1 Samuel 4-6: “The Philistines Capture The Ark Of The Covenant & Experience Calamity”
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:
22.214.171.124. 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.
126.96.36.199.1. 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.
188.8.131.52. We saw that at the outset in our story how that the nation of
184.108.40.206. 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.
220.127.116.11. 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.
In our study today, we are going to look at chapters 4-6. We will see in this study how that
1.2.1. We will see that
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
1.2.3. Well, we will see the
judgment exacted that we saw prophesied against Ely, the high priest in
1.2.4. The Philistines who had
1.2.5. A plague of big tumors or
hemorrhoids also breaks out among the Philistines after the
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
1.2.9. Finally, the
2. VS 4:1-5 - “1 Thus the word of
Samuel came to all
The Philistines we have seen in previous studies were a sea people who
fled their land to come and to occupy the
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.
2.4.1. 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.
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
We see here that the men who bring the Ark of the Covenant into the
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.
18.104.22.168. 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
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
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
This time 30,000 men of
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.
Notice here that Ely was a judge of
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.
This was a dire time for never before in
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
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).
Ezekiel panicked when He saw prophetically into the future the glory of
the Lord leaving the temple and the city of
5.3.1. In the
6. VS 5:1-7 - “1 Now the Philistines
took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to
Here we see that after the Philistines had victory over
The Philistines plan of taking the Ark of the Covenant as their spoils
of war backfires however. The very next
morning after the
6.3.1. It is a sad thing when a
person’s god cannot defend himself. The
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
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.
When the plague has broken out upon the men of the city of
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
The plague of tumors or hemorrhoids breaks out in the city of
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
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.
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
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
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
The Lord directs these nursing cows pulling the cart with the
The Levites of the city of
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.
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
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.
11.1. 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.