1 Samuel Chapter 5

In the previous chapter, the Philistines and the Israelites were engaged in battle. The Israelites were loosing and decided to bring the ark of the covenant out of Shiloh to help them win the battle. This was apparently not according to the wisdom of the Lord, and the Israelites were defeated. Along with the loss of many lives, the Israelites lost the ark, which was stolen by the Philistine army. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Eben-ezer unto Ashdod.
2 When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.

The Philistines brought the ark into the house of their god, Dagon, which was in Ashdod.

3 And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.
4 And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.
5 Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.
6 But the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.
7 And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.
8 They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thither.
9 And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the Lord was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.

The image of the Dagon, had fallen down during the first night with the ark near it. The Philistines raised Dagon up again. The next night, the image fell again, but this time the head and hands were cut off of the statue. The Philistine priests decided they would not go passed the threshold in the house of Dagon. Ashdod, through to its borders, was plagued with emerods, or boils. This was a curse from the Lord. The Philistines recognized that the Israelite god was cursing them and their god, and so they decided that the ark would not remain with them. The leaders of the Philistines decided to move the ark to Gath. The Lord cursed the city of Gath, and all the people fell under the plague of emerods and were destroyed.

10 Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people.
11 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
12 And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

They moved the ark again, to Ekron. The Ekronites feared because they knew what had happened in the places where the ark had been. The leaders of the Philistines were gathered together, and they decided they would send the ark away from them, because the city was again destroyed and the people were plagued with emerods.

The hand of the Lord is powerful unto the destruction of any people of the land. This is shown many times throughout the scriptures. We learn from this, that no one who stands in opposition to the Lord, can withstand his wrath. The ark of the covenant was sacred and the Philistines dared to place it beside a false idol. The Lord made it clear that He would not stand for this sacrilegious act on their part, and proved that by destroying all who were in the cities where the ark was placed. Things that are sacred, should not be treated lightly. If we knowingly disrespect those things that are sacred in our own lives, we might not experience plagues of boils, and we might not even receive consequences in this life, but their will come consequences at the time when we meet our maker and are judged for the works we did in this life.

Further still, this story is a witness of the living God of Israel. Their idol to Dagon, had no power to stop the power of the Lord from destroying it. The false idols the Philistines worshipped throughout their land, had no power against the plagues and destruction that came upon the people. The God of Israel, is the only true and living God on the face of the earth. He created all things on the earth. He created man. He gave us the gift of agency. He blesses the lives of those who are faithful and righteous and he withholds his blessings from those who choose wickedness. All people will one day come to know that He is the only living God, and in that day we all will be judged and receive our eternal rewards from Him.

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