IN that gallery of Bible women where we find every type of woman living today there is Ichabod's mother, symbolizing the woman who gives birth to a child after she has received word of her husband's death in battle. Then she dies herself. To me she symbolizes the mother who succumbs to dark, despairing hopelessness.
Her husband, Phinehas, was immoral and greedy. Since she made no record of any kind herself, it is easy to imagine her as a careworn, sorrowful woman. Her first name is not recorded, and the only words from her lips are: "And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband." 1Sa 4:21
This leads one to believe that she was a sincerely devout woman but one who believed more in the ark, a symbol of God, than in God himself. She probably held to the superstitious belief that the ark of the Covenant, and not God, had helped her people in the crossing of the Jordan by causing the waters to part, and had delivered Jericho to them on the march around the city by causing the walls to fall.
Her religion probably represented an emotionalism and not a true devotion to God. And it could not sustain her in her many family tragedies, beginning with the death of her husband and his brother in battle. She probably realized, too, that her husband did not hand down a good heritage to her son, because he and his brother, we learn later, had been guardians of the ark when it fell into the hands of the enemy.
She faced another tragedy, too, just before the birth of her son. Her aged father-in-law, Eli, priest at the temple at Shiloh, had fallen and broken his neck when he received the shocking news that his two sons had been killed in battle and that the ark of the Covenant, so long in his temple, had been taken by the Philistines.
The loss of the ark seemed to bring almost as great a shock to Ichabod's mother as it did to Eli. And when this was added to other family tragedies, her child was born prematurely, and she died soon afterward. She became the second mother in the Bible to die in childbirth. Unlike Rachel, no loving husband was at her side as she died, and unlike Rachel also, no tomb marks the spot where she was buried.
There is this parallel, however, in her story and Rachel's. At Rachel's side was a midwife, who comforted her with these words, "Fear not; thou shalt have this son also" (Gen. 35:17)· Those who attended Ichabod's mother said, "Fear not; for thou hast born a son" (1 Sam, 4:20).
But Ichabod's mother held out no hope for her son, who had been born into a land from which the symbol of God had departed. She knew all too well that the child's greedy father had died in battle, but not as a hero of the godly people of Israel. She did not have the faith or the backbone to rise above such overwhelming disappointments and shocking tragedies, or the courage to live and nurture her son Ichabod.
Had she possessed the faith of Sarah, or the consecration of Hannah, her son Ichabod might have been powerful and not inglorious. And he might have retrieved for the Israelites the ark of the Covenant which his father had lost to the Philistines.
Thinking all this over, we had all better examine our relationship with the Lord, are we depending on Him for everything? Are we willing to accept that it is His will NO MATTER what happens? Are we willing to go on in our darkest trials.. to live for Him, to walk with Him.. to continue on???