1 & 2 Samuel: Day 3

The Ark of the Covenant

by

Today's Text: 1 Samuel 5:1-12, 1 Samuel 6:1-21, Exodus 10:1-2, Leviticus 5:14-17

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 5:1-12, 1 Samuel 6:1-21, Exodus 10:1-2, Leviticus 5:14-17

I imagine the cassette tape is the kind of thing that will make my grandchildren’s eyes grow wide. They will giggle at these long gone, barely imaginable pieces of technology that have been replaced by something that is faster, smarter, and better. It will be to them what my own grandparents’ stories of their first radios and 45 records were to me.

I could tell them how my brother and I used to make recordings of our favorite songs when they came on the radio, one of us pressing play on our tape recorder at exactly the right moment while we sat there, silent and completely still, for the entirety of the song. Despite our best efforts, these recordings always seemed to consist of muffled versions of our favorite tunes, featuring the sounds of our breathing and restless fidgeting.

Our most beloved cassette tape not only included the theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark, but also the static of the television we recorded it from. We could never seem to get it right, but at the time, it was worth it for the chance to carry our favorite tunes with us, playing them over and over again.

I can’t read about the Philistines carrying the ark with them without getting that same theme song stuck in my head. Of course, I could now easily pull the song up online to hear the track clearly and without distraction, but I like my crackly, static version just fine.

If I’m honest, I’m still easily persuaded that I can break God and His glory down into “good enough” pieces of religious comfort—pieces I can carry with me. The Philistines seemed to think this, too. The problem is, we’re not the ones in charge of the carrying.

The ark, roughly four feet long, was gold-plated and carried on poles that hung through rings on its sides. It was holy, created to house the tablets of the Ten Commandments and serve as a representation of God’s covenant with His people. As we read these passages together, we can all agree that things get pretty weird, right? Dagon, Ashdod’s idol-god, falls onto the ark, and then the city is afflicted with tumors (1 Samuel 5:6). Somewhere along the way, the Philistines began to believe they could move the ark however they pleased, that all of God’s goodness could be contained in a four-foot-long box.

I wonder what kind of boxes we carry with us today. Maybe it’s containing God to a specific place or restricting His character to the confines of our own small experiences. Perhaps the problem is that we’re stuffing the box with selfish pride and hopeful gain but still calling it God’s will.

Regardless, our boxes are all our own cheap versions of the one true Father, muffled by our sin and covered in the static of our humanity. Let us not mistake them for the substance of the Spirit. If we choose to carry anything with us let it be the full arc of the gospel story. Even better, let’s remember that we are the ones who need to be carried.

That’s what Jesus does for us. He carries us into the very presence of our God, in all His holiness. When the question is asked, “Who is able to stand in the presence of the Lord this holy God?” (1 Samuel 6:20), we can trust that Jesus has made a way for us to do just that. He stood in our place and died the death we deserved so that we could approach our holy God with confidence (Ephesians 3:12).

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  • Kristen Clegs

    The Israelite’s view of God had shifted: instead of approaching Him as a person – a relationship – they used Him as a THING that could be carted around. They apparently did not believe His power could extend beyond His “box.” How often do we use God, seeing Him merely as a source of power to accomplish our own agenda, containing Him within our own understanding and plans?

  • Danya Ho

    Somewhere along the way, the Philistines began to believe they could move the ark however they pleased, that all of God’s goodness could be contained in a four-foot-long box.

  • This devotional was so. good. I love the illustration of how we sometimes create a problematic relationship with God. 1) because we often put the vastness of God in a box and 2) we cram our other idols (selfish pride and hopeful gain) in that same box.

    This truth requires big time meditation and I feel like it’s been a lesson God has been teaching me the past few years. The key seems to be surrender. Surrender your plans for God’s. I think that’s what made Hannah’s prayer so successful. It wasn’t that she believed she would get what she wanted. But she prayed and believed God knew the desires of her heart, then she surrendered it. Without anxiety. Just let it go. Whether God blessed her with a baby was besides the point. She surrendered and put her faith in Him.

    Ooh God please replace my boxes with your vastness. Please let it spread across my my mind and heart. Please replace my idols with your love. Help me laugh with no fear of the future. Be my joy and anticipation.

    • Brandi

      ❤️ Yes!

    • Abi

      I love this – Surrendering my own plans for God’s plans, not coming and begging and praying for my own plants to come to fruition, but surrendering the desires of my heart to God, who sees all things and who sees the big picture of life and eternity.

    • Jennifer

      Amen

  • Oh father, my god falls every day just like the philistines gods did. My eating disorder steal kills and destroys, but your love is flawless. Completely and utterly flawless. Lord above, keep me. Let me rest in your embrace moment after moment, for eternity. You carry me each step and I am yours and you are mine. My eating disorder, though it tries, only fails me. It falls and falls, leaving me empty and depressed. But your goodness shines fervently. Oh my soul, look to your Savior! Oh my God, keep me in your arms and teach me how to want thee. Show me how to worship you. Make me a servant after your heart my Lord…

    • Lana

      Just said a prayer for your healing. Sending you all of my love.

    • She Reads Truth

      Hi Abbs, this is Abby from the SRT team. Thank you for sharing with the community, and what a beautiful prayer! We are praying for you now, for strength, healing and encouragement. If you haven’t already, we would also encourage you to reach out and seek spiritual counsel and community from a local church, spiritual leader or a trusted mentor. Having those real life relationships and additional community support can often make such a difference as you’re facing a struggle like this. So glad to have you here!

    • Viv

      Hi Abbs. As I read your post my prayers were lifted high for you to our Great God. I struggled for many years with anorexia and I understand how it steals, kills and destroys. My prayer is that you will find the healing and victory that comes through Christ and that you may see your identity as His daughter….because that is who you are:) You are so loved.

  • Krystine

    I am a day behind in Samuel already but God knew what he was doing having me read about the traveling ark of the covenant today. I live in Phoenix where there is usually not much rain except for right now during monsoon season. I typically wake up at 5am to work out but have been feeling unmotivated and tired of my workouts. Today I still got up like I usually do and I am so glad I did! There was a beautiful raknbow in the pink sky of the sunrise as I walked to the gym. Then after work, there was a huge rainbow across the sky as I waited for the bus! Twice today God has put these beautiful rainbows right in front of me to remind me of his promise and love! He is so amazing!

  • What struck me was the fact that the Philistines, after their god being destroyed and being stricken with illness 5 times, STILL weren’t ready to acknowledge the power of God. They decided on a final test with the cows. COWS, people. This hit home for me. How often do I ignore God’s correction? How often do I doubt His power and authority? Then, I say things like, “Well, if this is really God’s will, then THIS will happen,” or, “If God doesn’t want me to do this, then something else will come up” – ignoring the fact that my plans frequently disintegrate before my eyes. I want to test Him. I often don’t see it that way, though. I chalk up my struggles and failures to “life” rather than taking a step back and asking our Father to quiet my spirit and allow Him to correct me and work within me. I am realizing that I rarely take correction from Him. When I don’t get the response from Him that I want, I move Him to another area in my life. I disregard His gentle nudging toward the Truth.
    This is my pride. Definitely a gut-check today.

  • Lovely. I think I box God into my own nature: Giving me boxes to check and tasks to complete in order to be worthy. It’s a joke and I know better – that’s just where my fleshless nature always turns. He is better than my picture and I trust that He is slowly changing it to reflect His character better.

  • I apologize in advance, this is a long comment. I felt moved to contribute it in hopes that it will help someone in a similar situation. So, I’ve been married 27 years this Nov 2017, and have suffered emotional abuse and my spouse committing emotional and physical adultery, and all that it contains for 24 of those years. It’s been very bad. I’ve sought help/advice from many “Godly” persons and received my Biblical options, sympathy, and unsound advice. It is only because of God’s loving kindness that He gave me a vision and a promise, 3 days before everything went south, that I have been able to stand fast and not divorce, as He told me I couldn’t. Over the 27 years my alone time with God has been sporadic and I didn’t always feel His presence or seem to reap any spiritual benefit, often just intellectual knowledge. Daily for a month, then off and on for a month, no consistency. In spite of this, He has certainly been faithful to take me through many a rough patch over the years. Then I found this site about 6 months ago. I would occasionally read the study; my time with God was still off and on. At the beginning of this July, I stumbled onto the following site: vinefellowshipnetwork.org/H5NA2XDYBD8BE85ZMTOH (this leads straight to the videos). There are some amazing videos on how to maximize your time with God! 5 easy, very effective steps. I took 10 pages of notes just on the how to videos! I have been following these steps daily since the beginning of July and am so in step with God, finally! My marriage has not changed one iota. In fact I found out that my spouse had a secret appt. with a divorce attorney the other day that he has yet to tell me about. Now to the point of this study; this issue of putting God into boxes. Since I have truly been abiding in the Lord by spending focused time with Him every day, with my focus being on Him not me (guided by the info from the videos), He has given me great joy and peace. Even finding out about the attorney appt. has not shattered my joy. The Lord has given me great compassion for my spouse and the experiences he suffered as a child that he repeats in our marriage. I now know, that I know, that I know, God is with me and has a wonderful plan for my life. I don’t know how it will come about nor if it will include my spouse, but that is no longer the important element. Back when I thought I was being obedient by the “grit your teeth and bear it” method, I prayed for salvation for my spouse. I knew that was a prayer for my benefit as well as his. Of course he would do right by me once he was saved…right? Now I see that was a box I put God in. God is not confined to doing one small task at a time. He does not have to work on things in linear order. I now recognize my prayer for what it was, more selfish than compassionate. Contrasted with my prayers now, salvation for my spouse without any stipulations. As the writer says regarding putting God in a box, “Maybe it’s containing God to a specific place or restricting His character to the confines of our own small experiences.” or in my case, what I wanted my future experience to be, “…stuffing my box with selfish pride and hopeful gain but still calling it God’s will.” Yes, I see now that my box was very cheap and contained a tiny version of the one true God. He is so much more. He can and will do more than we can even imagine, if we just abide and let God be God.

    • Rcg

      Hello Dana. Thank you for taking the time to share the information on the videos (I have bookmarked!). And thank you for sharing your story of hope and trust in Jesus. I will be praying for your husbands salvation and for your continued peace.

    • Shelby

      Dana,
      Firstly I would like to tell you the major step you have made releasing that heavy weight that can weigh us down without us really acknowledging it. I am praying for you to have inner peace and solitude with events that are out of your control. Remember to pray specific and to always look up. You have a community here, if you need us.. we are all sisters of our gracious Lord. I’m proud of you taking more steps with the Lord and spending more time with Him. If your spouse is not saved and you being saved, God is gracious enough to extend that blessing. I’m praying for your marriage and maybe your hearts can be mended and focus on what initially brought you both together. A great marriage book which opened my eyes greatly is “Love and Respect” by Dr Emerson Eggerichs; for either you or both of you.

      Sending love and prayers!

    • Brandi

      Thank you for sharing! I have often found myself praying those same kind of prayers for my husband. And it was such a good reminder today that our Father is not confined to doing one small task at a time – our God does not have to work on things in linear order! Awesome!

    • Cathy

      Dana, I too am the wife of a man whose “drug of choice” was sex. I was blissfully unaware of it for 36 years, and just 2 months ago, he was forced to confess it to me when he lost his job because of it. I am shattered. My situation is easier than yours because my husband is a believer and he is very very remorseful, and is working hard on his recovery. He went to a men’s workshop in Minnesota called Faithful and True, which seemed to make a huge difference to him. They also have a workshop in October for the wives. Join me there! :)

      As I have studied this chapter, I began to wonder if God allowed this to happen, not only to shake my husband loose from his sin, but also to make ME focus more on Him. Perhaps I had put my relationship with my husband above my relationship with God. At any rate, that is what is happening, and for that, I am grateful.

    • Sarah Tarkington

      Thank you for this resource, not only did it help me but I have someone near and dear to me that I believe my gain the clarity and some of the answers she’s been looking for and not accepting from me.

  • When I read the passage, I was struck by the Philistines lack of awe for the God of the Ark. Their god was brought down before the Ark twice and I thought, wouldn’t they be amazed by the One True God? Wouldn’t they want to give their devotion to the One who reigned over their fallen god? They were totally blind to anything but “their god.”

    I read an article about this passage and it said….the Philistines wanted the two to coexist. They saw the power in the God of the Israelites but they wanted God to coexist with their culture and their god. I thought, how ridiculous is that! They totally missed it.

    But the article went on to state, how many of us do this with our modern day idols? Pride, success, wealth, relationships, etc. and the list continues. We try to maintain a relationship with God while we pursue our idols but when we are stripped of the thing we are pursuing, how many of us try to send God away like the Philistines? Who holds onto the god instead of The God?

    This is another good reminder for me to hold tight to scripture and the truth it fills me with. It’s another reminder to be open to what the Lord has for me instead of holding tight to my worldly perspective on things. He is sovereign and I pray He reigns supreme in my heart!

  • Momandorder

    The box I put GOD in is trust…can I trust HIM enough to rule my life without my help. About a month before my beautiful daughter died unexpectedly I had remarked that I want to be like Job…”Though he slay me, I will hope in HIM” Time and time again I feel I need to help GOD accomplish His work in my life and my five remaining son’s lives. I pick back up that burden and try to make everything “fit”. It can “look” ok but what I am really saying is…I DON’T TRUST YOU TO BE WHO YOU SAY YOU ARE. The path of least resistance for me is to stress and prod and cram all that garbage into boxes and think that somehow I can turn it around with perseverance. I am as Paul..doing the very things I don’t want to do. Silly..silly me. Hanging onto the “sovereignty” of my rags instead of TRUSTING in the sovereignty of my Creator and Redeemer.

    • Karen From Virginia

      I cannot grasp the suffering you have felt. And even though there is a lot of confusion and you’re sorting through a lot of pain as well as ideas that you have believed I know that God is holding you. It is a part of your grief and I’m believing that God will show you the way through. Sometimes worship and singing can just begin to bring rest her heart. Sometimes we think too much and it’s important to just be. When God weeps by Joni Erickson Tada is a good book about suffering. If you have time. God bless

    • Keryn

      I like this… Romans 7! I do the same and then in my strength it all crumbles…Lord teach me your ways!
      I am so sick of flubbing through life!

  • I read that the men of Beth-shemesh were Levites and so they could make sacrifices when they got back the Ark. But then almost immediately, they ask for others to take it from them. I was left wondering whether they deserved the gift of getting back the Ark. Then I started to think of all the gifts God has given me that I have not appreciated, did not deserve, do not deserve – including the greatest gift of all, given by His Son’s blood.

  • Wildflower

    Also, I’m finding that one of my biggest helps in surrendering and trusting Him is to PRAY FOR surrender and trust! Pray for help to not put Him in a box! Pray that he helps you surrender to His will! I think a misconception I’ve held on to my whole life was that I had to do it all on my own and fix myself. It’s so freeing to pray about my faults and flaws and trust Him to do His work there.

  • Wildflower

    I think as with anything it’s about the heart. I recently started a prayer journal. Did I do this to try and box God in? No, I don’t think so, I think I just wanted a new way to talk to him and be able to look back on prayers and praises. However, I’m finding that sometimes this makes me not want to pray unless I’m writing it in my journal! No no no, silly brain, that’s not how it’s supposed to work! That’s boxing Him in! Ugh, I really need his gentle guidance and reminders. Silly wandering sheep I am!

    • Shelby

      Hello!
      A suggestion could be to pray before and after each Bible study and insert in your prayer journal to “guide my heart and mind in the ways of you Lord so I can see your true message and not misconstrue the heartfelt message.” Lots of times after you pray pre-session, the questions in which you once had.. as you write them down you feel a sense of answers come to you.

  • That sentence gave me chills. “That’s what Jesus does for us. He carries us into the very presence of our God, in all His holiness” I had a picture of Jesus carrying a person, carrying me (although I couldn’t see my face because it was hiding in His chest) into the very presence of God. It was overwhelming and then I realized JESUS was carrying me. To be so close, to have His arms around me, protecting me, taking me where I need to be and that I might be close enough to bury my face in His chest. Amazing. I am undone.

    • Emily B.

      A beautiful image. Thank you for that.

    • Cecelia Enns Schulz

      I love this picture. And I love the truth of it. Jesus carrying me, holding me close, always present, always for me.

  • Rebekah DeLibro

    I desire to be in the presence of you Lord and savior. I want to make more time than just devotion in the morning and the evening, it’s hard to make it happen. I feel like I fall short of this so much. I struggle between being still and getting things accomplished. Praying that I don’t put God in a box or only reserve his presence to a certain time of day.

    • Wildflower

      Invite Him into the other aspects of your life! Maybe listen to some worship music while you’re doing chores, or just talk to Him as you’re going throughout your day. Doesn’t mean you necessarily have to make more time to sit down and do a devotion. Just invite Him into everything :)

    • Karen From Virginia

      Rebekah,
      We all fall short. The Lord loves you. He sees you. He has already accepted you in the Beloved. Live in that love. I have often prayed Lord I want to want you. Please give me the desire to want you before anything else. Jesus knows your heart and as you pray sincerely to ask him to expand your desire to know him he will open the doors in and change you. Be patient with yourself and humbly keep going to him. He loves to see your desire to want to know him more. Change is not easy and he knows it he is a kind God as well as loving you’re his daughter.

  • That last paragraph… I am once again just left in such awe that God, the Creator, would make a way for us to be in His presence, as our Redeemer, our Saviour.

    As a worship leader, my heart so often respond to scripture with song, and today “Boldly I Approach” by Rend Collective came to mind. Through Jesus, we are invited to have such a deep, personal relationship with Him; through Jesus, we are able to approach the Lord and be in His presence, not with fear, but with boldness and with confidence. How amazing is that?? Hopefully the link to the video will work! https://youtu.be/4QDnVD7gu5Y

    Thank you for such words of encouragement today!

    • Jackie

      This song is a perfect pairing/response to this scripture. It is wild: some of the words used to describe US in this song: holy, blameless, welcomed as your own into the arms of majesty. All because we are seen through the blood of Christ. Thank you for sharing!

    • Ellen

      Thank you for this song.

  • It amazed me that the people of Ashdod were not concerned when they walked into their temple for the SECOND time to find that the God of Israel explicitly showed them that He was above any idol. God removed the idol’s head and hands (I repeat, his HEAD and HANDS leaving ONLY THE TORSO on the ground). You would think they would have been shaken to the core if they saw their “god” in such a way. I find this both funny and saddening for the people of Ashdod, but it’s the truth. God will surely let you know exactly who He is and I absolutely love that. There is only one God and He let that be known.

    • Brea

      It makes me think of how many times we do the same. How many times God destroys the very idols in our lives, only for us to pick them back up & put them back together for us to worship them instead of Christ. I think about relationships & careers or maybe even materialistic things that we put above and before God. We see failed relationships, demotions at work or a car wreck as bumps in the road of life & we so desperately try to mend it all & really God has allowed these things to happen because He wants us to focus on Him and align our lives with His will & to stop putting those things we covet before Him.

  • I love 1 Samuel. It is both captivating and convicting. I am convicted of the idols I allow in my heart in the very presence of God. I come to Him this morning with a humble heart in a posture of repentance.

    • Brea

      Yes! Such a good point! We think “how dare they put their idol in the presence of The Ark” … but how often do we do the same?? Where we try to give our selfish desires the same space/time as God to exist in harmony and it can never happen. We can only serve one master & our idols will all bow & pass away. So much conviction in this passage!

  • I re-read day one this morning because I missed yesterday and wanted to begin again. I love the similarity between Hannah’s prayer and Mary’s. Both of them were so humble and their hearts were so focused on God.

  • Aimeejoy

    I have been ruminating lately on the ways people seek freedom, yet in the very act of finding freedom and fulfillment, bondage occurs. Looking around, I see this phenomenon in addiction–seeking escape from pain and instead becoming slave to it. In occupation– seeking fulfillment through a success that will provide enough to live comfortably in the world and instead becoming chained to the desk, reliant on the Identity of success it provides. The oxymoron of this type of worldly attachment is evident everywhere. When these kinds of arresting attachments form, I’ve noticed a couple common themes. One is that in each attachment that is not to God, tolerance is formed. A person is able to experience fully the thing/ identity to which they are attached–the mystery is taken from it. In the two examples I previously mentioned, eventually the amount of consumption will become unsatisfactory and a person will feel like they need more and more. What is so amazing about God is that, we are always in a place of awe and discovery of Him. We, therefore experience true freedom without burdensome bondage in God because we can never know God so completely that He is not more than enough in any situation. In 1 Samuel 5-6 the philistines try to harness God’s mystery. Silly Philistines :)… Today, I am inspired by God’s unharnessed glory– His mystery that keeps me in awe. My spirit is freed when I live in a state of discovery of My Creator!

  • Ashley BB

    As a new mom, let’s be real. I LOVE BOXES! Beautiful, colored tubs to organize the clothes that my son is quickly growing out of- washed, folded, organized by size and placed into clear, light blue tubs for easy viewing, set aside for our next child. I like to organize things, then place them in various containers (hellloooo Container Store!), and if I am truly honest with myself- I find comfort in putting God into pretty little boxes as well.

    Often I find that I take comfort in religion. Rules, standards, guidelines all give me a very clear cut description of what I should be doing and how I should be living and my Type A personality loves that. When I read about the ark, what it held, what it meant to the Israelites- I totally get it! An ornate box that carried articles of faith that was a visual representation of Gods’ covenant with them, sign me up!

    But in reality, through Jesus, all my boxes have been busted. Faith and relationship can be hard, but it’s messy and beautiful all at the same time. It forces me to trust, to hope, to hold on with all of my might to what is unseen. Boxes are comforting. But what Jesus Christ did for us at the cross is breathtaking. May I toss aside all of my pretty boxes and the ideas and emotions within them.
    May I run, full speed into the arms of Christ and have a messy and deeply incredible life walking with Him.

  • “That’s what Jesus does for us. He carries us into the presence of our God, in all His holiness.”
    This statement took my breath away. It left me speechless with wonder and amazement. Thank you, Jesus for dying for me and making access to the One that the angels sing about – “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.”

  • Caroline

    Thank you Lord for accepting me and allowing me to be in your presence. Thank you for removing all labels from the boxes I’ve put myself in and put you in. Thank you for removing the chains that tie us down from experiencing all that you are and have for us

    http://Www.in-due-time.com

  • Challenged to think about the boxes I put God in! One is definitely the box of routine–within my daily life I’ve made space for God, but sometimes I don’t give Him much more. A second is my upbringing/worldview–I realize that my life has been pretty easy, so it’s easy to follow God. I’m asking Him to challenge the way I see the world/people!

  • Carrie Rogers

    Thank you Jesus!

  • Kelly R Smith

    “I’m still easily persuaded that I can break God and His glory down into ‘good enough’ pieces of religious comfort—pieces I can carry with me.” Me too. My small, finite mind cannot begin to grasp the holiness of God. That is some of the reason accounts like this are difficult to accept–that a loving God would inflict such harsh punishment on men. But sin is *that* serious! Our worse-than-we-think sin separates us from a holier-than-we-can-imagine God. The only bridge between our sin-filled hearts and a holy God is Jesus. Thank you, Jesus! “Who is able to stand in the presence of the Lord this holy God?” Because of Christ, we are! This is shout-worthy news (but the kids are still asleep so I’m celebrating silently)!

  • Becky Kaskel

    I am grateful for your ability to break things down & make them easily understandable.
    I know that oftentimes I fee like the one who is unworthy of standing before the Lord. Sometimes it has to do with my inability to keep from the messiness of my sin, but mostly I feel unworthy because I don’t know how.
    It’s so powerful to know that even as I sit this morning and soak in His word, He is there with me, grabbing my hand and taking me a little further on this journey.
    Grateful for this community!

  • Karen From Virginia

    When I read the story, I think of two things. One, is the holiness of God. It’s hard to believe people would be struck down or cursed because they look at the arc of the covenant. That’s because we are under the new covenant in which we are able to approach the throne of grace to find mercy and help in our time of need. Hebrews 4:12. But also in Hebrews he talks about that without holiness one will not see the Lord. I think in our culture we can often be so focused on the love in the sweetness of Jesus that we forget that he is holy and he is pure and he is worthy to be cherished. It is important for me to always remember that even though Jesus is my brother and God is my father and that is so beautiful there is also a part that he is God and above and holy and glorious. My heart smile’s at this truth.

    The second thing I love is really how the God Dagon reacts in the presence of the ark. I just enjoy the humor of God making himself known as the one true God. That he is not equal to others.
    I find comfort and strength in knowing that I not only have a loving God but a strong and mighty God. I know that even though I don’t understand everything he will leave me and he has the strength to do it. He really does. I grew up with a father that was intimidating and abusive and he really he didn’t know how to have my back. I know he tried and someways he did real good but he didn’t know how to guide me and lead me. So whenever I read the Bible is God being strong up especially on behalf of his people I just smile because I know that I am not alone and he will always guide me and he will fight my battles. He is my rear guard. Thanks for letting me worship him in this setting, God bless your day.

  • churchmouse

    The Philistines capture the ark and carry it away. Immediately trouble descends and they know why and from Whom. A stump of a statue at the feet of the ark is all the proof they need. The tumors are the exclamation point. But instead of falling on their knees acknowledging the powerful God of Israel and pleading for forgiveness, they merely send the dreaded ark on. Rather than confront their sin and repent, they turned their backs and tried to forget it ever happened. Remove the offense from sight and all is well. How foolish! They turned their backs on redemption. Oh my… There is nothing new under the sun. We see this scenario played out even today in the lives of those who follow the Philistines foolishness and ignorance. I’m praying today for hard hearts to be broken, wills to be yielded and knees to bend. Oh Lord, I pray for my family members and friends who don’t yet know you – that they would stop running away and instead run towards the Ark – the Ark of safety found only in You. Amen.

    • CC

      I thought the same thing, Churchmouse! I’ve read this passage several times before but I always read it hoping for a different outcome, the way you watch your favorite movie hoping your beloved character makes it out alive this time! It seems as if they were so close to getting it, so close to understanding – they recognized that the Egyptians hearts had been hardened and they didn’t want the same fate. But, like so many today, the relief of pain and judgment and a return to their old way of life was more desirable than a humbling redemption. Also praying today that God would soften hearts and open the eyes of those who are suffering but who have failed to see the new life He freely gives!

    • Emily

      Amen!

    • Melanie Bisson

      AMEN!! This is such a key takeaway from this lesson!! I just find myself yelling at my phone “Why don’t you just believe!! Your “God” can’t do that! You know it’s true!!” … and I find myself wanting to pray desperately for friends and family who don’t yet know Him and who playfully mock me on my recent walk and boldness with Christ.

      This is the first SRT lesson where I’ve thoroughly read through the comments because this story is so rich and powerful and everyone has wonderful things to say in response!

    • Lana

      I wrote this down in my journal. So good!

  • Kaitlin! What a way to turn this chapter in something so understandable and easy to be grasped. Thank you so much!

    • Kellie

      Completely agree! I love the commentary today, and I’m honestly so thankful to have SRT breaking down difficult texts in the Old Testament and consistently bringing it back to the gospel. You’ve given me a lot to chew on today–thank you!

      • India

        Agreed! Reading through comments and seeing how others are relating make it so much easier for me to understand and learn!

  • It is sad that the Ark of the Covenant, which was meant to be a symbol of God’s presence with the Israelites, had instead become something to be feared. The Philistines couldn’t live with it among them because of their sin and even when it was returned to the Israelites, seventy men were killed when they looked inside.
    In chapter 7:2 the Israelites send the Ark away but then mourn because it seems God has abandoned them. It’s like they long for his presence but at the same time they can’t deal with his presence because of sin.
    It reminds me that, without Jesus, we are exactly the same. But because of Jesus we can enter God’s presence. His death took our sin so we are holy in God’s sight and we can approach boldly and confidently, without fear.

    • Emily B.

      I like your commentary on how everyone viewed the Ark. Thanks for sharing!

  • I always had a hard time reading the old testament, especially when God seems to be a punishing God that is frightning.
    I like the God of Jesus a lot more. It is hard to see these two gods as one and the same.

    • Karen From Virginia

      Farrah, my prayer is that Will reveal Himself to you in this study. I’ve been reading the Bible for a long time. God can show you the beauty of His holiness and His ways. The New Testament comes alive when we understand the history behind it. There are so many stories of mans rebellion or neediness and how God is merciful. The Lord is is with you. He says Do not be afraid.

    • Pam

      Farah, I’ve always struggled with the Old Testament also but for the past year, I’ve been reading through and instead of seeing a frightening God, I see one of mercy…one that pursued the children Israel and forgave them time after time, one that provided for His children, and guided them with love. In reading through the OT, you see the repetition of God’s faithfulness.

    • Sarah

      I agree totally with you!! As this study was approaching I was glad because I definitely need help to understand the Old Testament for the same reason, the harshness read.
      I have pondered the amazement of the God believers at this time. How easy it is for us to believe after the fact, after Jesus so beautifully showed us the truth. But, for these people to believe before hand amazes me!

    • Nads

      I think what helps me with this God of the Old T versus the God of New Testament is when it was explained to me that God didn’t evolve but, mankind DID! The way he dealt with his “infant” believers is different than as mankind matured. We are often more black and white with our youngest kids than our older ones….I didn’t explain that very well. Can an SRT help clarify me?!

      • Farah

        Thank you for your answer. Do you mean that God needed to be more severe back then because the people needed that more than we do now?
        Because I think mankind is messing things up now as well.

    • Lana

      Hey Farah! I don’t read the Bible literally. Instead, I often ask myself: what is the wisdom the author is trying to convey? Then I look at the text for all sorts of rhetorical devices the author might be using and why. So for example, the past couple of days the author has used a lot of contrasts. Hanna vs Eli. Samuel vs Eli’s sons. Then I ask myself why. Why is the author making these back to back contrasts? What truth is he trying to illustrate through his writing?

      So when you see God smashing baby skulls like we did in Isaiah, I really don’t think our God of love and mercy was actually smashing baby skulls. Instead, I asked: what larger point is Isaiah making here. For me, it was that living a cruel life can lead to all sorts of devastation.

      From my knowledge, ancient writers often didn’t tell their stories like it was the 7 o’clock news. They were writing to convey truth and did so using all sorts of rhetorical devices that would help people understand. At least that’s my understanding. Hope this helps!

Further Reading...