1Samuel 4-6

Sunday Evening Bible Study

January 6, 2002

Introduction

We are in the times of the “judges”, before there was a king in Israel.  These are dark times for the nation.  It was rare for people to hear from God.  Finally, God got a hold of a woman named Hannah.  She was desperate because she could not have children.  She made a vow to God that if God would give her a son, she would give the child back to the Lord.  And the boy Samuel was born.  When Samuel was about three years old, Hannah took him to the Tabernacle, and the priests raised him there.  God would use this boy.  God spoke to this boy.

1 Samuel 4

:1-2  Philistine War

:1  And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek.

Samuel was now the person that God was using to talk to His people.

But pay attention here.  We read that neither Samuel nor God was consulted about this war on the Philistines.

Philistines – the Philistines were originally a sea-faring people who came possibly from the island of Crete.  I have even heard of speculation that they may have been descendants of the people of “Atlantis”.  There is an island in the Mediterranean that seems to have been destroyed by volcanic activity, and its civilization has some parallels to the Philistines.  The Philistines seem to have had two migrations into the land of Israel, one during the time of Abraham (2000 BC), and the other around 1200 BC.  They settled mainly into five cities located on the coast of Israel – Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath, and Ashdod. Their chief deity was named “Dagon”, and was thought to be half-man and half-fish with the head and torso of a man, and the tail fins of a fish.

EbenezerSee map

Aphek – a city about 20 miles west of Shiloh. It’s at the northern edge of the Philistine territory.  It’s also down on the flat coastal plain, a preferable type of battlefield.  See map

The idea is that the Philistines are the aggressors. 

:3-9  Ark brought to the war

:3  Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines?

There actually was an answer to this question, but the people aren’t really looking for an answer.  They think they already know what the answer is.

Lesson

Let God answer your questions.

I think that sometimes we too are asking questions but somehow it doesn’t occur to us that God actually has an answer to what we’re asking.

:3  Let us fetch the ark  … it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

the ark of the covenant – this is the gold covered box that held the Ten Commandments written on stone tablets by the finger of God.  It was covered with a solid gold lid with two angelic beings on it called the “Mercy Seat”.  The box and its lid were to be kept in the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary at the Tabernacle.  The Ark was to be a picture of God’s throne in heaven.

it may save us – The nation is entering into a phase where the Ark is no longer a symbol that is to remind them of God’s presence, but it is being seen as having power in itself.

Lesson

Superstition

We can see others that fall into superstitious behavior – rabbit’s feet, lucky four-leaf clovers, etc. 
We might even think of people who look to religious things like statues of Mary, statues of saints, rosary beads, etc.
But sometimes even people who ought to know better can fall into a trap of thinking that God is only going to work at certain places, like Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa.
All of this stems from a lack of the real presence of the Lord.
When we’ve wandered away from the Lord, we can fall into thinking that certain “things” will bring back that sense of closeness.
What we really need is simply to turn around and come back to Him.

We’ll see this demonstrated when we get to chapter seven,

(1 Sam 7:3 KJV)  And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.

:4 So the people sent to Shiloh

Shiloh – Twenty miles north of Jerusalem.  This was the current home of the Tabernacle and the Ark.  This was the “central sanctuary” where God was worshipped by the Israelites.  See map

:4  the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims

This is a reference to the picture that the Ark gave, as it was covered with the Mercy Seat, which had two angelic beings facing each other with their wings outstretched, touching wingtips.  God said,

(Exo 25:22 KJV)  And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

:4  two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas

Eli was the High Priest at the time.  Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s sons, were the wicked men that were the main reason why there will be a judgment against Israel. As priests, they were in charge of the Ark.

:5  so that the earth rang again.

(NIV) all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook.

:7  God is come into the camp

God ‘elohiym   (plural)  gods; (plural intensive-singular meaning)  the (true) God

:8  these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.

Gods ‘elohiym   (plural)  gods; (plural intensive-singular meaning)  the (true) God

It’s hard to know what the Philistines are thinking exactly.  But they use the same plural form in both verse 7 and in verse 8.  I think that it might be better if you translate them both the same, either both of them saying “gods” or both of them saying “God”.

The Philistines are aware of the history of Israel.  They know what God had done for Israel in delivering them from Egypt.

:9  quit yourselves like men, and fight.

quithayah – to be, become.  “Be men!”

The Philistines psych themselves into a frenzy before they fight the Israelites again.  They figure that they are now no longer just fighting with the Israelite army, but also with the Israelite “god”.

Be careful that you don’t think that this is what gives the Philistines the victory.

The Philistine victory comes simply because God has decided that Israel needs judgment.  They need a “wake-up” call.

Lesson

Act like men

God does want us men to act like men.
(1 Cor 16:13 KJV)  Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

God wants men to learn to be strong.  But the difference here in Corinthians is that we aren’t just supposed to be strong, but we are to be strong in the Lord.  We are to “stand fast” in the faith.

:10-11  The ark is lost

:10  there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen

The Israelites thought that they had a secret weapon.  They thought that the ark would be like a magic charm to give them victory.  They were trusting in the ark and not in the Lord.

Instead of having victory with their “lucky charm”, they have an even worse defeat.

:11 And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

God had earlier warned Eli through a prophet that judgment was coming on his house because of the sins of his sons and because of Eli’s refusal to deal seriously with the problem:

(1 Sam 2:34 KJV)  And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them.

The prophecy comes true.

:12-18  Eli dies

:12  his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head.

This was done out of mourning.  A person that was mourning the loss of a loved one would tear their clothes and put dirt or ashes on their heads.

:13  his heart trembled for the ark of God

As the High Priest of Israel, Eli above all others was responsible for protecting the ark.  He has allowed the ark to be taken into battle.

:15 Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see.

Eli is very old.  He has gone blind.

:19  he was an old man, and heavy

heavykabad – to be heavy, be weighty, be grievous, be hard, be rich, be honourable, be glorious, be burdensome, be honoured

Eli had been rebuked by the prophet

(1 Sam 2:29 KJV)  Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?

Eli hears of his sons’ deaths.  But it isn’t until he hears the news about the ark that he falls backwards off his seat.  Because he is old, fragile, and heavy, he breaks his neck and dies.

:19-22  Ichabod

:19  she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her.

Phinehas’ pregnant wife hears all the bad news and goes into labor.

:20 And about the time of her death

The woman would die at the birth of this child.  This was not an uncommon thing, for a woman to die in childbirth.  The ladies helping her try to cheer her up.  A son being born was considered a good thing.

:21 she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel

Ichabod‘Iy-kabowd – “no glory”

I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but this name is based on the word that was translated “heavy” in verse 18, describing how fat Eli was.  The word “glory” can carry the idea of being “weighty” or “honorable”.

She names the child this because the ark has been lost as well as for the deaths of Eli and his sons.

:22 And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.

Lesson

It ain’t over

For this gal, it looks as if the end of the world has come.  And the end of her world has come.  But it’s not the end.
Sometimes we don’t understand why we should go through such tragedy or difficulty.  Hold on.  Let God work.  See what God will do.
As a pastor, one of the things I enjoy least is watching as various families or individuals are met with difficult times.  It is happening all the time. I used to think, “How come our little church is always hit with such tough things?”  But I’m beginning to realize that it’s just life.  As a pastor, I tend to be one of the people that is contacted in difficult times, so I am more aware.  As an individual, we see difficult times in our own lives as being a tragic “ending”.  We wonder how we will ever survive.  Yet we can survive.  In fact, God can even take a tragedy and use it to bring a benefit.  God can bring good from tough times.
Paul wrote,
(2 Cor 4:8-18 KJV)  We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; {9} Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; {10} Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. {11} For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. {12} So then death worketh in us, but life in you. {13} We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; {14} Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. {15} For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. {16} For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. {17} For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; {18} While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
For Israel, it looks as if the “glory” is now gone, but in fact, God is simply cleaning house.  It’s time to turn the page.  It’s time to start a new chapter.  And things aren’t going to be worse, things are going to be better.  Much better.

1 Samuel 5

:1-2  Ark and Dagon

:1  And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod.

Ashdod ‘Ashdowd – “powerful”.  One of the five main Philistine cities.  Ebenezer is up in the hills, Ashdod is on the coastal plain about 36 miles to the southwest.  See map

:2  they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.

DagonDagown – “a fish”.  The main Philistine god, the top half was of a man, the bottom half was of a fish.  He was a god of fertility.  The Philistines take the ark to Dagon’s temple.  This is to be a show that Dagon was superior to the God of Israel.

Note:  They certainly couldn’t have put the Ark in the house of Dagon in Gaza.  Why?  That was the temple that Samson had torn down. (Judges 16:30)

:3-5  Dagon falls

:3  Dagon was fallen upon his face

Lesson

Can your “god” fall down?

What are you putting your trust in?  Who do you count on?  Can your “god” fall?
Some people put their whole lives into their job, and then they are laid off.  Some people put their whole lives into their marriage, and then their spouse leaves them.
Can your “god” fail?
Your “god” is the thing or person that is most important to you.
A good test might be to think of the top 5 things or people that are important to you and ask yourself, “what if this thing or person fails me?”
If you would be devasted, then perhaps that “thing” might have become a “god” to you.

:4  Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark

Lesson

Every knee shall bow

What a picture!
(Phil 2:5-11 KJV)  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: {6} Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: {7} But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: {8} And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. {9} Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: {10} That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; {11} And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

To get the point across, God knocks this pagan piece of stone on it’s face and sends the Philistines a message.

:4  the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold

(NLT) This time his head and hands had broken off and were lying in the doorway.

:5 neither the priests of Dagon …tread on the threshold of Dagon

Apparently the priests of Dagon were so freaked out that they instituted a new religious ritual that kept them from walking on the threshold of Dagon’s temple.  Perhaps they instituted a little “hop” over the threshold.  They did this in remembrance of the day that their god fell apart. The practice was still in effect at the time that the writer of 1Samuel was recording this.

Lesson

God still moves today.

Perhaps you might think that this is nothing more than just a superstitious story belonging to a culture of people who are unsophisticated.  Perhaps you don’t think that God would really do things like this.  Perhaps you might think that this is just a coincidence.
Listen to an e-mail I received on Friday:
Illustration
Chinese Farmer’s Prayer
A Chinese Farmers’ rule: “Stand with your arm outstretched, turn slowly around in a circle, and pray for everything you see through your fingers.”
That was what Lo, a semi-illiterate farmer, did every evening while standing on the dam around his rice field. With a hoe over one shoulder, he stretched out an arm, spread his fingers and turned slowly on the spot. He looked rather strange, bare-footed, wearing a dirty shirt and trousers rolled up to his knees, and his neighbours originally assumed he was performing some sort of Qi-gong exercise - until a group of young boys crept close and heard him praying. He prayed for everything that he saw through his spread fingers. He saw his neighbour’s fields, and prayed “Lord, bless my neighbour and give him a bountiful harvest.” He saw his friend’s water buffalo, and prayed “Lord, please keep the animal healthy and strong, because it is so important for my friend.” He saw clouds of smoke rising from the quarry in the distance, and prayed “Lord, protect the people there with so much dynamite. Let every stone from the ground you made become part of a house.” He turned further, and saw the broken windows in the glass factory: “Lord, protect the women in the factory, and let them experience you during their work.” He prayed for everything which he saw: inhabitants of a house, the owner of a field, an animal, trees or dams - he prayed that they would blossom and remain strong. Lo was the only Christian in the area, and his neighbours considered his prayers strange. They knew, though, that he was not very bright, so they thought he was just a little crazy. Lo died of a heart attack at 51, with no family. One by one, accidents and disasters started to happen in the area: four men were killed by an explosion in the quarry; a young woman lost her arm in an accident in the glass factory; a water buffalo ran amok, destroying important irrigation channels. Finally, the villagers gathered and said “The accidents are happening because Lo is no longer here to pray for us. We know from our children that nobody was hurt and the harvest was always good while he prayed.” They discussed until late at night, and decided to find out which God he had been praying to, regretting not having been more interested in his faith while he was alive. In order to find the answer, they lit joss-sticks on a local altar. Strangely, the statue of a warrior on the altar fell down every night, its face lying in the mud. Finally, they had an idea: “The god always falls in the same direction.” It was pointing to Lo’s old house. They went to the house, now occupied by a family, and started to search. After some time, someone called “I’ve found something,” and pulled a small book from under the eaves. They brought the book to the statue, lit more joss-sticks, and wondered what would happen next. That day, a young evangelist arrived in the area, and started to preach in the fields: “Let me tell you about Jesus Christ, brother,” he began, but didn’t get any further, because a group of men seized his arms and legs, saying “What are you doing, bringing your idolatry here?” As they dragged him past the altar, they heard a loud bang and a scream. They dropped the evangelist, and ran to the altar, where they discovered that the statue had again fallen down, this time on a young woman’s leg. While they worked to free the woman, the evangelist approached. He recognised Lo’s book on the altar, picked it up and asked “That’s a Bible - where did you get it?” The others stared at him and asked if he knew the book. “Of course, it’s the book about Jesus Christ, the greatest God, who answers prayer like no other.” Those were the words the villagers had been waiting to hear. “The book belonged to a local farmer,” they said. “We thought he was crazy, but we can see that his prayers were very effective. Please tell us about this God!” The evangelist patted the dust from his clothes and began to speak. He noticed that his thumb was still marking a particular page, at which the Bible had opened when he picked it up. When he looked, he was amazed: 1 Samuel 5, telling the story of the Philistine god Dagon falling on its face in front of the Ark of the Covenant. “I have never had a better text for a sermon,” he says, grinning. The villagers, who are now all Christians, add “Our harvests have improved, and the number of accidents has dropped.” The nicest thing, though, is that Lo’s inheritance lives on: every evening, some ten or fifteen people stand on the dams, stretch out one arm, spread their fingers and turn slowly on the spot, praying quietly. And everyone carries a hoe on one shoulder, in Lo’s honour.
Source: Friday Fax 2002 Issue 1, 4 January; original source: Open Doors

I find it amazingly interesting that I received this message in an e-mail the day I began to prepare for the message on 1Samuel 5.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.  God still moves.  He can still knock those idols on their face.

:6-12  Emerods

:6 smote them with emerods

smotenakah – to strike, smite, hit, beat, slay, kill

emerods – there are two Hebrew words used here: ‘ophel – hill, mound, Ophel; tumor, hemorrhoid; and – [email protected] – tumors, hemorrhoids, piles

(NAS) He ravaged them and smote them with tumors.  That’s a more pleasant way to put it.  Hemorrhoid appears to be the more correct interpretation.

This was apparently part of the plagues that afflicted the Egyptians, and God had promised Israel that if they disobeyed Him, they would be afflicted with the same plagues:

(Deu 28:27 KJV)  The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.

:8 They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them

Each of the five cities of the Philistines was ruled by a “lord”.  There were five “lords” of the Philistines.

:8  Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath.

GathGath – “winepress”.  About twelve miles inland from Ashdod.  This city would become famous very soon by a very tall person, Goliath.

I wonder if the Lord of Gath voted for this.

:9  they had emerods in their secret parts.

secret parts sathar   (Niphal) to burst out, break out. 

Probably would be better to translate this, “they had an outbreak of hemorrhoids”

:10 Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron.

There is no vote taken by the lords of the Philistines.  The people of Gath just send the ark to Ekron.

Ekron ‘Eqrown – “emigration” or “torn up by the roots”. 

Of the five cities of the Philistines, this is the one closest to Israel, the farthest one to the north.

:10  They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people.

The people of Ekron don’t want to find out what is going to happen when the ark comes to visit them.  But they’ll find out.

:11  the hand of God was very heavy there.

We tend to snicker at the thought of the Philistines being struck with hemorrhoids, but there was more than this going on.

When we see what they will do to send the ark back, we get the idea that there might have been some kind of mice infestation as well.  Some have suggested that along with the mice, there might have been an outbreak of bubonic plague, since fleas on the rodents carry the plague.

:12  the cry of the city went up to heaven.

Lesson

God can take care of Himself.

Eli was horrified at the thought of Israel losing the ark.  Perhaps he felt that he had let God down in his responsibilities.
But God is able to take care of Himself. 
We are not God’s defenders, God is our defender.
I think that there is very much a place for us to be “defenders of the faith”.

The Bible says,

(1 Pet 3:15 KJV)  be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Yet as we do this, we need to keep in mind that there is a sense in which God needs no defending.

Lesson

God can use the godless to bring judgment.

We have another example of how God brought judgment on Israel through the Philistines.  Because the Israelites were backslidden, God used the Philistines to bring defeat to His people.
Yet God would turn around and bring His own judgment on the Philistines.
I think that there might be a sense in which the terrorist attacks on our nation could be considered a type of judgment, a type of wake-up call for America.  I think that we as a nation have strayed from the Lord and as a result God withdrew His protection from us.  God used a horrible, godless person like bin Laden to bring judgment on the nation.  But bin Laden will be judged by God.

1 Samuel 6

:1-18  The ark is returned

:1  And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months.

It seems to me that they had a sense from the beginning where their calamity was coming from.  Yet it took seven months before they finally gave up.  I’d say the Philistines were a little stubborn in their own pride, being unwilling to give up this “god” that they had captured.

:2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do …

priestskohen – priest, principal officer or chief ruler; pagan priests; priests of Jehovah

divinersqacam   (Qal) to practice divination, divine; of diviners of the nations, Balaam; of false prophets of Israel; prohibited

:3 return him a trespass offering

a trespass offering ‘asham – guilt, offense, sin, guiltiness; compensation (for offense); trespass or sin offering

:4  Five golden emerods, and five golden mice … one plague was on you all

five golden emerods

JFB:  “Votive or thank offerings were commonly made by the heathen in prayer for, or gratitude after, deliverance from lingering or dangerous disorders, in the form of metallic (generally silver) models or images of the diseased parts of the body.”

five golden mice – this is why it is thought that the hemorrhoids were accompanied by a mice infestation.

was on you all – It wasn’t just the cities of Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron that were affected, but ALL of the cities of the Philistines were affected.

:5  peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.

They think that if they offer this gold to the God of Israel, that things might get better.

:6 Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh

They know of the history of Israel in Egypt.  They don’t want to go down the same road as Pharaoh and have things get worse and worse.

:7 make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke

a new cart – one commentary suggested that it might have been a covered wagon.

two milch kine – or, “two milk cows”.

:8  put the jewels of gold …in a coffer

a coffer ‘argaz – box, chest, coffer

:9  if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Bethshemesh …

BethshemeshBeyth Shemesh = “house of the sun”.  A town of Israel about seven miles to the east of Ekron.  It was a Levitical city, Levites lived there (Josh. 21:16) See map

The Philistines are going to let the cows take the cart wherever they want.

The natural thing that these two cows are going to want to do is to go home to their babies and feed them.  They are going to want to be milked.  The last thing these cows are naturally going to do is wander farther from home.

If these cows act contrary to their nature and go towards Bethshemesh, then the Philistines will know that this was a “God-thing”.

If the cows came back to Ekron, the Philistines would know that this wasn’t Israel’s god causing the problems, and they’d have their gold back.

:12 the kine took the straight way to the way of Bethshemesh … lowing as they went

The milk cows are probably lowing because they want to be milked, but they go against instinct and head straight toward Bethshemesh.  I think it’s interesting that the lowing of the cows is going to help bring attention to what’s on the cart.

Note:  I think this must have been an amusing event to the Lord in heaven to watch these five proud, grand lords of the Philistines following a couple of cows.

:13  reaping their wheat harvest in the valley

This places the event around the end of May or the beginning of June.

:14  the cart came into the field of Joshua

I find it interesting that the oxen brought the ark to Joshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus)

The people take the cart and the oxen and use them to offer a burnt offering to the Lord.

:16 And when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.

I wonder what the five lords of the Philistines said to each other as they walked home that day.

:18 And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines

It’s possible that there might have been more than five golden mice.  Perhaps each of the cities wanted to pitch in to get rid of the infestation.

:19-21  Bethshemesh smitten

:19  he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men

Perhaps 50,070 people are killed. 

Another way of translating this could be, “he smote fifty out of a thousand, namely seventy men”.  It is thought that there were 1400 people who looked at the ark, and 1/20 of them were killed, namely 70 people.  Both Josephus and the Septuagint record that there were seventy killed.

:19  because they had looked into the ark of the LORD

The ark was a box.  Kind of like a treasure chest with valuables inside.  Somebody got curious as to what was inside, and they peeked.

What was in the ark?

At the very least, there should have been two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them.
There may have also been a pot of manna and Aaron’s rod that budded (Heb. 9:4).

By the time that Solomon built the temple,

(1 Ki 8:9 KJV)  There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.
What happened to the pot of manna and the rod of Aaron?  Some have suggested that the men of Bethshemesh , or even the Philistines, might have taken them.

:20  to whom shall he go up from us?

Who will dare take the ark now?

:21 they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjathjearim

KirjathjearimQiryath [email protected]‘ariym = “city of forests”.  A city eight miles northeast of Bethshemesh, up in the hills. See map

Why wasn’t the ark returned to Shiloh?

Ryrie:  “The ark was not returned to Shiloh, for archaeological data indicates that the city was destroyed about 1050 bc (cf. Jer. 26:9), perhaps after the battle at Aphek (1 Sam. 4).”

The ark would stay at Kirjathjearim for about 100 years, until the time of David, when he would bring it up to Jerusalem.

:20  Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God?

Lesson

God is holy

God is not like us.  He is pure.  He is without sin.  He is holy.
The ark was not God, but it was to be a symbol to remind people of God’s presence, and so God wanted the people to treat it differently.
This form of transporting the ark would be copied later.
God intended that the ark be carried on the shoulders of the priests. (Exo 25:12-14). But the Philistines put it on an ox cart.  But after all, they were just Philistines, they didn’t know any better.
David and the ark.
When David later decided to bring the ark from Kirjathjearim to his capitol of Jerusalem, he wasn’t sure how to move it, so he just did what was done the last time it was moved.  He used the Philistine example, putting the ark on an oxcart.  It brought trouble.  When one of the oxen stumbled, a priest reached out to steady the ark, and God put the man to death.  It wasn’t until later that David found out what the problem was, and corrected it by finally finishing the move by having the priests carry the ark.

(1 Chr 15:15 KJV)  And the children of the Levites bare the ark of God upon their shoulders with the staves thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of the LORD.

Don’t treat the things of God like the world would.
Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10)
(Lev 10:3 NASB)  Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the LORD spoke, saying, 'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.'" So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.
Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5)
(Acts 5:3 KJV)  But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Why doesn’t God strike me dead?
He probably ought to.  But He doesn’t.

There are people who will say from time to time, “It’s time for God to purify His church!”  I think we ought to be careful about statements like that because it would probably mean that most of us would drop dead.

It’s because of His mercy that we are not consumed.

This ought to give us a new appreciation of God’s love for us, to know how holy He is, how impure we are, and that He would still love us.

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