The Fear of the Lord
Comments for Study 2
1 Samuel 4:1-7:1
Memory Verse: 7:3
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I. The Glory Has Departed (4:1-22)
>1. Who were the Philistines? (Judges 3:1-6; 1 Sam. 13:19-20; 17:1-4)
* 1 Samuel 4:1 "And Samuel's word came to all Israel. Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek."
* Judges 3:1-6 "These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord's commands, which he had given their forefathers through Moses. The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods."
* 1 Samuel 13:19-20 "Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, "Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!" So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plowshares, mattocks, axes and sickles sharpened."
* 1 Samuel 17:1-4 "Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Socoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Socoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them. A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall."
* Genesis 10:14 "Pathrusites, Casluhites (from whom the Philistines came) and Caphtorites." Casluhites is a clan name of sons of Mizraim (or Egypt)” and father of the Philistines in this verse from the Table of Nations. Their origin is not known.
* Genesis 21:34 "And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.
* Genesis 26:1 "Now there was a famine in the land--besides the earlier famine of Abraham's time--and Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines in Gerar."
* Genesis 26:14-15 "He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. So all the wells that his father's servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth."
* Exodus 23:31 "I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River. I will hand over to you the people who live in the land and you will drive them out before you." The "Sea of the Philistines" is the Mediterranean Sea.
* Joshua 13:1-2 "When Joshua was old and well advanced in years, the Lord said to him, 'You are very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over. "This is the land that remains: all the regions of the Philistines and Geshurites...'"
* "the Philistines" -Philistine refers to a group of non-Semitic people perhaps from first Asia Minor and then Crete who occupied and gave their name to the south-west part of Palestine. Ancient Egyptian records from the time of Merneptah and Ramses III referred to them as the “prst.” Ancient Assyrian records include references to the Philistines in the terms Philistia and Palastu. The origin and background of the Philistines had not been completely clarified. Ancient Egyptian records include the “prst” as part of a larger movement of people known as the Sea Peoples, who invaded Egypt about 1188 B.C. by land and by sea, battling the forces of Ramses III, who, according to Egyptian records, defeated them. The Sea Peoples, a massive group that originated in the Aegean area, included the Tjeker, the Skekelesh, the Denyen, the Sherden, and the Weshwesh as well as the “prst” or Pelesti, the biblical Philistines. As they moved eastward from the Aegean region, the Sea Peoples made war with people in their path including the Hittites in Anatolia and the inhabitants at sites in North Syria such as those at the site of Ugarit. According to biblical references, the homeland of the Philistines was Caphtor (Amos 9:7; Jer. 47:4). (Holman Bible Dictionary)
* "Samuel's word came to all Israel" -Samuel was a Bible teacher, prophet, and an assistant to the priests. However, the leader and chief priest of Israel was Eli. As an emphasis of this Samuel is not mentioned again until 7:3. 7:2 reveals that between this event and Samuel's call for repentance in 7:3 was over twenty years. Thus, Samuel had three phases in his life; youthful call and service, over twenty silent years, and acting as judge, priest, and prophet in later years. Jesus' life was the same, marked with a long period of silence in the middle of his life.
* The fact that Samuel is not mentioned in the next chapters shows his humility. He knew of God's plan and yet because the elders of Israel did not seek him, Samuel stayed out of the events. He did not enter Israel's history again until Israel's elders repented, sought the Lord and Samuel's guidance. Samuel is like Jesus, humble and gentle. Jesus will not force his leadership on anyone or any nation. He waits for them to come to him, accept him and ask for his leadership. Jesus did not seek leadership when he first came, but made himself a humble servant. Jesus is waiting to this day for his people to ask him to lead them; from Israel's leaders right down to the individual Christian.
* Samuel's life is no different than any other called and chosen by God. God initiates. God follows through. God strengthens and enables. God brings to conclusion. The Lord God is the one whom all credit is due. This is true for me and you, if you are open to obey his call to you.
* "Ebenezar" -Ebenezar means "stone of help" and was just east of Aphek. This was not the location of he stone that Samuel would later set up.
* "Aphek" -Aphek is a town about twelve miles (1km) north-east of the coastal city of Joppa. The Philistines were well north of their home land, a collection of five cities. The city is not far west of Shiloh.
>What happened when the Israelites went out to fight them?
* 1 Samuel 4:2 "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."
* "Israel was defeated" -The passage does not explain why there was a war or who was at fault.
* The book of Joshua and Judges shows that when Israel had a leader who feared and loved the Lord they won battles. When they had a leader like Eli and his sons they lost battles.
* God puts his people in environments and situations where we can be purified, grow in faith, and seek him with all our hearts. David wrote in Psalm 23, "your rod and your staff comfort me." A good shepherd needs to rap staying sheep with his rod and staff to keep them from harm and in green pastures.
* Troubles in one's life do not always mean that we are outside of God's will for our life. Take for example Paul's near death episodes and Jesus' crucifixion and death. However, we should always example our heart in the presence of the Lord with prayers and petitions. Romans 12:2 states, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."
* "four thousand" -The Hebrew word translated as "thousand" is "elep". The word may have designated at this time a unit of soldiers of a particular size, unknown now, but numbering considerably less than a thousand. (from Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries who quote from R.E.D. Clark, "The Large Numbers of the Old Testament", G.E. Mendenhall "The Census Lists of numbers 1 and 25", and J.W. Wenham "Large Numbers in the Old Testament")
>2. What did the Israelites decided to do in their desperation? (3-4)
* 1 Samuel 4:3-4 "When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, "Why did the Lord bring defeat upon us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the Lord's covenant from Shiloh, so that it 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 soldiers returned to camp" -Many Israelites had died, yet they were able to hold their ground for the day. Nations did not fight at night in those days.
* "the elders of Israel" -Men chosen by the people to represent the whole. Since they were older than the rest, they were considered wiser. They were probably to proud to seek the advice of young Samuel though he was clearly a prophet of the Lord.
* "Let us bring" -The Israelites had not considered the Lord before this defeat.
* "the ark of the Lord's covenant" -The Lord God said he would dwell with them, the ark being his footstool as he sat in heaven. (1 Chron. 28:2) See below for more information.
* "it may go with us and save us" -Note the word "it". They thought the ark would save them, not the Lord. They could not distinguish between the Lord and the ark that represented his presence with them.
* "Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God." -Eli allowed this to happen. Priests were the only one who was required to carry the ark. Eli was to old to carry it. His sons would take his place. It is possible that they did not join the army of Israel until they brought the ark to Israel's camp.
* "Why did the Lord" -Asking why trouble comes in our life is important. However, often people conclude the wrong answer. The correct answer will come from the Lord. In this case they did not seek a prophet like Samuel. They did have Eli's sons with them, who were notable wicked men. Most likely they were considered as one of the elders.
* "the Lord bring defeat upon us today before the Philistines" -They acknowledged that the Lord was their God and he brought the defeat.
* In this incident the Israelites wanted to use God for their plans. They did not seek God for his plans.
* The Israelites used the ark like a charm or an idol. God cannot be manipulated to conform to our wills. We can seek him and ask him. However, we must be ready for his "no" or alteration to our plans and desires.
>What did the ark of the Lord's covenant mean to the Israelites? (Exodus 25:8-22; Dt. 31:9; Jos. 3:14-17)
* Exodus 25:8-22 "Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you. Have them make a chest of acacia wood--two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the chest to carry it. The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. Then put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. Make an atonement cover of pure gold--two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites."
* Deuteronomy 31:9 "So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel."
* Joshua 3:14-17 "So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground."
* In Joshua's time the ark lead the way across the Jordan and went before them as they marched around Jericho. This showed that the Lord was with them, as he had been with them in the column of cloud and fire in the desert before the ark was made.
* "Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim" -As the two cherubim (Ex. 25:10-22) were symbols of the real angels who are over the Lord's throne in heaven, so the ark was a symbol. Exodus 25:22 states that this is the "mercy seat" where the Lord would meet with his people and give them his word.
* "Lord Almighty" -Lord is YHWH in Hebrew. Almighty is "saba" in Hebrew and translated as "of hosts" in the KJV. 1 Samuel is the first place in the Bible that the two words are brought together. Though "God Almighty" (Shadday el) is used in Genesis 17:1 (see also Ex. 6:3). Ruth 1:21 uses Almighty (shadday) and LORD (YHWH) are used separately though in the same sentence. The Lord's hosts comprise of angels (Jos. 5:4), stars (Isa. 40:26), and men (1 Sam. 17:45). The name expresses the infinite resources of power which are at the disposal of the Lord as he works on behalf of his people.
>3. When the ark came into the Israelites camp, how did the people respond?
* 1 Samuel 4:5 "When the ark of the Lord's covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook."
* "such a great shout" -They were excited and confident of their decision.
* The Israelites will soon find out that God cannot be manipulated like some impersonal idol.
>How did the Philistines react?
* 1 Samuel 4:6-9 "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. "We're in trouble! Nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the desert. Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!"
* "a god has come into the camp... mighty gods" -The Philistines assumed that the Israelites religion was polytheistic like theirs.
* "nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us!" -An exclamation point is used because ancient writers pressed hard when writing to show great emotion. The Philistines had fear and reverence for Israel's God, though what they knew of him was limited and somewhat incorrect. They didn't fear Israel, they feared their God.
* "Be strong... be men and fight" -This is to say, "Let's fight and die" because its better than being slaves to Israel. The Philistines fought for their life.
* The Israelites should have had more knowledge of their God than the Philistines. Their use of the ark showed that they did not. Those who call themselves Christians should have a deep knowledge and relationship with Jesus, our Lord and God. Sadly many do not study the Bible and obey by living by faith. Are you any better than Israel here?
* "Hebrew" -Hebrew was a derogatory term used by non-Semitic people and nations to describe the descendants of Eber, son of Shem. (Gen. 10:21, 24-25) Abraham was a descendant of Eber. (Gen. 11:14-26) It is used in terms of slavery and servants.
* "you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you" -This was during the forty years that Israel was subject to the Philistines. God raised Samson to begin the Israelites freedom from the forty years of slavery. This is recorded in Judges 13:1-5. It states, "Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, so the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years... and (Samson) will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines." Samuel, Saul and David finished the deliverance. Solomon's reign was not bothered by the Philistines. (2 Chron. 9:26, and 1 Kings 4:21) Hezekiah utterly defeated them and they were heard of no more. (2 Kings 18:5-8)
>Who won the battle? (10-11)
* 1 Samuel 4:10-11 "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."
* "every man fled to his tent" -The defeat was definite. Israel's confidence melted away. They ran in fear.
* "thirty thousand" -See note about about the Hebrew word translated as thousand.
* "the ark was captured" -The Israelites actually through it away by their actions. When we treat God like a majic worker or a genie we trough away a personal relationship with the loving and powerful creator God, Jesus.
* God's word through the unnamed man of God and Samuel are being fulfilled.
* Deuteronomy 28:15, 25 "However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you... The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth."
* If the Israelites had been diligently studying the Bible in peaceful time instead of seeking him only when they were in trouble they would have understood the truth and what to do when trouble came.
* The Israelites trusted in the symbol of God instead of the living and active Lord Almighty himself.
* God's presence with his people depends on their worship in spirit and truth.
* Eli and his sons were not good spiritual leaders. Eli was appointed by God because of his ancestors, yet his sons did not know the Lord and were evil. Israel's elders did not know the word of the Lord because Eli had not taught them properly. Eli did the service of a priest without the basis of the one and true God. How many pastors, shepherds, priest, spiritual fathers, elders, missionaries, deacons, and Bible teachers have fallen under this same error?
* Spiritual elders should not be so proud to acknowledge when the Lord is working through someone younger than they. God will make evident his working through a person that man's life fruits. (Gal. 5:22-23, John 21:17) If God blesses a younger person his elders would do best to seek his advice and place him in a place of leadership. I know of an elder who came to power in a congregation's center by lies and deceit and then who would not recognize a young man who was clearly blessed by God even in terms the elder could not refute. He despised the young man, opposed him, humiliated him, persecuted him, took away and hindered his ministry, and spoke poorly of him to many especially to the elder's elder. This elder is still a liar and a thief, no better then the elders of Israel who did not get advice from and respect young Samuel; blessed by God as a messenger, prophet, priest, and Bible teacher of many sheep. Are you like the elders or like Samuel?
>What was wrong with using the ark in this way?
* They acted as if it possessed some power, when in fact is was God who was in power, not the seat his feet rested on.
* The Israelites thought that by changing their outside circumstance God would bless them. What God looks at is people's hearts. If a person's heart is not right it does not matter what happens or what the condition is on the outside.
* Today we are in a spiritual battle. We fight against sin and evil powers that tempt and deceive. (Eph. 6:12) Our battle is for the kingdom of God. We fight a spiritual battle and need to be equipped for such. Yet behind and above and about the equipment is the Lord God Almighty, the Son, and the Spirit. (Eph. 6:10-18)
* Believers in Jesus should have fear and reverence and love for Jesus, who was and is and is to come.
* The gathering of Jesus' people should not be a pep mere rally but a heart convicted worship and praise in spirit and truth. Jesus taught, "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:23-24)
>4. What was the news that was brought to Eli?
* 1 Samuel 4:12-17 "That same day a Benjamite ran from the battle line and went to Shiloh, 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 were set 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."
* "his clothes torn and dust on his head" -An ancient sign of great remorse, lament, and regret.
* "feared for the ark of God" -He did not fear for his sons, he knew God judgment on them. He seems to be little different than the elders who treated the ark as a idol. Eli was responsible for the ark since he was the high priest. But more than that he was responsible to God and the spiritual welfare of Israel.
* "he could not see" -Eli didn't notice the Benjamite as he ran past him into the town. Why the Benjamite didn't first report to Eli shows Eli's lack of positive influence.
>What happened to him when he heard it?
* 1 Samuel 4:18 "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 heavy. He had led Israel forty years."
* "and he died" -Eli didn't honor God. The loss of the ark and Eli's death was no accident. When we don't honor God and our service to him bad news will come to us. We need to be sanctified in our service to him. We need to fear God for ourselves and for others. We need to take our walk with God, our life of faith seriously.
* "and heavy" -Eli was fat from eating all the fat and meat that he and his fellow priest were not suppose to eat.
* "he lead Israel forty years" -Eli here is included among the judges of Israel, though no modern commentary puts him in their lists because he was not used to save Israel from their enemies. (Judges 2:16-19) Eli's leadership overlapped some if not all of the judges Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon and Samson.
* The inherit problems of hereditary leadership is displayed in Eli and his sons. How can a succession of godly men be assured if a leader such as Eli is unable to provide sons who can be trusted?
>What happened to his daughter-in-law?
* 1 Samuel 4:19-20 "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."
* "near the time of delivery" -The birth was premature.
* "she was dying... she did not respond or pay any attention" -A woman who's heart is not right or weighed down at delivery may not contain the strength needed to service. A soul in anguish can snuff out its life-light.
* God Spirit gives us life and hope.
>Why did she name her son Ichabod?
* 1 Samuel 4:21-22 "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."
* "Ichabod" -Ichabod means "no glory". God proclaimed the truth to all. Even before Israel forfeited the ark they refused the glory of the Lord.
* "death of her father-in-law and husband" -When we do not honor God others are affected, those we love.
* "ark of God" -The Christians "ark" is our bodies. The Holy Spirit dwells in our bodies. We can not see the Spirit, but we can see and feel his presence. His work is like the wind, as Jesus taught. (John 3) We can be moved by him when we seek him in reverence and fear. Jesus will even visit those he loves and has chosen as he did Paul.
* Israel's glory was not the ark, but the presence of the Lord. Jeremiah 3:16-17 reveals this truth when it speaks of the Millennium reign of Christ Jesus. "In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land," declares the Lord, "men will no longer say, 'The ark of the covenant of the Lord.' It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts."
II. The Lord is Against Ashdod and Ekron (5:1-12)
>5. Where did the captured ark end up? (1-2)
* 1 Samuel 5:1-2 "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."
* "Ashdod" -Ashdod, one of the five principle Philistine cities was about thirty-five miles (50km) west of Jerusalem, very near the Mediterranean Sea.
* "Dagon's temple" -Dagon, in Canaanite mythology was the son (or brother) of El and the father of Baal. Dagon was the Philistines principle god, with temples in Ashdod, Gaza (Judge 16:21, 23, 26) and Beth Shan (31:10-12; 1 Chron. 10:10). Dagon worship was widespread and dated to third millennium B.C. to around 200 B.C. His name in Hebrew is related to "grain". Samson last his life at this temple. (Judges 16:23-30) The god of Ekron and Ashraroth were associated with Dagon.
* "they carried the ark" -They were not priests and yet God allowed it to prove something.
>Why would they put it there?
* Two reasons: first, because they recognized that the ark had something to do with a god, and second to prove that Dagon had power over the God of Israel.
>What does this show about the Philistines understanding of the Lord God?
* As they stated, the God of Israel had victory over Egypt's gods and people.
* They recognized that they should pay this God some respect.
* They also believed that because they won the battle, their god Dagon had power over Israel's God.
* Only a few years earlier Samson had done great damage to Dagon's temple in the name of the God of Israel. Now they were displaying that Samson was wrong.
* All mankind has an inner recognition of God, though they often do not acknowledge it within or without.
>6. What happened twice to their idol, Dragon? (3-5)
* 1 Samuel 5:3-5 "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."
* "fallen on his face on the ground" -prostrate and unable to raise himself up. How stupid does man get when he rejects the true God.
* "his head and hands had broken off" -Thus proving the idol and the god behind him was without life.
* "step on the threshold" -Ritual with pagan worship make it seem powerful and significant. In reality it is nothing compared to a personal and active relationship with Jesus and his Father through the Spirit.
>Why did this happen?
* God wanted to show his holiness in spite of how the Israelites and Philistines regarded him. God wanted to show that he is a live and true God, more than an idol and the ark of the covenant.
* God presence should not be with any idols, including in our hearts.
* God was showing his judgement on false religion and worship.
* The god of other nations are under ridicule before the one and only true God.
>Why did they get tumors? (6)
* 1 Samuel 5:6 "The Lord's hand was heavy upon the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation upon them and afflicted them with tumors."
* "The Lord's hand was heavy" -A humanist would say that the tumors came because of the rats. In reality, the tumors came by the hand of God.
* God's presence will either be a blessing or a curse depending on how we respond to him.
>How did the Philistines react?
* 1 Samuel 5:7-8 "When the men 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 upon us and upon 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."
* They respected the Lord Almighty, but they did not yield to him. They did not take him as their God. They did not get rid of their idols.
* A person or nation can receive the Lord God, or send him away. Sending God away will only delay the eternal pain and tragedy that it brings.
* "Gath" -Gath is one of the five principle cities of the Philistines.
* "moved to Gath" -Each of the five Philistine cities had independent leaders. Gath's leadership seemed to believe that Ashdod's populace were exaggerating and/or wrong about the ark of the covenant. Gathites wanted to put their theory to the test.
>What was the God of Israel to the Ekronites? (9-12)
* 1 Samuel 5:9-12 "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 upon it. Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven."
* "to kill us and our people" -They recognized the power of the Lord, they like the Israelites they attribute it to the ark, and not God himself.
* "tumors" -The third display of the power of the Lord.
* "Ekron" -The northern most of the five principle cities of the Philistines eleven miles (17km) north of Ashdod and close to Israel territory.
>Who is he to you?
* How can one describe a personal relationship with God. For mine, please read the manuscript The Believer's Future - Hope that Inspires.
III. The Ark Goes Back to Israel (6:1-7:1)
>7. Why shows the Philistines change of heart? (1-2)
* 1 Samuel 6:1-2 "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."
* "seven months" -Seven is the number of completion in the Bible.
* "called for the priests and the diviners" -The elders of Israel did not see Israel's prophet, Samuel, though they did Eli. Eli did not seek God's advice when Israel sent the ark to the battle.
* "What should we do with the ark of the Lord?" -the Philistines had new reverence for the Lord.
>What were they told was needed? (3)
* 1 Samuel 6:3 "They answered, "If you return the ark of the god of Israel, do not send it away empty, but 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."
* Twenty-five years of engineering experience, the last ten years as an application engineer I know that there are two types of diagnoses. One is symptom, the other is root-cause. Symptom diagnosis never solves the problem, and may even cause other problems. Symptom diagnosis is common amongst amateurs and/or the inexperienced. Root-cause problem can lead to a permanent and correct solution. The Philistines diagnosis is symptom. The root-cause was their sin and lack of acceptance of the true God and honoring him as such. If they would have accepted the truth, they would have repented and ask for the Lord's forgiveness. You might say that I'm being ridiculous suggesting a non-Israelite would accept the God of Israel. Before you do that study the book of Esther and Jonah, then the book of Acts.
>Why did they sent the gold tumors and gold rats? (4-6, 17-18)
* 1 Samuel 6:4-6 "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 pay honor 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 he treated them harshly, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way?"
* 1 Samuel 6:17-18 "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 they set the ark of the Lord, is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh."
* "guilt offering" -They realized they were guilty. But for what? Most likely for taking the ark of the Lord, the footstool of the God of Israel and not "pay honor to Israel's God". (5) Unfortunately, as it is with most to this very day, the Philistines did not go to the next step; asking for forgiveness, acceptance, and seeking his will and favor. Knowing one is guilty and dealing with it in one's own way is not the same as asking for true forgiveness, acceptance, and seeking his will and obeying it. These will lead to a fulfilling love relationship with the one true God.
* "both you and your rulers" -Like Pharaoh, the Philistines rulers were not exempt. All are equal in God's eyes when it comes to the need and obligation to honor him.
* "that are destroying the country" -It seems that the false priests and diviners acknowledged the hand of the true God controlling the rates and causing tumors. They did say, "he will lift his hands from you."
>What did they learn about God?
* God reveals himself to all nations. Egypt and the Philistines knew of the Lord and rejected him for dumb idols so that they could do what they wanted. They wanted a God that they could control rather then humbling themselves and acting that God's guidance is best because he loves us and has a great plan.
* Romans 1:21-25 "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen."
* God, without the help of any man done more to reveal himself to the Philistines than any Israelite had done before.
* The Philistines rejection of the true God at this time lead to their judgement and eventual ruin.
* "did they not send... so they could go on their way" -The sad story of fallen man is that he wants God and God's people out of his life so he can do whatever he wants. Sinful man does not understand that everything good comes from God. Removing God for one's life is removal of everything that is good. The story on judgement day, the Great White throne of Jesus, is that because people wanted to be removed from God, they will be removed permanently, having no good at all, only terrible terrible lonely bad.
>8. Why did they use two cows with calves? (7-9)
* 1 Samuel 6:7-9 "Now then, get a new cart ready, with two cows that have calves 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 and that it happened to us by chance."
* "two cows" -Two reasons exist why this shouldn't have worked. First, the two cows would not be trained to pull carts alone and especially as a team and in a straight line. Trained bulls are used for pulling carts. Second, they would naturally want to return to their calves who would call for them and their homes (cows are creatures of habit). If they didn't return and pulled the cart straight down the road to Israel then the Philistines would know that it was indeed the God of Israel who gave them this plague and the falling of Dagon prostrate before the ark was not a coincidence.
* "yoked" -The use of a carved wood beam and ropes to hitch two trained bulls or oxen together to pull a cart or plow.
* "pen them up" -My grandfather was a dairy farmer. Often he would have calves separated from their mothers and penned up so that they could be taken away to someone who raised bulls. The calf would cry out loudly all day and night. They cry could be heard for up to one mile (0.5km).
* "Beth Shemesh" -Beth-Shemesh means "house of the sun".” Beth-Shemesh is applied to four different cities in the Old Testament. This one belonged to Judah. (Jos. 15:10) The name probably derives from a place where the Semitic god Shemesh (Shamash) was worshiped. Beth-Shemesh was apparently controlled by Israel at this time (ca. 1050 B.C.) when the ark of the covenant passed through the city upon returning from the Philistines. (Holman Bible Dictionary)
* The Bible speaks of two ways to test the Lord; one good, one bad. The good way is to obey his word and leading seeking him with all the heart, mind, soul, and strength, and then see him keep his promises of blessing. The other is to not obey his word and leading to see his judgement and curses.
>What happened proving the nature of the God of Israel? (10-12)
* 1 Samuel 6:10-12 "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."
* "the cows went straight up toward Beth-Shemesh" -They went straight to the Israelite land.
* "lowing all the way" -The cows cried out to their calves. They desired to God back, but they obeyed the leading of the Lord.
* "they did not turn to the right or to the left" -Untrained animals yoked together would turn one direction or another.
>Who saw this? (16)
* 1 Samuel 6:16 "The five rulers of the Philistines saw all this and then returned that same day to Ekron."
* The Philistine rulers saw something they would never see again. They had clear testimony that the Lord is God of cows, rats, humans health, and greater than their god, Dagon. Did they worship him in repentance and fear? No. People say that there are no miracles today. There are. People just refuse to acknowledge them? Why are people like this? John 3:19-21 states, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
>What can we learn?
* Throughout history many of God's people stumble and fail in their walk of faith, but God's never stumbles. He reveals himself in all and every situation. God uses everything, even our failures and stubborn rejection, for his glory and honor.
* People can be given clear proof of God existence and yet reject him for lesser things.
* Ever since Adam and Eve mankind has had the wrong idea and concept of God; they don't know and/or accept his love and glory.
* If anyone comes to a relationship with God it is solely God's divine intervention.
>9. When the ark was seen how did Israel react? (13-15)
* 1 Samuel 6:13-15 "Now the people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley, and when they looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the sight. The cart came to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and there it stopped beside a large rock. The people chopped up the wood of the cart and sacrificed the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. The Levites took down the ark of the Lord, together with the chest containing the gold objects, and placed them on the large rock. On that day the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices to the Lord."
* "harvesting their wheat" -The wheat harvest was during the Hebrew calendar's sixth month, our May to mid-June. Since the ark was in Philistine hands for seven months, it would not have been present for the spring feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, the First Fruit Sheaf Wave, and Pentecost. The first three spring feasts are during the Hebrew calendar's first month.
* "they rejoiced" -The first response was correct.
* Beth-Shemesh was one of the towns the Levites were to live in. (Jos. 21:13-16) This too testifies to the hand of God.
>What happened to the Israelites who did not respect the ark of the Lord? (19)
* 1 Samuel 6:19 "But God struck down some of the men of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they had looked into the ark of the Lord. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the Lord had dealt them,"
* "But the Kohathites must not go in to look at the holy things, even for a moment, or they will die.'" (Numbers 4:20)
* "into the ark of the Lord" -Inside the ark was the commandments on two stones, manna, and Aaron's staff.
* "they had looked into" -They looked out of lack of respect and ignorance. When the ark was taken they still did not study the Bible.
* "God struck down some of the men" -God's judgement fell on them. (2 Sam. 6:7; Num. 4:17-20)
* God was teaching the Israelites they they should respect him because they did not do this during the battle.
>What was done with the ark after this? (6:21-7:1)
* 1 Samuel 6:21-7:1 "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 place. So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord. They took it to Abinadab's house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the Lord."
* "Kiriath Jearim" -Kiriath Jearim means "city of forests".” Kiriath-Jearim was located at modern Abu Gosh nine miles north of Jerusalem. It was on the border where Dan (before they moved north), Benjamin, and Judah joined before Dan began their migration northward (Josh. 15:9,60; 18:14-15). (Holman Bible Dictionary)
* "Abinadab's house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the Lord" -Perhaps Eleazar was there to guard people from coming and touching the ark more than from it being stolen for the later would require more guards. Also, after the deal with the Philistines and the Israelites who died, no one would want to steal it. The ark was not taken to Shiloh where it was at before the Philistines took it because Shiloh and the temple there was burned down by the Philistines when they took the ark. At this point the tabernacle that Moses saw built might have been set back up and the ark placed in it as it had been during the days of Moses. The ark and perhaps the tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) stayed in this location until David attempted to move it to Jerusalem "from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill" around forty years later. (2 Sam. 6:1-8) Note: 21:1-9 seems to indicate that perhaps the Tent of Meeting was in Nob.
* 1 Samuel 6:20 "and the men 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?"
* "Who can stand in the presence of the Lord" -The Israelites were similar to the Philistines in their reaction to God's judgement.
* "this holy God" -Meaning God demands such respect and honor.
* "whom will the ark go up form here" -The men of Beth Shemesh, who included Levites and should have known better, wanted to get rid of their God. The word of God was apparently not taught and sought. They were not willing to seek God and his will.
* A person must not be afraid or to proud to approach God on God's terms. John 3:16-18 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."
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