Listening to the Word (1 Samuel 3 on) gives new insight, especially to eyes that are tired but ears who want to hear. Listen with this link to hear animated David Suchet speak or read below and you will see how it’s BAD NEWS when you “take the Ark to go” – thinking you can take God’s protection and powers for your will not His… Thinking God’s in a box… Well, He’s not.
It was an Ark of the Covenant. It was a command of God to create a box of items that helped the future generations realize His Promise, a sacred weight to carry and law to hold. Yet who carries this weight for us now? Jesus. He carries our burdens and sins, our broken covenants and broken existence. Delivered.
God wants to be known as Deliverer, rather than be deployed as if He had a decoy.
Drifting into Displeasure, Ark Deployed, Decoyed, Deity Disregarded.
Don’t Mess with God.
Oh the Ark!
Deployed – the Israelites took the Ark to protect themselves in battle against the Philistines, but that was not God’s plan that day, and they were being punished for priest Eli’s, his scoundrel sons, and their own evil ways drifting from Him, for relying upon past glory instead of being faithful to God. Even Eli knew God was displeased, because of what God told Samuel was going to happen.
Oh the Ark!
Decoyed – Well it may have seemed that the Ark itself would provide protection to those Israelites, but it WAS/IS God Almighty Himself Who sends the strength for weathering of storms, the strength to fight the battle, and the already done defeat of the devil (eternally done but locally there still are battles to wage). At that time the Israelites were in and out of battles moving into their delivered promised land, they needed to be DEDICATED to God, they could not win without His Planin place. The Israelites did not think this Ark move could fail, but they themselves failed. The Philistines defeated the Israelites and ALSO captured the Ark. But we know God’s power is not contained solely in the box. The box became a decoy of their distracted focus, they took their eyes off Whom delivered them and disregarded the duty of protecting the sacred elements inside the Ark: the golden pot that had manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.
Oh the Ark!
Destroyed – The loss of the Ark destroyed Eli, who fell down and died with a broken neck. The mistreatment of the Law handed down by the Lord to the people was exacerbated by the two scoundrel sons who were supposed to be in the line of Eli as holy priests. Their derelict of duties and denial of Him caused them both to be destroyed.
Oh the Ark!
Displayed – The Philistines who first thought they would be DOOMED because of the Ark, then displayed the captured Ark in their temple of Dagon, but his false deity was broken, DISMEMBERED. No one then dared to cross the threshold because of fear of being destroyed.
Oh the Ark!
Departed – The daughter-in-law of Eli, distraught over death of her husband, died DEJECTED delivering Ichabod. She said “The Glory of the Lord has Departed.”
Oh the Ark!
Devastation – the Philistine people, worshipers of false god Dagon were afflicted with tumors and devastation. They moved the Ark as they feared wrath but they saw devastation wherever it traveled.
Oh the Ark!
Delivered – The Philistines returned the Ark to Israel. They offered a guilt offering of atonement, models of gold tumors and gold rats. They put the Ark on a cart with oxen and saw that it travelled itself up the hill. The Covenant on the Cart KNEW it’s DESTINATION. A Promise placed not pulled. And the Philistine rulers KNEW this meant that the Lord was the cause of the destruction by tumors and rats.
Oh the Ark!
Discovery – There was DELIGHT for the Ark was returning – but there were also some Israelites who dared take a peak inside the Ark and they died. The Israelites (and Philistines) discovered that the Lord Himself means business! Don’t mess with DESIGNATED Holy items. Don’t mess with God.
DETAIL on Delivery
Oh the Side Detail – as the Ark was Delivered, so should we remember that God’s Promise is DELIVERED. Jesus is the Promise of Deliverance – He KNEW He as the Promise would drive delivery of those who would take Him as Lord.
Docket – What is on the docket for our lives? To find our dedication to the Lord. Be deployed as His children whom He DELIGHTS in. DO know that the Lord has taught lessons of law but we DO live in His Love and we have done nothing to deserve this. What is impossible with men is POSSIBLE by God.
Death is now Destroyed for those who are Delivered.
Live outside the box, it is God who lives among us now. Be His.
1 Samuel 4, 5, 6
The Philistines Capture the Ark
Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield. When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.” So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?” When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, the Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians plagues in the wilderness. Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!” So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
Death of Eli
That same day a Benjamite ran from the battle line and went to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dust on his head. When he arrived, there was Eli sitting on his chair by the side of the road, watching, because his heart feared for the ark of God. When the man entered the town and told what had happened, the whole town sent up a cry. Eli heard the outcry and asked, “What is the meaning of this uproar?” The man hurried over to Eli, who was ninety-eight years old and whose eyes had failed so that he could not see. He told Eli, “I have just come from the battle line; I fled from it this very day.”
Eli asked, “What happened, my son?” The man who brought the news replied, “Israel fled before the Philistines, and the army has suffered heavy losses. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.” When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and he was heavy. He had led Israel forty years.
His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near the time of delivery. When she heard the news that the ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains. As she was dying, the women attending her said, “Don’t despair; you have given birth to a son.” But she did not respond or pay any attention. She named the boy Ichabod, saying, “The Glory has departed from Israel”—because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. She said, “The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”
After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.
The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors. When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.” So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?”
They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel. But after they had moved it, the Lord’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors. So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy on it. Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.
When the ark of the Lord had been in Philistine territory seven months, the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it back to its place.” They answered, “If you return the ark of the god of Israel, do not send it back to him without a gift; by all means send a guilt offering to him. Then you will be healed, and you will know why his hand has not been lifted from you.” The Philistines asked, “What guilt offering should we send to him?” They replied, “Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers. Make models of the tumors and of the rats that are destroying the country, and give glory to Israel’s god. Perhaps he will lift his hand from you and your gods and your land. Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When Israel’s god dealt harshly with them, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way?
“Now then, get a new cart ready, with two cows that have calved and have never been yoked. Hitch the cows to the cart, but take their calves away and pen them up. Take the ark of the Lord and put it on the cart, and in a chest beside it put the gold objects you are sending back to him as a guilt offering. Send it on its way, but keep watching it. If it goes up to its own territory, toward Beth Shemesh, then the Lord has brought this great disaster on us. But if it does not, then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us but that it happened to us by chance.”
So they did this. They took two such cows and hitched them to the cart and penned up their calves. They placed the ark of the Lord on the cart and along with it the chest containing the gold rats and the models of the tumors. Then the cows went straight up toward Beth Shemesh, keeping on the road and lowing all the way; they did not turn to the right or to the left. The rulers of the Philistines followed them as far as the border of Beth Shemesh.
These are the gold tumors the Philistines sent as a guilt offering to the Lord—one each for Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. And the number of the gold rats was according to the number of Philistine towns belonging to the five rulers—the fortified towns with their country villages. The large rock on which the Levites set the ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.
But God struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy[a] of them to death because they looked into the ark of the Lord. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the Lord had dealt them. And the people of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?” Then they sent messengers to the people of Kiriath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to your town.”