I Samuel Chapter 5

"The Ark in Captivity to the Philistines"

This Bible Study is written by Roger Christopherson, and it's transcription is provided with written permission by http://www.theseason.org

I Samuel 5:1 "And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Eben-ezer unto Ashdod."

Eben-ezer was the rocky place where the battle took place, where the thirty four thousand men of Israel were killed in battle, and the ark of God was taken from Eli's two sons. Notice in this chapter how God dealt with those that have His ark of the covenant, when they are not to have the precious things of God. God has His own ways of dealing with man, and God is going to hold a revival meeting there in Ashdod. God is going to teach these Philistines how to respect Him and His things. There are no Israelites involved in the lessons that God is going to give them.

I Samuel 5:2 "When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon."

"Dagon" is the name of the fish god, and the word "Dagon" means "great fish" in the Hebrew tongue. This is the same heathen god that the Assyrians of Ninevah worshipped in Jonah's day. They believed that God was a great fish and thus this god had it's head in the form of a fish.

I Samuel 5:3 "And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again."

God was giving these unbelievers of Ashdod and showing them that everyone bows to God in His presence. God was present in that temple of Dagon, for the mercy seat of God was represented in the ark of the covenant. The ark of the covenant was not the presence of God, but it was God's mercy seat here on earth. The blessed artifacts that God had set before man to remind them of His faithfulness and love for them were all stored in the ark of the covenant. The were reminders of God's word and promises that he gave to His people, the Israelites. They were not intended for the heathen, yet through the failure of Eli and the priesthood, and their indifference, here sat the mercy seat of God before the god of Dagon, and simply could not stand before the true God.

The mercy seat is where mercy is passed out to all those that will call out to our Father, yet even today, people will not call out to God for mercy, even when it is before them. These Philistines saw their god lying there in the dirt before the ark of the covenant, and they tried to set him in an upright state again. So God took the seat itself, and through divine intervention caused the statute of Dagon to fall.

I Samuel 5:4 "And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him."

In the morning when the people of the Philistines came into their temple of Dagon, there again was this statue lying face down on the ground. However this second time the head of the statue of Dagon and both of the palms of its hands were cut off. The only ting that remained of their god was the part that reminded them of the fish. All human parts were severed from the statue.

I Samuel 5:5 "Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon's house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day."

All of the Philistines from the top leaders and their priests to the least would not cross the threshold into the temple of Dagon. They were afraid to enter into their heathen temple as long as the ark of the covenant was in their presence. Again notice that God takes care of what belongs to Himself. No man was involved in taking the head and hands off that old statue of a mixed half fish, half man statue that made the form of Dagon. The ark was a symbol of His presence, and even in those symbols God took care that they would be treated with respect.

I Samuel 5:6 "But the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and He destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof."

These "emerods" are what we call today, Hemorrhoids or piles today. Other places in the Scriptures refer to them as "tumors". These hemorrhoids are also part of the curses that Moses warned the children of Israel that would come upon them if they broke the commands and statutes that he gave to them. That next morning when they came to their temple they found their statue of Dagon beheaded. All the men of Ashdod, and all the other towns of the Philistines came down also with these hemorrhoids. There were not many men in Ashdod that found great comfort in sitting in their easy chairs that day.

I Samuel 5:7 "And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, "The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for His hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god."

The Philistines were taking a beating for the fact that they took the ark of the covenant as one of their spoils of war. They knew exactly where the trouble was coming from, and who was at the cause of their discomfort. The fact that Dagon's hands were broke off showed that Dagon had no power for them anymore. And with the head gone it shows us that God does have a sense of humor.

I Samuel 5:8 "They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said "What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?" And they answered, "Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath." And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thither."

With their army completely covered with hemorrhoids, they are not going to war against anyone. It is time to call a counsel of all the leaders of the land and determine exactly what should be done with this ark of the covenant that has destroyed their gods and brought sickness upon the men of the land. Gath was one of the cities that was taken by the Philistines, and was identified as the place of the wine press. The people of Ashdod decided to get the ark out of their cities and lands.

I Samuel 5:9 "And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the Lord was against the city with a very great destruction: and He smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts."

The men of Gath also came down with these emerods when the ark came into their presence, and they were suffering greatly. the city underwent a great destruction and God did it all without any help of Israel. The lesson that we are to learn from this is that God can get along quite well without the help of any man. God controls the universe and the sickness that come upon men. God works in natural ways. He gives the victory where it belongs, and when Israel did not pray to Him for victory, Israel became losers. The people of the Philistines also did not believe in God, for they were heathen, and when God came into their presence they desired that the presence of God be removed from them. The Israelites did not go to Samuel and ask for a victory or even consider if what they were doing was in the interest of God's will or plan.

It elders wanted the ark of the covenant to represent God, and they used the ark as a religious symbol in the same manner as the heathen use their sorcery. They replaced God with symbolism and placed the items of God over the person of God. It is God that does the saving, and not those things that represent God. In reality, God was being very generous with these Philistines, because in Israel if anyone touched the ark or tried to carry it, they were dead. God knew of the Philistines ignorance, and the law that God placed on His people did not apply to these Philistine heathen.

I Samuel 5:10 "Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, "They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people." "

So the ark is now going from Gath to Ekron, and the torment will also follow to that city also. Along with the ark are all the hemorrhoids, and troubles that follow those that have this ark in their midst. God laid out in detail exactly what is to be done with the ark, how it is to kept, and who can and can not come in the presence of the ark. To follow those ways is to receive God's blessings and to go against them will bring these diseases and even death. This even applies to our day today, for God has laid out His plan for the age of the flesh that we live in today, and when we follow those ways, which even includes the health laws, than we can expect to live with the blessings of God. To go against those ways, even in ignorance will only end in sickness and trouble.

I Samuel 5:11 "So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people:" for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there."

There is no confusion in the minds of the Philistines for they knew exactly Who's hand it was that was upon them. They knew that the hands and head of their god was good for nothing for their old fish statue lay on the temple floor with its head and hands broken off, and all that was left was the form of a dead fish. "The hand of God was very heaven there"; and all of the Philistines knew exactly where the trouble came from. God is getting along with these heathen by Himself and he doesn't need the defiant Israelites to fight his battles for him. All the world is God's creation, and He can and does use the things of nature, of earthquakes, and sickness or any other means He desires to see that his plan is carried out to the final detail. God loves His people and He will use us as long as we work within the instructions of His plan, which is His holy Word.

I Samuel 5:12 "And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven."

As the men of the households were dying off, and coming down with their piles and sickness, the Philistines were learning to cry out to the true God for help. God works in wondrous ways, and he uses those things that are natural to bring about His will.

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