Mar 1 — 1 Samuel 5-7

1 Sam 5 — The Ark in the Presence of Dagon
1 Sam 6 — The Philistines Return the Ark
1 Sam 7 — Samuel Judges Israel

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One Reply to “Mar 1 — 1 Samuel 5-7”

  1. The Philistines captured the ark of the Lord and moved it from Ebenezer to Ashdod to Gath to Ekron, each time the panic grew worse because with the ark came devastation on the people and they broke out in tumors. The Philistines asked their diviners for advice and they told them to return it with a gift. They recanted the Israelites recent history, “why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did?” (1 Sam 6:6) and devised a plan to return the ark. Basically, if the cows pulling the cart with the ark goes toward Beth Shemesh (Israelite territory), they’re in trouble; otherwise, it was just bad luck–the cattle go straight to Beth Shemesh. The Israelites celebrated and sacrificed burnt offerings, though some 70 “looked into the ark of the Lord” and were put to death (1 Sam 6:19).

    The ark was returned under appropriate guard and remained at Kiriath for 20 years, and “all the people turned back to the Lord” (1 Sam 7:2). Samuel led the people back to God. The Philistines saw them assembling again and thought they would attack them, but Samuel called out to God and the Philistines were routed by Israel. “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us'” (1 Sam 7:12). During Samuel’s life, the people listened and were given back the cities they lost because of their ignorance.

    The first time I read through this section, I kept wondering about the presence of the ark, the diseases and trouble caused by the Lord on the Philistines. From their perspective, the ark was the God. They saw the symbol of the Lord and from their worldview they assumed this was the God of the Israelites. However, the Israelites did not worship the ark of the Lord, they worshiped the Lord, not the symbol. This is important for us to remember as the world looks on Christians and attempts to gain favor by mimicking our positive actions in an effort to gain salvation. While we have deep respect for the Bible, we don’t worship the book. The same goes for other symbols of Christianity and thus the attraction toward nondenominational churches. We are careful to let people know our faith is in the Lord, not in stuff! May I raise my Ebenezer to you Lord, may I remember you in all things. God help me to understand the Philistine view of Christianity in today’s culture. Help me to see their perspective and be part of the movement that draws them to Jesus Christ, the real reason for our faith.

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