Scriptures

1 Samuel 5

Introduction

In the last chapter we saw that the Philistines had defeated the Israelites twice and they captured the Ark of the Covenant. The next two chapter focus on the events and problems which the Philistines had because they had the Ark of the Covenant in their presence.

The Ark In Ashdod And Ekron

‘After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.’ 1 Samuel 5:1-5

The Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant to Ashdod, which was one of the main cities in Philistia. This was the highly ‘religious’ place where Dagon, the idol of the Philistine god, was placed. Dagon was believed to be the father of Baal.

When the Philistines put the Ark next to Dagon, when they arose in the morning, they found their idol had fallen over face down before the Ark of the Lord. They rebuilt the idol but the same thing happened again, this time the head and hands were completely broken off. This was God’s way of demonstrating that their idols were no match for Him.

The Philistines must have come to the conclusion that since Dagon was the father of Baal, then there must have been another god, an unknown god, behind Baal whom they didn’t know, Acts 17:22-29.

‘The LORD’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumours. When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, ‘The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.’ So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, ‘What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?’ They answered, ‘Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.’ So they moved the ark of the God of Israel. But after they had moved it, the LORD’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumours. So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, ‘They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.’ So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, ‘Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it will kill us and our people.’ For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy on it. Those who did not die were afflicted with tumours, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.’ 1 Samuel 5:6-12

Because the Philistines had stolen the Ark of the Covenant, God goes on to punish them. He caused devastation among them and afflicted them with tumours in Ashdod, Gath and Ekron.

The Philistines quickly conclude that these things were happening to them because they had the Ark of the Covenant in their presence and so they decide to give it back to the Israelites. They also come to the conclusion that this had nothing to do with their idol gods, 1 Samuel 5:5, because they call it, ‘the ark of the god of Israel’.

We need to note that not only did the Philistines pray to God for deliverance, God heard their prayers. As we enter the next chapter, we will see that the Philistines were delivered from their tragedies, and it was possible only by divine intervention.

This also shows us that God hears the prayers of other nations as well as those who are His chosen people, and that He cares about all mankind, Acts 10:30-31.

Go To 1 Samuel 6

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Galatians 2:20

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