And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook. Now when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, “What does the sound of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” Then they understood that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp. So the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp!” And they said, “Woe to us! For such a thing has never happened before. Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. Be strong and conduct yourselves like men, you Philistines, that you do not become servants of the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Conduct yourselves like men, and fight!” So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent. There was a very great slaughter, and there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. Also the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
1 Samuel 4:5-11
The ark of God was captured!
This was unheard of before this point! Every time Israel had gone out to battle with the ark of the covenant they had always seen miraculous victory. This was so true that even the Philistines, who had just won a battle against Israel, were afraid. But here it seemed like God had failed them. They brought in the presence of the Lord and they still lost. Thirty thousand men were slaughtered! What does this mean?
When you read the context of the story you see clearly that Israel was not following God. Hophni and Phineas, mentioned in verse 11, were the sons of Eli who was currently the leader of the Israel. they used their place of leadership to exploit the people for their own gains. We see a few of the things they had been doing 1 Samuel 2. They had been stealing from the offering of the Lord and had been exploiting the female servants of the temple for sex. These were the people who leading Israel into battle. Moreover, they initially went to battle with no recognition of the Lord or the ark of the covenant. It was only after they were defeated that they decided to bring the ark with them stating,
"...Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies.”
1 Samuel 4:3b
Notice how they didn't even recognize God. They were relying on the representation of God to save them rather than God Himself. There was no actual relationship, or even recognition, of God.
They were attempting to use God's power without any form of relationship with Him.
There is a similar story in the New Testament, in the book of Acts. In Acts chapter 19 Luke tells us the story of "the seven sons of Sceva" (v. 14) who attempted to cast out a demon "by the Jesus whom Paul preaches" (v. 13). This didn't work out for them as the the demon possessed man caused them to flee out of the house "naked and wounded" (v. 16). In Ephesus they believed that if you found out the name of a god they could control it and because of this they were constantly trying to find out the name of the more powerful gods. The seven sons of Sceva recognized that Jesus was powerful but thought they could simply control Him by His name. Needless to say, it didn't work.
Whether in the old covenant or the new, the power of God has always flowed out of a person's relationship with God!
Note that God does not require people to be perfect in order to walk in His power. The Bible is full of imperfect people who had the power of God flowing through them. He doesn't require perfection, He simply requires relationship.
As I wrote in Faith and Confession, you can confess and speak things into existence in your life! You can call things that are not into existence! You have a right to healing, deliverance, and prosperity through Jesus Christ! But you need to remember that the power and authority that brings these things into existence flows out of your relationship with Him!