“The man said to Eli, ‘I am the one who came from the battle line. Indeed, I escaped from the battle line today.’ And he said, How did things go, my son?” Then the one who brought the news replied, ‘Israel has fled before the Philistines and there has also been a great slaughter among the people, and your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been taken'” (1 Samuel 4:16-19, NASB).
When the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant from the Israelites, it was the direct result of the presumption of the Israelites that God was on their side no matter what they did or didn’t do.
The ark of the covenant was the visible sign of the presence and power of God. Until this time the ark had been housed in the tabernacle (tent sanctuary) at Shiloh, where it resided since the Israelites entered the promised land (Joshua 18:1). Now, Israel was disastrously defeated by the Philistines and the elders of Israel realized that the defeat was the work of the Lord.
Yet, there was no collective repentance or any other indication that the Israelites wanted to know God’s will in their war with the Philistines. Instead, the Israelites decided on their own accord to remove the ark from Shiloh where it had resided for over 300 years and take it to the battlefield, presuming that it would save them from defeat by the Philistines.
It almost seemed as if Israel was trying to force God to do their will instead of seeking God’s will and then doing it. But the ark was not a magic charm and Israel was defeated and the ark captured by the Philistines.
Want to know how not to accomplish God’s will? Presume that your will is God’s will. Do your own will will without asking God what His will is.
Do you find yourself making your own plans and then asking God to help you accomplish your plans? That’s presumption. Ask God what His plans and purposes are for you and then align your plans with His!
The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:17, NASB)