Getting to Know . . . I Samuel (chapter 5) Superstition or Sovereignty?

12 Nov

The ark captured! The symbol of the very presence of God — gambled away and now possessed by pagans!

The Philistines park it beside their idol Dagon in their temple. Overnight Dagon was on his face before the ark of the Lord (v. 3). They set Dagon back up “in his place,” but the next morning he was again on his face and his head and hands had been broken off! (v. 4).

“The Lord’s hand was heavy” on the people of Ashdod, bringing devastation and tumors (v. 6). They move the ark of God to Gath where the Lord threw the city into a great panic, afflicting all ages with tumors (v. 9). They tried to send the ark to Ekron, but the people begged the ark to be sent back to Israel. We read that “God’s hand was very heavy on [the city of Ekron] and that “those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven” (v. 12).

How are we to understand this account?  We know that there was nothing magical about the ark.  It was made by humans.  But it was used by the true God to show His presence and to punish those who opposed Israel.

The ark brought great affliction to the Philistines who had captured it.  Why had it not brought great victory to the Israelites who deployed it in battle?  In Joshua 3, the ark caused the river to become dry for passage as Israel moved into the Promised Land. The ark was carried around the city of Jericho — and the walls came tumblin’ down.

What we can say is that God was in sovereign control.  We don’t control Him.  To think that He could be managed or manipulated by a religious symbol is blasphemy.

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Posted by on November 12, 2018 in I Samuel 5


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