The Philistines And The Ark

One Sunday morning, Satan happened to be standing outside of a large Baptist Church. Inside, the people were singing, praying, and listening to a sermon. Someone passed by on the sidewalk and noticed Satan standing on the steps of the church. The passerby asked Satan if it bother … More

Worship

The Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod, which was located about thirty miles west of Jerusalem (v. 1). When the Philistines captured the ark, they thought they had something good in their hands. They took it into the house of Dagon, which was one of the many deities they worshiped. They placed the ark in front of the statue of Dagon (v. 2). The next morning, Dagon was fallen upon his face before the ark of the Lord. They placed the statue back in its place but, the next morning, it was again on its face and this time smashed into several pieces (vv. 3-5).The Philistines soon saw that there was no merit in their having the ark. In fact it was a very real danger to them.

Thinking these calamities might not be coincidental, they send the ark to another city of the Philistines. In addition to this, the people were affected with a plague, which is thought to have been boils, abscesses and swellings (v. 6). With this the ark was moved from city to city and each time it brought great trouble and chaos to the citizens and they would move it again (vv. 7-12). Although the Philistines witnessed Dagon falling on its face, they didn’t act until they were afflicted with the plagues. Then they wanted to get rid of the ark, but they were not sure how to go about it. Finally they decided to return the ark to Israel so they put it on a cart Nothing is going to happen to them for putting it on the cart because they did not know any better. However, Israel knew better and is going to judge them because of the way they handle it.

The Philistines, like most of their neighbors, worshiped many gods. They thought the more gods they could have on their side the more secure they would be. That was why they wanted the ark. It may be easier to worship things we can see whether buildings, people or Scripture itself, but such tangible things have no power in themselves. This book, the Bible is merely a respectable religious relic, or it is a sharp and effective Word of God. Your attitude toward it is largely shaped by your relationship to the God from whom it comes. A relic or antique has to be carefully stored away. God’s Word has to be used and obeyed. Which attitude accurately describes your approach to the Word of God?

Application

Just like the Philistines, who didn’t act until they were afflicted with the plague, the people today often will not respond to biblical truth until they experience pain. Am I willing to listen to God for truth’s sake or do I only turn to Him when I am hurting?

I Samuel 5:1-12 (English Standard Version)

When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day. The hand of the LORD was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory. And when the men of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, "The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god." So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, "What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?" They answered, "Let the ark of the God of Israel be brought around to Gath." So they brought the ark of the God of Israel there. But after they had brought it around, the hand of the LORD was against the city, causing a very great panic, and he afflicted the men of the city, both young and old, so that tumors broke out on them. So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. But as soon as the ark of God came to Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, "They have brought around to us the ark of the God of Israel to kill us and our people." They sent therefore and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, "Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, that it may not kill us and our people." For there was a deathly panic throughout the whole city. The hand of God was very heavy there. The men who did not die were struck with tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

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