1 Samuel 5:1-7:17
The Ark of the Covenant was symbolic of the presence of God.
The Ark was found in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle behind the veil. Only the High Priest was allowed into this room and only once a year on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. The Ark was made of acacia wood, and overlaid with pure gold. The two cherubim were facing the lid of the Ark called the Mercy Seat, and there the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled each year by the High Priest. Ironically, that was also the place referred to as the throne of God. Within the Ark of the Covenant were the two tablets, upon which were written the ten commandments, the jar of manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded.
The Ark should have never been on the battlefield in the hands of Hophni and Phinehas, but it was, and it was captured by the Philistines. They initially thought that their god, Dagon, was greater than the God of the Israelites because they won the battle and captured the Ark, but they would soon find out that they were dead wrong.
The Philistines placed the Ark in the temple of Dagon in Ashdod, but the next day they found Dagon prostrate before the Ark. They propped Dagon back up, only to find him prostrate once again before the LORD, this time with his head and the palms of his hands broken off.
Got Questions said this about Dagon, “Dagon was the chief deity of the Philistines, and the worship of this pagan god dates back to the third millennium BC. According to ancient mythology, Dagon was the father of Baal. He was the fish god (dag in Hebrew means “fish”), and he was represented as a half-man, half-fish creature. This image furthered an evolutionary belief that both men and fish had evolved together from the primal waters. Dagon may also have been the provider of grain. So Dagon was similar to many other idols in that he personified natural forces that had supposedly produced all things.” ( see full article)
God allowed the Ark to be captured, in part, because of the sins of Israel, but also in part to prove Himself to the Philistines. Dagon lost his head and hands – for the LORD is the only head, and was about move His hands against Israel’s enemies (the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines – 1 Samuel 5:9).
God struck the men of Ashdod with tumors; He also struck the men of Gath, both small and great – (1 Samuel 5:6, 9), there was heavy judgment in Ekron as well. The Philistines were afraid, they knew they had to send the Ark back to Israel and did the best they could to do it right, with trespass offerings to give glory to the God of Israel. That was right on their part, but what if…? Wouldn’t it have been better to have turned from their fish god, from their false god, to the true God? It’s sad to see so many people hold on to the things that are dead and bring only death, and not turn to the true and living God, who brings life!
When the Ark was returned to Israel, the men of Beth Shemesh rejoiced, but they were then struck for looking into the Ark of the Covenant. As Jews they should have known better (some manuscripts say seventy men and fifty ox died, not fifty thousand seventy men).
Eventually the Ark settled down in Kirjath Jearim, where it remained for twenty years.
The people of Israel also settled down, and under the leadership of Samuel, God began to give them victory over the Philistines. Samuel called the people back to God.
1 Samuel 7:3-4 (NKJV) “Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.”
As we look back on our lives, although it hasn’t been easy we can all say, especially as the redeemed, the same thing Samuel said, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” (Ebenezer – 1 Samuel 7:12)
Under the leadership of Samuel who pointed the people to the LORD, their enemies were subdued.
1 Samuel 7:13 (NKJV) “So the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore into the territory of Israel. And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.
Samuel judged Israel and taught Israel passionately, sacrificially. He didn’t simply stay in Ramah and make the people come to him, he did what we call circuit teaching and traveled throughout the country to spread the Word (1 Samuel 7:16). Jesus did the same thing.
The feeding of the 5,000 men, plus women and children is something God definitely wants us to be well aware of, for it’s found in all four Gospels! Jesus shows us who He is by feeding what may well have been 15,000 people with only five barley loaves and two small fish. Imagine that, and imagine how the food must have tasted!
After the meal Jesus commanded His disciples to, “gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” I thought about the many leftovers that I throw away, not good.
The people did indeed see it as a sign and identified Jesus as the Prophet who was to come into the world, based on Deuteronomy 18:15-19. They even wanted to make Him king. At first glance it sounds “like a plan,” but the problem was, that the people were more interested in food and their physical needs, than they were in God and their spiritual needs. They didn’t know that before the crown there must be the cross. They weren’t at all ready for the Messiah, so Jesus sends the Apostles away into a storm where it would be safer than the political atmosphere that was quickly developing. He then goes away from everyone in order to spend time alone with the Father and pray (Matthew 14:23).
O Lord, how many times have I made my belly my god? Forgive me for the way I so often seek You as a means to an end, to meet some other “fleshly want” I have, as opposed to just wanting and having You. Truly You…are all I need.
In the middle of the night Jesus sees His guys straining at rowing (Mark 6:48) and He goes to them walking on water (just as He does to us). He sees us and comes to us. He settles the storm and brings us to our destination, safe and sound.
What a contrast between Psalm 105 and 106. Psalm 105 is all good. It mentions none of the failures of Israel in chronicling its history. But Psalm 106 is pretty much just that, a list of the failures of Israel in history. The common thread, however, in both Psalms is the grace and faithfulness of God.
Israel had a bad memory; they had a tendency to forget the works of the LORD (Psalm 106:13, 21). There were many examples of this.
Rather then just thanking God for His daily provision of manna, they got picky and lusted for food (meat). As often happens in life, we get what we want, but O what a price! Notice what we read in;
Psalm 106:15 (NKJV) “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.”
They envied and opposed Moses, so God swallowed up the rebellious offenders.
Not long after their redemption from Egypt they made an idol, a golden calf, saying it was the LORD and worshipped it, including sexual indulgences in that worship!
They despised the Promised Land through doubt (complaining in their tents).
They couldn’t be cursed but had no problem cursing themselves through more idolatry and blatant sexual sin.
Thank God Moses and Aaron interceded, thank God men like Phinehas intervened, and thank God for His mercy in not giving us what we deserve (Psalm 103:10-14).
Can you relate at all to any of this? A few failures along the way? Prayerfully we learn from their mistakes. Let’s learn NOT to forget God and all He’s done for us, let’s learn NOT to do the things they did. But let’s also learn that if we do stumble and fall, there are consequence yes, but there’s also hope. God is willing to work in our lives and wash away our sins if we truly turn from our sins and return to Him.
Let’s also learn to intercede for others as Moses and Aaron did.
V. 32 – This is a clear contrast between the wicked and the righteous, the saved and the unsaved.
The wicked will be banished, the righteous has a refuge.
This is not something to gloss over. Jesus spoke boldly about banishment.
Matthew 7:23 (NKJV) “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
Matthew 25:41 (NKJV) “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:’”
But for those willing to receive God’s gift of salvation and righteousness in the Lord Jesus Christ – there’s a refuge to look forward to…a home in heaven, in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
V. 33 – If you were to look into the heart of a man of understanding, you would find wisdom – and you don’t necessarily need to do an x-ray or an angiogram, it’ll show on the outside.
Luke 6:45 (NKJV) “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
Just as whatever is within the heart of fools, eventually becomes known.
Acts 8:21 (NKJV) “You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.”
The heart of the matter is still the matter of the heart.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.