1 Samuel 4-6:   “The Philistines Capture The Ark Of The Covenant & Experience Calamity

By

Jim Bomkamp

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1.1.                     INTRO:

 

1.1.1.  In our last study, we looked at the first three chapters of 1 Samuel and the calling of the man Samuel by the Lord to be a judge, priest, and prophet:

 

1.1.1.1.      We saw that through the misfortune of a woman who is barren and her fervent prayers that the Lord intervened in the history of the nation of Israel to send to it one of the Lord’s most remarkable and faithful servants, Samuel.

 

1.1.1.1.1.           Hannah, a woman who was barren cried out to the Lord fervently in prayer and the Lord performed a miracle in allowing her to become pregnant, and, in answering this prayer the Lord also raised up a man who was totally dedicated to Him.

 

1.1.1.2.      We saw that at the outset in our story how that the nation of Israel was in one of its darkest periods of spiritual apostasy when the baby Samuel was born.  Even the priesthood in Israel was corrupt as Eli (ay-lee), the high priest, allowed his sons to minister to the Lord even though he knew that they were doing great harm in Israel by their sin and not honoring the Lord.

 

1.1.1.3.      We saw that the boy Samuel was dedicated to the Lord as a young child and grew up working with the high priest and his corrupt sons in the tabernacle.  However, in spite of all that the boy saw and experienced in the corrupt life of the priesthood, he never the less remained obedient and faithful to the Lord.

 

1.1.1.4.      We saw finally that the Lord called Samuel and brought Samuel to know Him personally.  The Lord then spoke to Samuel a prophetic word of impending judgment upon the house of Eli the high priest, and young Samuel was faithful to deliver that word, not giving in to his fears.

 

1.2.                     In our study today, we are going to look at chapters 4-6.  We will see in this study how that Israel during its dark period at the end of the era of the judges began to be troubled and attacked by the Philistines who wanted to wrest control of the land of Canaan from Israel.  We will see the price that rebellion against the Lord exacts against Israel and also how that having turned away from knowing and following the Lord that the Israelites become very superstitious.

 

1.2.1.  We will see that Israel goes to battle against the Philistines and initially is soundly beaten in a battle against them.  Then, Israel decides that they will take the Ark of the Covenant with them into the next battle with the Philistines.  They are thinking that the Ark will be to them like a lucky charm and guarantee their success.  However, the Lord did not go with Israel into the battle, and thus they are soundly defeated and the Philistines capture the Ark and take it back to one of their cities to place it proudly on display in one of their shrines to their god Dagon.

 

1.2.2.  The Ark of the Covenant was the center piece of the Jewish tabernacle, and later the Jewish temple.  It was a box that had a drawer in which were kept the two stone tablets that the Lord had written the Ten Commandments upon.  It also included a jar with some of the manner which fell upon the Israelites from the Lord all during their wilderness wanderings of the book of Joshua.  On the top of the Ark was the mercy seat which had two golden angels with their wings spread out.  Upon this mercy seat sacrificial blood for the nation was to be poured by the high priest once a year on the Day of Atonement.  The very presence of the Lord Himself was to be upon the Ark of the Covenant, for there was His throne (2 Sam. 6:2; Ps. 80:1; 99:1) that is where He chose to dwell in Israel.

 

1.2.3.  Well, we will see the judgment exacted that we saw prophesied against Ely, the high priest in Israel, and his two sons, as all three men are killed in one day.  In rebellion against the Lord, Ely had allowed his sons to minister in the tabernacle even though he knew that they were committing horrible sins and causing all of Israel to stumble.

 

1.2.4.  The Philistines who had captured the Ark end up during the evening having their god Dagon tipped over by the Lord and made to fall prostrate before the Ark.  This happened on two successive evenings.  The second evening both the head and the hands of Dagon were found in the morning to have been cut off, with only Dagon’s trunk intact.

 

1.2.5.  A plague of big tumors or hemorrhoids also breaks out among the Philistines after the Ark arrives in their city.  Thus, the Philistines send the Ark to a second Philistine city, and a similar plague breaks out.  Then, when the Philistines try to send the Ark to a third Philistine city, the residents of the city refuse to allow it to come for fear a similar plague will break out among them.

 

1.2.6.  The wise men of the Philistines are finally consulted about what to do about the Ark and they recommend to the Philistine lords that they try to send the Ark back to Israel, and, then they come up with a test to see if indeed it is the Lord who is causing these calamities among them wherever the Ark resides.  The test is that the Philistines place the Ark on a cart with two milk cows pulling it, and if the cows choose to take the Ark into the territory of Israel, leaving their nursing calves behind, then it is indeed the Lord who has been causing these things to occur.

 

1.2.7.  The Lord reveals through the calamities He brought upon the Philistines that He can defend Himself and doesn’t need anyone’s help.

 

1.2.8.  Finally, the Ark ends up in Israel, however the Israelites do not honor and reverence the law of the Lord and cover up the Ark as they should.  Instead, out of curiosity they look inside of the Ark.  This then causes the people in this city to die of the plague themselves. 

 

1.2.9.  Finally, the Ark is brought to rest in a man’s house in Kiriath Jearim where it is guarded and remains for up to possibly 100 years when King David retrieves it after he has conquered the city of Jerusalem.

 

2.     VS 4:1-5  - 1 Thus the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistines camped in Aphek. 2 The Philistines drew up in battle array to meet Israel. When the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines who killed about four thousand men on the battlefield. 3 When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the Lord, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies.” 4 So the people sent to Shiloh, and from there they carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts who sits above the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 5 As the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth resounded. -  Israel goes to battle against the Philistines and loses 4,000 men, then they decide to ensure victory in the next battle by going and getting the Ark of the Covenant and taking it into battle with them

 

2.1.                     The Philistines we have seen in previous studies were a sea people who fled their land to come and to occupy the land of Canaan.  They are mentioned in the Old Testament as being in existence even during the time of Abraham (see Gen. 21:32; 10:14).  Ever since Israel had under Joshua conquered the land of Canaan the Philistines had desired to conquer them and displace them from the land.

 

2.2.                     The Israelites went out to battle against the Philistines and 4,000 of their people were killed.  The Israelite people blamed the Lord for their defeat and they didn’t understand why He would have wanted them to be defeated. 

 

2.3.                     The Israelites didn’t understand or appreciate that the Lord had always been faithful to His part of their covenant, however it was they who had refused to fulfill their obligations to the Lord.  Because they had violated their part of the covenant with the Lord they had been promised by the Lord as part of that covenant that they would be conquered by their enemies.

 

2.4.                     The Ark was the place where the Lord was to dwell in Israel, and the Israelites in a sense thought that they had God in a box and that if they brought the Ark into their battles that the Lord would go with them.  However, just having the Ark didn’t mean that the Lord would be with them.

 

2.4.1.  Many so-called Christians think that they can have God in a box.  They think that they can go and live their life however they want to live it, walking outside of the guidelines of scriptures for their lives, yet if they just pray that God will act like a Genie in a bottle and grant their wishes.  Or, they think that if they just wear a cross, just make the sign of the cross, just recite the Lord’s prayer, just get baptized, just join a church, etc., that they are going to have the Lord’s favor.  However, a person will never have the Lord’s favor unless he comes to the place in his life of surrender to the Lord, of repentance of sin in his life, and then trust in the promises of God’s word and in Jesus’ substitutionary death upon the cross of Calvary to pay his debt of sins.  The scriptures clearly teach us that this alone will bring salvation and God’s favor. 

 

2.5.                     The Israelites thought about how that under Joshua the armies of the Lord always brought the Ark of the Covenant with them into battle, and that they were always successful during those campaigns.  Thus, they thought that if they just brought the Ark into their battles that surely they also would be victorious. 

 

2.6.                     We see here that the men who bring the Ark of the Covenant into the camp of Israel are none other than Phineas and Hophni, the reprobate and worthless sons of the high priest, Ely.  These men themselves by their very presence when the Ark was brought into the camp of Israel, defile the Ark and greatly offend the Lord.

 

2.6.1.  We Christians need to recognize that ministry by the church must only be performed by those whose hands are not stained by sin.  God cannot sanction any ministry in the church by people unless the blood of Christ has cleansed them and washed away all of their sins. 

 

2.6.1.1.      Psalm 24:3-4 tells us about this, “3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully.

 

2.7.                     Whenever God’s people fall away from Him they no longer walk in faith and obedience to the Lord, and they tend to become superstitious.  They begin to think that it is the external rites and accoutrements of religion that are important and bring blessing, and they rely upon these things rather than upon the Lord Himself and His presence and resources for them.  This is exactly what the Israelites do here in bringing the Ark of the Covenant into their camp.

 

2.8.                     When the people of Israel go and get the Ark and bring it into their camp, they are pumped up with emotion and begin to make a great shout as they see it coming and begin to remember that once the Ark followed Joshua and his armies into battle after battle in which the Lord conquered their enemies.  However, emotional rallies and getting pumped up with emotion can never be able to substitute for simply having the Lord Himself in your camp.

 

2.8.1.  The Israelites didn’t discern that having the Ark in their camp did not mean that they had the Lord with them or on their side.

 

3.     VS 4:6-9  - 6 When the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, “What does the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” Then they understood that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp. 7 The Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. 8 “Woe to us! Who shall deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who smote the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. 9 “Take courage and be men, O Philistines, or you will become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you; therefore, be men and fight.” -  When they heard the shouting of the Israelites upon bringing the Ark into their camp, the Philistines vow to fight in a much more focused and determined way

 

3.1.                     Instead of jumping and shouting when the Ark of the Covenant came into the Israelite’s camp, the Israelites should instead have rent their hearts before the Lord and repented of their rebellion and going their own way apart from the Lord. 

 

3.2.                     The shouting of the Israelites backfires for them as it only causes the Philistines to be just more determined to go and to fight that much harder and more courageously against them.

 

4.     VS 4:10-18  - 10 So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent; and the slaughter was very great, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died. 12 Now a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes torn and dust on his head. 13 When he came, behold, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road eagerly watching, because his heart was trembling for the ark of God. So the man came to tell it in the city, and all the city cried out. 14 When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, “What does the noise of this commotion mean?” Then the man came hurriedly and told Eli. 15 Now Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were set so that he could not see. 16 The man said to Eli, “I am the one who came from the battle line. Indeed, I escaped from the battle line today.” And he said, “How did things go, my son?” 17 Then the one who brought the news replied, “Israel has fled before the Philistines and there has also been a great slaughter among the people, and your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been taken.” 18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell off the seat backward beside the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for he was old and heavy. Thus he judged Israel forty years. -  The Philistines defeat Israel, capture the Ark, and Ely’s two sons are killed in battle, and, upon hearing the news Ely himself dies as he falls backward in his chair and breaks his neck

 

4.1.                     This time 30,000 men of Israel were felled in battle by the Philistines.  This was a huge loss for the nation of Israel.  Having the Ark of the Covenant among them did not help the Israelites have victory in this battle.

 

4.2.                     Prophecy was fulfilled in these verses also.  We saw in the previous three chapters of 1 Samuel that the Lord had spoken a prophetic word to Ely through an anonymous man of God, as well as young Samuel.  That prophetic word involved both of Ely’s sons dying in one day as well as the priestly line that came from Aaron through the family of Ely being cut off.

 

4.3.                     Notice here that Ely was a judge of Israel and that he served 40 years.

 

4.4.                     Ely does have a great concern for the Ark of the Covenants, for it is not when he hears that his sons have died that he falls off of his chair, but rather when he hears that the Ark has fallen into the hands of the enemy.

 

4.5.                     Ely most likely had a heart attack or stroke that caused him to fall backwards.

 

4.6.                     This was a dire time for never before in Israel’s history had the Ark of the Covenant fallen into the hands of their enemies.  The Akr was a huge symbol to Israel of their covenant relationship to God, but much more it was also the very place where Yahweh dwelt.  They had lost their God also.

 

5.     VS 4:19-22  - 19 Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’s wife, was pregnant and about to give birth; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was taken and that her father-in-law and her husband had died, she kneeled down and gave birth, for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have given birth to a son.” But she did not answer or pay attention. 21 And she called the boy Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel,” because the ark of God was taken and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken.” -  The daughter-in-law of Ely hears news of the death of her husband and father-in-law and goes immediately into labor and dies in childbirth

 

5.1.                     This daughter-in-law of Ely evidently was concerned that the Lord’s glory would be among His people, for having His glory with them would ensure having His favor.  Thus, the last thing this woman does before dying in childbirth is to name her son “Ichabod,” which means “the glory has departed.”

 

5.2.                     The glory of the Lord was always used by Him as a sign to the Israelites that they were His people and that He was in their midst (Ex. 40:34).

 

5.3.                     Ezekiel panicked when He saw prophetically into the future the glory of the Lord leaving the temple and the city of Jerusalem (Ezek. 8:4; 9:3; 10:4, 18; 11:22-23).

 

5.3.1.  In the Millennial Kingdom, Ezekiel saw prophetically the glory return to Israel however (Ezek. 43:1-5).

 

6.     VS 5:1-7  - 1 Now the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it to the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon. 3 When the Ashdodites arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and set him in his place again. 4 But when they arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on 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 on the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. 5 Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor all who enter Dagon’s house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day. 6 Now the hand of the Lord was heavy on the Ashdodites, and He ravaged them and smote them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territories. 7 When the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is severe on us and on Dagon our god.” -  The Ark is taken by the Philistines to the city of Ashdod and placed in the house of Dagon, their god, but calamity breaks out

 

6.1.                     Here we see that after the Philistines had victory over Israel in battle that they took Israel’s Ark of the Covenant as one of their spoils of war.  They determined to place the Ark inside the house of Dagon, their god, in order to demonstrate the fact that their god was superior to the God of Israel since he had had caused them to defeat the Israelites and capture their Ark.

 

6.2.                     J. Vernon McGee makes the point that with all of the calamity that happened to the Philistines because of the Ark of the Covenant coming among them, that the Lord was revealing that He has a great sense of humor.

 

6.3.                     The Philistines plan of taking the Ark of the Covenant as their spoils of war backfires however.  The very next morning after the Ark is taken into the house of Dagon and placed beside of Dagon, Dagon is found lying prostrate before the Ark.  Then, after they pick back up Dagon and set him in place in his house, the very next morning Dagon is again found lying prostrate before the Ark however his hands and head had been cut off.

 

6.3.1.  It is a sad thing when a person’s god cannot defend himself.  The prophets in Israel made fun of the pagan nations and people of their time because they had to try to protect their gods.

 

6.3.2.  There have been times when I have known Christians (and I have done this myself also) who have felt that they always had to defend the Lord.  If any non-believer said anything negative about the Lord or the Christian faith, these people have felt it was their obligation to immediately go on the defensive.  Well, we don’t have to defend the Lord in reality, for He can defend Himself.  We may be led to challenge non-believers at times as we seek to share the gospel with them, but we need to just allow the Lord to lead us in these times as to what we should say, and not out of compulsion think we have to always defend the Lord.

 

6.4.                     However, not only do these things happen to Dagon when the Ark is taken to Ashdod, but also a plague breaks out upon the people of the city and hemorrhoids or tumors break out on the people.

 

6.5.                     The people of Ashdod come together and insist that the Ark be taken away from their midst since the God of Israel had caused all of these misfortunes to happen to their god Dagon and also to their health, since the Ark had been with them.

 

7.     VS 5:8-12  - 8 So they sent and gathered all the lords of the Philistines to them and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” And they said, “Let the ark of the God of Israel be brought around to Gath.” And they brought the ark of the God of Israel around. 9 After they had brought it around, the hand of the Lord was against the city with very great confusion; and He smote the men of the city, both young and old, so that tumors broke out on them. 10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And as the ark of God came to Ekron the Ekronites cried out, saying, “They have brought the ark of the God of Israel around to us, to kill us and our people.” 11 They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, so that it will not kill us and our people.” For there was a deadly confusion throughout the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. 12 And the men who did not die were smitten with tumors and the cry of the city went up to heaven. -  The Philistines bring the Ark of the Covenant to the Philistine city of Gath, however a plague of the tumors or hemorrhoids breaks out on the people there also

 

7.1.                      The Ark of the Covenant becomes sort of like a hot potato to the Philistines.  Everyone who receives it is burned by it and tries to quickly get rid of it and throw it to someone else. 

 

7.2.                     When the plague has broken out upon the men of the city of Gath, they quickly send it to the city of Ekron.

 

7.3.                     When the Ark arrives in the city of Ekron, we see that the people had heard about all of the calamity that had come about in the previous two cities who had kept the Ark, and they cry out that the Ark has been sent to them to kill them.  Then, the people of the city of Ekron insist that the lords of Philistines (the lords over each of the five cities) return the Ark to its own place in Israel before it ends up killing all of the Philistines.

 

7.4.                     The plague of tumors or hemorrhoids breaks out in the city of Ekron as well, and we see that there was ‘deadly confusion throughout the city.’  In fact, the suffering was so great in Ekron that we read that their cry even ‘went up to heaven.’  The Lord in His compassion heard the prayers for mercy from the people of Ekron and keeps the entire city from being killed by the plague.

 

8.     VS 6:1-9  - 1 Now the ark of the Lord had been in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we shall send it to its place.” 3 They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but you shall surely return to Him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed from you.” 4 Then they said, “What shall be the guilt offering which we shall return to Him?” And they said, “Five golden tumors and five golden mice according to the number of the lords of the Philistines, for one plague was on all of you and on your lords. 5 “So you shall make likenesses of your tumors and likenesses of your mice that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will ease His hand from you, your gods, and your land. 6 “Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He had severely dealt with them, did they not allow the people to go, and they departed? 7 “Now therefore, take and prepare a new cart and two milch cows on which there has never been a yoke; and hitch the cows to the cart and take their calves home, away from them. 8 “Take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you return to Him as a guilt offering in a box by its side. Then send it away that it may go. 9 “Watch, if it goes up by the way of its own territory to Beth-shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we will know that it was not His hand that struck us; it happened to us by chance.” -  The Philistines finally call for their priests and diviners (wise men) and ask them what they think should be done with the Ark of the Covenants and whether or not it should be sent back to Israel

 

8.1.                     In verse 7 we see that the wise men of the Philistines are thinking rationally.  They tell the lords of the Philistines that it would do them no good to harden their hearts against the Lord and refuse to go along with the Lord’s desire concerning the Ark of the Covenant.  They mention also that after all the Egyptians during Moses’ time eventually had to wake up and realize that it was wise to allow the Israelites go free from their land.

 

8.2.                     The wise men of the Philistines decide upon a test that will determine whether or not it truly has been the Lord who has caused the calamity that has occurred amongst the Philistines since they captured the Ark of the Covenants.  They determine that they will get a cart and place the Ark on it and harness two nursing cows to the cart.  Then, if the cows go against their natural instincts and leave their nursing calves behind and head towards the land of Israel, then all will know that the calamity did occur from the hand of the Lord and not by coincidence.

 

8.3.                     The wise men also determine that if in fact it is the Lord who has caused these calamities to occur ever since the Ark has been brought into their territory, then they ought to have something in the cart as an offering to the Lord if the cows do return the cart to the Israelites.  The Philistines determine to make 5 golden hemorrhoids and 5 golden mice for their offering and place them in the cart.  This offering would consist of one golden tumor and golden mouse for each of the 5 cities of the Philistines. 

 

8.3.1.  If the cart did not go up to Israel then the Philistines knew that they could recoup their losses by taking back their golden hemorrhoids and mice.

 

8.4.                     I wonder what a golden hemorrhoid looks like?  It makes the imagination wonder.  Somehow I don’t think this is something that you want to get your wife for her birthday!

 

9.     VS 6:10-18  - 10 Then the men did so, and took two milch cows and hitched them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. 11 They put the ark of the Lord on the cart, and the box with the golden mice and the likenesses of their tumors. 12 And the cows took the straight way in the direction of Beth-shemesh; they went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right or to the left. And the lords of the Philistines followed them to the border of Beth-shemesh. 13 Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley, and they raised their eyes and saw the ark and were glad to see it. 14 The cart came into the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite and stood there where there was a large stone; and they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15 The Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the box that was with it, in which were the articles of gold, and put them on the large stone; and the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices that day to the Lord. 16 When the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned to Ekron that day. 17 These are the golden tumors which the Philistines returned for a guilt offering to the Lord: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron; 18 and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fortified cities and of country villages. The large stone on which they set the ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite. -  The cows bring the Ark to the Israelite city of Beth-shemesh and the people rejoice upon seeing it return

 

9.1.                     The Lord directs these nursing cows pulling the cart with the Ark on it directly to the Israeli city of Beth-shemesh.  It was a very unnatural thing for these cows to leave behind their nursing calves to take this cart to this most improbable of places in Israel.  This event truly could not have come about as mere coincidence.

 

9.2.                     The Levites of the city of Beth-shemesh who received the Ark upon the cart immediately take the Ark out of the cart and offer the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord.  However, these Levites were not following the Law and they were not showing reverence for the Lord.  They should have immediately covered the Ark upon receiving it into their land since no one was to be allowed to see the Ark except the high priest, and even that was to occur only once a year when the high priest would make an offering for the nation. 

 

9.3.                     During all of the campaigns under Joshua when the Ark was taken into battle the Israelites had covered the Ark (Num. 4:5-6), however here the Levites look into the Ark and make a sacrifice, probably even pouring the blood of the sacrifice over the mercy seat on the top of the Ark.

 

10.            VS 6:19-21  - 19 He struck down some of the men of Beth-shemesh because they had looked into the ark of the Lord. He struck down of all the people, 50,070 men, and the people mourned because the Lord had struck the people with a great slaughter. 20 The men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom shall He go up from us?” 21 So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have brought back the ark of the Lord; come down and take it up to you.” -  Because the people of Beth-shemesh looked into the Ark and didn’t reverence the Lord as they should the Lord causes a huge number of the people to die of the plague

 

10.1.                There has been much debate about the size of the number of people slain in Beth-shemesh on this day.  Many have commented that due to the population of that area of the country at that time that the Jewish copyists must have miscopied the number and that it should have been 70 instead of 50,000.

 

11.            CONCLUSION:

 

11.1.                You must not think that you can in any way put God in a box.

 

11.2.                You must have clean hands and a pure heart washed by the blood of Jesus if you are to be able to minister for the Lord.

 

11.3.                Out of compulsion you do not always have to defend the Lord, for He is a God who can defend Himself.

 

11.4.                We need to learn from the unfortunate people of the city of Beth-shemesh who looked inside of the Ark of the importance of always showing proper reverence to the Lord, and also we must become students of God’s word so that we can as a result be people who are sure to keep His commandments and be in His will for our life.             

 

 

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