The Israelites engage in battle with the Philistines and suffer terrible losses. The elders of Israel suggest that the Ark of the Covenant be brought into the battlefield. The Israelites grow excited and become confident in their victory. The Philistines fear that God will intervene, as He had done in the past, and that they will be subdued to His people. They therefore decide to channel their concerns into courage and successfully crush the Israelites. Eli’s sons are killed in battle and the Ark is captured.
A messenger comes to Shiloh to tell the High Priest about the appalling outcome. Utterly devastated by the news, Eli falls from his chair and dies. Samuel’s vision has become a reality. Eli and his sons indeed perish. However, this is all part of God’s master plan—to enable the Israelites to be spiritually purified and grow from their crisis of faith.
“Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies” (1 Samuel 4:3)
“Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken” (1 Samuel 4:17)
Cleanliness is the result of avoiding evil stemming from both internal and external impulses.