BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 8, Day 2: 1 Samuel 4-5

Image result for 1 samuel 4 & 5

Summary of 1 Samuel 4-5:

1 Samuel 4:

Israel fought against the Philistines who defeated them. Not understanding why, the elders of Israel decide to bring the ark of the Covenant out from Shiloh and take it into battle, hoping then they’ll defeat the Israelites. At first, the Philistines were scared, knowing the history of the God of Israel and how powerful He is. However, they rallied and the Israelites were defeated, losing 30,000 men. They fled to their camp and the ark of God was captured. Eli’s sons, who brought the ark back, died in the battle.

Hearing the ark of the Covenant had been captured, Eli who was 98 years old, fell over dead after having led Israel for 40 years. Phineas’ wife gave birth after his death, named her boy Ichabod, which means no glory.

1 Samuel 5:

Image result for 1 samuel 4 & 5The Philistines took the ark from Ebenezer to Ashdod and set it in their god Dagon’s temple. The god had fallen before the ark of the Lord! God afflicted tumors upon the people for stealing the ark. The ark was moved to Gath where the same tumors afflicted those people. Next, the ark was sent to Ekron where people died and were afflicted with tumors so the Philistines decided to send the ark back to Israel.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 8, Day 2: 1 Samuel 4-5:

3) The ark of the covenant was the place God/His glory dwelled. It held the broken Ten Commandments by Moses and the Testimony by God, the gold jar of manna, and Aaron’s staff. The Israelites were hoping God would be with them in battle if they took the ark of the covenant with them and grant them victory over the Philistines.

4) When the ark of the covenant arrived in the Israelites’ camp, all Israel shouted so loud the ground shook and scared the Philistines to the point they almost retreated. When the ark was captured, Eli and his two sons died because of it. When the ark was captured, all of Israel mourned and of course the Israelites were defeated in battle. Phineas’ wife gave birth to her baby.

The Philistines took the ark from Ebenezer to Ashdod and set it in their god Dagon’s temple. The god had fallen before the ark of the Lord! God afflicted tumors upon the people for stealing the ark. The ark was moved to Gath where the same tumors afflicted those people. Next, the ark was sent to Ekron where people died and were afflicted with tumors so the Philistines decided to send the ark back to Israel.

God is in control. Just because the Israelites thought God would show up and give them victory if they brought the ark with them, didn’t mean He did. They did not consult God on this matter. God also afflicted tumors on people as punishment for stealing the ark. God is God. He does what He wants.

5) This would be when they use God’s word to justify their actions. Pick and choose pieces of the Bible they think support their decisions. They claim God is with them in this or that decision when He’s not.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 8, Day 2: 1 Samuel 4-5:

Great lesson on God being in control. Just because you parade God around doesn’t mean He’s going to do what you want Him to do when it’s not in His will.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 8, Day 2: 1 Samuel 4-5:

Who were the Philistines?

The Philistines were an immigrant people from the military aristocracy of the island of Crete (Amos 9:7). Small numbers of Philistines were in the land at the time of Abraham, but they came in larger numbers soon after Israel came to Canaan from Egypt. They were organized into five city-states. The Philistines were the first people in Canaan to process iron. Israel competed on more equal terms with Moab and Ammon, but the Philistines had Greek military equipment (such as helmets, shields, chain mail armor, swords and spears) making the Philistines more formidable opponents.

During this time there was no great world power (such as Egypt or Assyria) seeking to dominate the region. So, Israel’s battles were waged against her near neighbors, such as the Moabites, the Ammonites, or as here, the Philistines.

Why bring the Ark of the Covenant into battle?

  • The Ark of the Covenant was the representation of the throne of God in Israel. Kept in the most holy place of the tabernacle, the people never saw it. Only the high priest entered and saw the ark, and only once a year. The elders wanted to take this representation of the throne of God out of the holy of holies (it could be moved when the tabernacle was to be moved), cover it, and bring it into battle with them. They hoped it would give confidence that God was really with them.
  • The ark went into battle before. The ark went in front of the marchers around the city of Jericho (Joshua 6:6-8). Moses told the priests to lead the ark into battle against the Midianites (Numbers 31:6). Later, Saul brought the ark into battle (1 Samuel 14:18), as did David (2 Samuel 11:11).
  • The elders rightly sensed they needed God’s help to win the battle. But they were wrong in the way they sought help. Instead of humbly repenting and seeking God, they turned to methods that God never approved. They only cared if it worked.
  • The elders believed the presence of the ark would make God work for them. “Their idea was that God should be forced to fight for them. If He was not willing to do it for their sake, He would have to do it for His honour’s sake.” (Ellison)
  • They regarded the ark as the ultimate “good luck charm” and believed they could not lose with it there. They looked to the ark to save them, not to the LORD.

Image result for ark of covenant

Spurgeon’s Take on the Israelites’ Use of the Ark of the Covenant:

“Instead of attempting to get right with God, these Israelites set about devising superstitious means of securing the victory over their foes. In this respect most of us have imitated them. We think of a thousand inventions; but we neglect the one thing needful… They forget the main matter, which is to enthrone God in the life, and to seek to do His will by faith in Christ Jesus.”

Why did the Israelites’ shouting upon seeing the Ark of the Covenant not work?

The Israelites thought they could manipulate God and force Him into doing what they wanted Him to do.

Bible Scholar Clarke says this: “Had they humbled themselves, and prayed devoutly and fervently for success, they would have been heard and saved. Their shouting proved both their vanity and irreligion.”

Their shouting was not from the heart nor did the Israelites have faith.

The Philistines knew the history of God and of the ark going into battle with the Israelites, but they did not submit to God. Hence, the tumors sent when the ark was taken as punishment for unbelief.

What do we learn from the Philistines’ victory over the Israelites?

  • Instead of giving up when things look bad we should trust the LORD and fight all the harder and decide we will not give up. Courage and persistence win many battles, even sometimes for the wrong side.

Why did the Israelites lose this battle?

  1. The Philistines fought with the courage of desperate men.
  2. The Israelites felt the battle would be easy with the ark of the Covenant there and did not try as hard.
  3. God did not bless Israel’s superstitious belief in the power of the ark instead of the power of God.

God did not appreciate being summoned to win a battle like a genie in a bottle. The Israelites believed if God was with them, they didn’t need to try so hard. We do this same thing. We think if God is on our side, the work will be easy.

Not only did Israel lose this battle, they lost far worse than they did before taking the ark into battle. The loss which prompted them to take the ark resulted in the death of about four thousand men of Israel (1 Samuel 4:2). With the ark more than seven times as many men of Israel were killed.

Fun Fact: In the late 1970’s, a five-line inscription was found on a grain silo in the ruins of Izbet Sarteh. When deciphered, it was found to contain a Philistine account of this battle, the capture of the ark, even specifically mentioning the priest Hophni. This is the earliest known extra-biblical reference to an Old Testament event.

Why did God allow the ark to be captured?

  • Losing the ark was far worse than losing the battle.
  • The very “thing” they thought would win the battle was captured. Israel made an idol of the ark and God often deals with our idolatry by taking the idol away.
  • God wanted to make sure the Israelites understood their mistake and punished them severely.

Even a good thing can be made an idol. God does not tolerate idols.

God still used the ark for His glory as He punished the Philistines wherever the ark traveled.

We see the fulfillment of God’s promise that the two sons of Eli would die on the same day as proof of His ultimate judgment on the house of Eli (1 Samuel 2:34).

Image result for aphek to shilohThe battle was fought near Aphek (1 Samuel 4:1), and it was at least 20 miles from Aphek to Shiloh. The messenger had a long way to go, the route was mostly uphill, and he carried very bad news.

Because the news was so bad he came with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. These were some of the traditional signs of mourning. The messenger brought bad news, and he let his appearance reflect how bad the news was.

The next time we encounter Eli’s family, they have moved as a group to Nob. Several Bible passages mention Shiloh’s destruction as a punishment for sin (Psalm 78:60-64Jeremiah 7:12 and 26:9). As an important site for worship, the Israelites were even more in despair at its destruction.

Bible scholar Ellison explains:  “The glory of God had indeed departed, but not because the ark of God had been captured; the ark had been captured because the glory had already departed.”

Why does God let bad things happen to good people?

  1. He allowed it as a righteous judgment upon Israel as a nation and the family of Eli. They simply received what they deserved.
  2. Secondly, God allowed it as a correction to the nation, so they would not trust in the ark of God, instead of in the God of the ark.
  3. Finally, though it seemed so terrible to man, was it all that terrible to God? At that moment, did God wring His hands in heaven, worried about how things would turn out? Worried about His reputation? Worried about the Philistines and their gods? Looking at it this way, the glory had not departed at all. Instead, God was just beginning to show His glory.

What do we learn from the defeat of the Israelites and the capture of the Ark of the Covenant?

  • Many circumstances that we regard as a calamity, God uses in a marvelous way to glorify Himself. Israel was right to be sad at the loss of life and the ark on that day. But they should have been confident, knowing God was well able to take care of Himself.

Bible Scholar Poole explains: “Thus as God was no loser by this event, so the Philistines were no gainers by it; and Israel, all things considered, received more good than hurt by it, as we shall see.”

1 Samuel 5:

No doubt, the Philistines were jubilant and confident in the superiority of their god over the God of Israel. They faced the God of Israel in battle and believed their god Dagon delivered them and defeated Israel. Dagon was half-man, half-fish and believed to be the father of Baal by the Philistines. Now, the Ark of the Covenant of Israel’s God stood as a trophy in the temple of their god Dagon. The victory seemed complete.

Instead, the statue bowed down before the ark of the covenant.

What do we learn from the ark being with the Philistines?

  • God will glorify Himself. He doesn’t need man to do so.
  • God can be as a fragrance of life to some and the aroma of death to others (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). It’s our choice.

God had given the Philistine priests a chance to turn from their god Dagon to Him. They rejected God despite the evidence. Now they would be punished. God would try again, only this time, it would be harsh.

What were the tumors? Possible answers include:

  1. Hemorrhoids
  2. Bubonic plague
  3. Dysentery, bloody flux, and ulcerated anus

The Philistines sent the ark back. They got rid of God. But we can’t get rid of God nor push Him away. One day, we’ll all answer to Him.

Advertisements

One thought on “BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 8, Day 2: 1 Samuel 4-5

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s