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

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Summary 1 Samuel 8:

Samuel grew old and his sons, Joel and Abijah, did not walk in the ways of the Lord. Thus, the elders of Israel asked for a king. Samuel consulted God who said the Israelites were rejecting Him as king. God told the people what a king would do to them: take sons and make them serve in the army and go out and fight battles and die, to plow his ground, to reap his harvest, to make weapons and chariots, take daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers, take their fields and give them to his attendants, take a tenth of their grain and the best of their cattle, donkeys, and flocks, and they themselves will become slaves.

The people did not listen to these warnings. They wanted a king so God relented.

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

12) The Israelites wanted a king because all the nations had a king. The cost of a king would be: take sons and make them serve in the army and go out and fight battles and die, to plow his ground, to reap his harvest, to make weapons and chariots, take daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers, take their fields and give them to his attendants, take a tenth of their grain and the best of their cattle, donkeys, and flocks, and they themselves will become slaves.

13) God gives the people what they want for Free Will and let’s them suffer the consequences. The people are stubborn and insist on a king anyways. They still think they know better than God. They are followers.

14) They follow what society does. Let homosexuality slide, sins slide, and say sin is okay when it’s not. They don’t ask God like they should. They buy into society’s view of “doing what feels good.” This costs Christians their morals, values, self-esteem, and relationship with God. Christians have gone to the extreme of not saying anything against sin when we should speak up against sin.

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

It’s sad that the Israelites want a king for the shallow reason “cause everyone else does.” How often do we do this same thing? IPhone, technology, what everyone else has or does is what we want. But is it good for us?

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

Samuel did the same thing as Eli: appointed his sons as judges (even though they were not from the tribe of Levi) and like Eli could not evaluate his sons fairly. He was blinded by love and emotion.

While it was wise for the elders of Israel to reject Samuel’s sons as leaders, it was wrong for them to ask for a king instead.

In itself, the desire to have a king was not bad. God knew one day Israel would have a king. 400 years before this God gave instructions to Israel about their future king (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). A king was in God’s plan for Israel.

Yet, the reason Israel wanted a king was wrong. It’s flimsy at best.

What’s the difference between a judge and a king in the Bible?

  • A judge was a leader raised up by God, usually to meet a specific need in a time of crisis. When the crisis was over usually the judge went back to doing what he did before.
  • king not only held his office as king as long as he lived, he also passed his throne down to his descendants.
  • Judges did not make a “government.”
  • Kings establish a standing government with a bureaucracy, which can be both a blessing and a curse to any people.

In Judges 8 Gideon was offered the throne over Israel. He refused it saying, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you.” (Judges 8:23) This was the heart of all the judges, and why Israel went some 400 years in the Promised Land without a king.

What did Samuel do that we often don’t do?

  • Prayed
  • Laid his heart before the Lord
  • Asked for guidance

Why did God give Israel a king?

Image result for 1 samuel 8God would teach Israel through this. Sometimes when we insist on having something bad God will allow us to have it and then teach through it.

In many ways this was a matter of timing. God knew Israel would have a king, but He wanted to give the king in His timing. Because Israel demanded a king out of bad and carnal reasons, God will give them a bad and carnal king. Israel will get what they want and will hurt because of it. Just like the ark. It was not time for victory; God would teach them a lesson.

If you’re faithful to king in heaven, you don’t need a king on earth.

Telling the Israelites the consequences makes them fully accountable for their choice. A king would bring problems as much as he’d solve them.

God will give Israel “their king” – Saul. Later, after “their king” fails, God will give Israel “His king” – David.

Because we suppose that God ultimately wanted Israel to be a monarchy (based on Deuteronomy 17:14-20), we might even guess that if Israel did not forsake the LORD here, God would have made David the first human king of Israel.

God wanted to make Israel a special treasure to Me above all people… a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6). God wanted to make Israel something special, and they wanted to be just like everyone else.

Themes of 1 Samuel 8:

  • When we resist God, we only hurt ourselves.
  • God gives us what we ask for sometimes even though it’s not good for us to teach us a lesson.
  • Christians are set apart for God and God’s purposes. Don’t be like everyone else.
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BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 8, Day 4: 1 Samuel 7

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Summary of 1 Samuel 7:

The ark of the covenant is now at Kiriath Jearim, guarded by Eleazar. The ark stayed here 20 years until the Israelites rid themselves of foreign gods and Ashtoreths.

All the Israelites gathered at Mizpah where Samuel interceded for them with the Lord. They fasted and confessed their sins. The Philistines, hearing of this gathering, went to Mizpah and attacked. Samuel continued to pray to God and sacrificed a burnt offering. The Lord sent loud thunder, panicking the Philistines. The Israelites routed the Philistines, slaughtering them as they fled beyond Beth Car.

Samuel set a stone to show the Lord helping them. The Philistines did not invade again. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, Israel regained the land taken from them by the Philistines and there was peace with the Amorites. Samuel served as judge all the days of his life, making his home in Ramah.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 8, Day 4: 1 Samuel 7:

9) Part personal question. My answer: Samuel told the Israelites to give up their foreign gods. When they did, he interceded for them with the Lord, offering up burnt sacrifices. He prayed for the people on Israel’s behalf and he served as judge for the people and priest as well. Give up idols and reflect God wherever we are. We need to pray for others and intercede for them with God if need be.

10) They gave up their foreign gods. They confessed their sins. They relied on God when threatened by the Philistines. They had faith. God defeated the Philistines for them and gave them lasting peace. God answered their prayers.

11) In chapter 4, the Israelites demanded God to be with them. They put their faith in the ark, an object, not God. Their hearts were twisted and not fully with the Lord. They were prideful. In chapter 7, they entreated God to be with them. They put their faith in God. They confessed their sins. Their hearts were full of faith. We learn we have to have true faith if we want God to fight our battles for us. We have to ask God, not demand God to help us.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 8, Day 4: 1 Samuel 7:

Once your heart is right for God, He is there. All the pieces come together. He protects and saves and prospers. It’s as simple as believing faith in Him.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 8, Day 4: 1 Samuel 7:

Image result for 1 samuel 7The ark did not rest in the temple; instead, it rested in the house of Abinadab.

For 20 years, the people weren’t right with God. Their cities were in ruins, their armies were defeated, and they were under Philistine domination. They refused to turn to Him.

Where was Samuel for all this time?

God raised up Samuel as a prophet and a judge (1 Samuel 4:1). Yet Samuel was strangely absent from the whole Ark of the Covenant fiasco. 1 Samuel 4:1 is the last place Samuel was mentioned, right before Israel schemed to use the ark as a good luck charm in battle. We don’t know where Samuel was but presumably in training still.

What was important about repenting to the Lord?

Samuel called the nation to repentance.

  • The repentance had to be inward (with all your hearts) and
  • Outward (put away the foreign gods).

The inward was more important than the outward, and it had to come first. That is why Samuel first called Israel to return with all your hearts, then told them to put away the foreign gods.

However, inward repentance is a secret thing. It is hidden. No one can really “see” the heart of another. Yet the inward was proved by the outward. We can know if Israel did return with all your hearts by seeing if they really did put away the foreign gods.

The Israelites were serving two gods and thought they weren’t rejecting him because of this. They felt they only added the worship of other gods to their worship of the LORD. Samuel called on Israel to turn their backs on these other gods and serve Him only.

Baal was attractive because he was thought to be the god of weather, bringing good crops and financial success. Ashtoreth was attractive because she was thought to be the goddess of fertility, thus connected to love and sex.

Why Mizpah?

  • This is where Jacob separated from Laban (Genesis 31:49) and was the gathering place for a repentant Israel in Judges 20:1. This was a place remembered for separation and repentance.
  • This showed the spiritual need Israel felt at the time. They expressed their repentance both by putting away the bad and by pursuing the good.

A ceremonial pouring of water demonstrated the soul poured out before the LORD. It was an expression of emptiness and need. Lamentations 2:19Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord.

Israel also expressed their sorrow over their sin by fasting (a message that nothing else really mattered except getting right with God) and by confession (a straightforward claim of guilt and responsibility).

1 John 1:5-10 makes it clear that confession is vital to maintain relationship with God. As God convicts us of sin or sins that hinder fellowship with Him, we must confess it and receive forgiveness and cleansing for our relationship with God to continue without hindrance.

“We have sinned against the LORD.” This is almost exactly what David said when he was confronted with his sin in 2 Samuel 12:13.

With God fighting for them, Israel was invincible. Small faith in the true and living God is more powerful than strong faith in a lie.

How 1 Samuel 4 is different from 1 Samuel 7:

Image result for 1 samuel 7The last time Israel was in this kind of situation they said, “Let’s get the Ark of the Covenant and take it into battle with us. Then we can’t lose!” Now they are much wiser before the LORD, and instead of trusting in the ark they did the right thing and asked Samuel to cry out to the LORD our God for us.

The battle was won before it began because the LORD answered Samuel.

The Bible speaks of Samuel as a mighty man of prayer: Samuel was among those who called upon His name; they called upon the LORD, and He answered them. (Psalm 99:6)

God not only sent thunder, He also sent confusion to the Philistines and confidence to Israel.

Samuel was:

  • A man of faith
  • A man of peace
  • A man of military prowess
  • A servant
  • A man of prayer
  • A man of hard work
  • A judge
  • A leader

 

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 8, Day 3: 1 Samuel 6

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Summary of 1 Samuel 6:

The priests and the diviners of the Philistines hatch a plan to send the ark of the covenant back to the Israelites: they made gold models as a guilt offering of 5 gold tumors and 5 gold rats in a cart with cows who had never been yoked before. They put the guilt offering and the ark in a cart. If the cart went towards Beth Shemesh, then it was God against them. Otherwise, it was chance.

When the ark returned to the Israelites, they sacrificed the two cows as burnt offerings to God and the large rock they set the ark down upon remained a witness. However, 70 Israelis died because they looked into the ark.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 8, Day 3: 1 Samuel 6:

6) The Philistines knew they had to send a guilt offering to God. By sending gold models, the Philistines hoped to send the originals out of the country as well. They put the objects in a cart and put stipulations on what it meant if the cows went one way or another, thinking the animals would prove it was by chance and not by God all of this happened. We put stipulations and meaning on objects or actions as well and say it means God is with us or it’s His will or not, when in reality we have no clue.

7) The people made a burnt sacrifice to God, using the cows sent over. However, 70 people looked into the ark and God killed them for it since this was against His laws. Believers blatantly disregard Him and His commands such as we see here with looking into the ark of the covenant.

8 ) Personal Question. My answer: God is in control, and He rewards His people when they obey and puts consequences on them when they disobey. As long as I obey, I’m rewarded. When I disobey, I’m not.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 8, Day 3: 1 Samuel 6:

This isn’t exactly an encouraging passage. However, it does make a point: obey God or suffer the consequences.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 8, Day 3: 1 Samuel 6:

The Philistines kept the ark of the covenant for 7 months because they did not want to part with such a trophy. However, ultimately, they had to. It can take a long time before we realize the futility of resisting God.

The Philistine priests had enough sense to know they offended the LORD God. Therefore, they knew they should do something to express their sorrow and repentance before the LORD. We were not told in 1 Samuel 5 that the plague involved rats. Acknowledging God’s judgement is one way to give Him glory.

The Philistines admitted that the God of Israel judged their gods and had jurisdiction over their lands. They confessed that He was Almighty God, yet they did not worship Him instead of their gods. Big mistake.

The testing of God by the Philistines:

The Philistines decide to test God to make sure the plague was sent by Him. The test was stacked against God. Two milk cows which have never been yoked should not pull a cart at all; instead, they should have resisted their yokes. Additionally, the Philistines separated the babies from their mothers. The “maternal instinct” of the cows would draw them not towards the land of Israel, but back home to their own calves. The Philistines devised a test that “forced” the God of Israel to do something miraculous to demonstrate He really was the cause of the plagues.

God never wanted the ark to be transported by a cart. He wanted it to be carried by poles set in rings on the side of the ark (Numbers 4:15).

The ark didn’t have “handles” and was not to be carried by lifting it directly in one’s hands. Instead, it was to be carried by inserting gold-overlaid wood poles into gold rings at each corner of the ark. The poles were to remain inserted in the rings, and to be the source of contact with the ark. Apart from touching the poles, it was forbidden to touch the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:12-15).

Ironic how the Philistines were wise enough not to look in the ark of the covenant and instead placed the models next to it, but the Israelites weren’t.

Image result for 1 samuel 6Of course, the cows showed God’s glory. Two cows who never pulled a cart before with no driver left home and marched the ten miles or so to a city they had never been to. They left their own calves behind and went straight on a certain road, with never a wrong turn, never a stop, never turning aside into the fields to feed themselves, never turning back to feed their own calves. The cows were unhappy about doing God’s will cause they lowed.

The Israelites finally had God back (He had never left them, but in their minds He had).

What the Israelites did right upon the return of the Ark of the Covenant:

  • In a strict sense their offering was against the Mosaic Law. First, they offered female animals to the LORD, which was forbidden (Leviticus 1:322:19). Second, they made a burnt offering to the LORD away from the tabernacle, which violated the command in Deuteronomy 12:5-6. Yet God knew both their hearts and the remarkable circumstances, and He was no doubt honored.
  • The Israelites were careful to let the Levites handle the ark, as was commanded by the law (Numbers 4:1-615). Beth Shemesh was a priestly city (Joshua 21:16), so priests were on hand.

What the Israelites did wrong upon the return of the Ark of the Covenant:

  • The Ark of the Covenant was only to be touched and handled by specific Levites from the family of Kohath, and even they were commanded to not touch the ark itself (Numbers 4:15). The men of Beth Shemesh sinned by not only touching the ark, but also looking into it inappropriately.
  • God dealt with the Israelites more strictly than He dealt with the Philistines who just transported the ark by a cart. God did this because the Israelites, who had His law, should have and did know better. It is sad to consider that the Philistines showed more honor to the holiness of God than the Israelites.

Isaiah 55:8-9 shows this thought: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” We need to respect the fact that God is God and we are not, and there are some things we just will not, and should not, know.

What is the holiness of God?

Holiness means that God is separate, different from His creation, both in His essential nature and in the perfection of His attributes.

Image result for holiness of godWhen Peter saw the holy power of Jesus he said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8). When the disciples on another occasion saw the holy Jesus shining forth at the transfiguration, they were greatly afraid (Matthew 17:6). When we meet the Holy God, we are excited and afraid all at the same time.

Holiness is part of the new man we are in Jesus (Ephesians 4:24), and we are invited to be partakers – sharers of Jesus’ holiness (Hebrews 12:10).

Though God is holy and apart from us, instead of building a wall around His apartness, God calls us to come to Him and share His apartness. As it says in 1 Peter 1:16, God calls us to be holy, for I am holy. Holiness is not so much something we have as much as it is something that has us.

We don’t know why they picked this village. All we know is the men of Kirjath Jearim received the ark and it stayed there for many years until King David brought it to the city of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6).

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

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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.

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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.