I Samuel 4 - Though Samuel was growing stronger in his faith and relationship with the Lord the rest of Israel was still caught up in the pattern seen in the Book of Judges. The people were not relying on God but only on His priest, Eli, and Eli's sons who were ungodly men. As Israel went to fight the Philistines they were defeated. Thinking that God would come to their rescue if they brought the Ark of the Covenant into their camp, they sent for it. The KJV and NKJV both speak about the Israelites as trusting in the Ark itself by saying, "...it will save us..." Thus, they were trusting the Ark like they trusted an idol. God allowed them to be defeated, the two sons of Eli were killed on the same day, and worse, the Ark was captured by the Philistines. When Eli heard about this he died and his daughter-in-law gave birth to a son and called him Ichabod, which means, "the glory has departed."
1 Samuel 5 - The Philistines thought they got quite a prize when they brought the Ark of the Covenant into their land. They were sadly mistaken because God sent painful sores and poisonous rats among them. They finally realized they had to send the ark back.
1 Samuel 6 - To be sure it was God who was judging them they sent the Ark on a cart pulled by two milking cows whose calves were tied up. No cow would leave her calf, but these cows moved directly to Israel showing that God was indeed judging the Philistines. The people of Israel were thrilled to see the Ark returned and worshiped God. But even the Jews needed to understand that they were to show utmost respect for God's holy things.
1 Samuel 7 - Twenty years would pass and Samuel grew to be Israel's last judge. He led them to repent and turn back to God. In answer to that God allowed them a mighty victory over the Philistines. As long as Samuel was their judge the Philistines would never invade their land.
1 Samuel 8 - Another "sad chapter" in the Bible is this one. The people of Israel were just focused on the world around them rather than on their God. They demanded of Samuel that he appoint a king over them so they could be like all the nations around them. Sad. God made it clear that He recognized that the people weren't rejecting Samuel, they were rejecting God Himself. He told Samuel to do as they asked but He also wanted Samuel to tell the people what the king would be like. You might take a King James Version or a New King James Version of the Bible and read 1 Samuel 8:10-18 and notice how often Samuel uses the word "take" in describing the king the people would get. He would be a man who would take from them more than he would give.