awake, do not cast us off forever!” (Ps. 44.23)