1 Samuel 5
-This chapter depicts what happened when the Philistines confiscated the Ark of the Covenant from the Israelis in the battle at Ebenezer (just to the east of modern day Tel Aviv). They brought it down south to Ashdod along the Mediterranean Coast (about half-way between modern day Tel Aviv and the northern border of the Gaza Strip, due west of Jerusalem). There they placed the Ark in the house of their god, Dagon, and sat it right beside their god. When they arose early the next morning, they found something very unique. Dagon had randomly fallen on his face to the ground before the Ark of the LORD. They picked up their idol god, and set him back in his proper spot, probably not thinking too much about it. But, when they arose early the next morning, “behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the Ark of the LORD. And the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off on the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him (1 Samuel 5:1-4).” This was really freaky to the priests of Dagon, and they decided to never enter that house of Dagon again up until at least the writing of this text (1 Samuel 5:5).
-“Now the Hand of the LORD was heavy on the Ashdodites, and He ravaged them and smote them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territories.” The men of Ashdod surmised that they could not keep this Ark among them, for it was destroying them somehow. In actuality, the Hand of God was severe upon them for disrupting His people and holy location in the tabernacle. His presence did not belong with the pagans, and this made Him angry to be set beside an idol of stone in false worship. This is a strong word to my Hindu and Buddhist brothers and sisters, or anyone else who believes in polytheism. In other words, there is an exclusive God of the Universe. A gathering of the minds occurred following this activity in the Philistine camp with the lords of them concluding that the Ark be brought eastward over to Gath (land of Goliath, 1 Samuel 17:4). This proved to be a mistake as well. As they brought the Ark to the city, God’s Hand was against them too. A great confusion came upon them the Bible states, and the LORD smote the men of the city, both old and young, with tumors once again as at Ashdod. This had to have been nasty and disgusting, a horrible scene. Then the Ark was moved to a third destination, this time to Ekron (just north of Gath) with the same results. Another gathering of all the lords of the Philistines quickly was convened, and they decided, “Send away the Ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, so that it will not kill us and our people.” Confusion, chaos, tumors, and death were prevailing, and the cry of the living in this pagan city went up to Heaven in their distress (1 Samuel 5:6-12).
-*Application* The power of God is real. His glory is beyond compare. We cannot manipulate Him or the things of Him to suit our own benefit. This is the lesson we can learn from this episode in the history of Israel and the Philistines.
Verse to Memorize: 1 Samuel 5:12