A short chapter that tells us of the consequences of the Philistines capturing the ark.
We read in yesterday’s chapter that the symbol of the presence of God of Israel had been taken by their lifelong enemies, the Philistines. Oh how the Philistines must have rejoiced. But were they in for a few surprises…
First they brought the ark to Ashdod where they placed it in the temple before one of their main gods, Dagon.
The next day when they went to the temple to celebrate their victory – their idol god was lying down before the ark of the true God. They put it upright but the next day, it was down again. What was worse, Dagon’s head and hands were broken off!
The ark of God may be in the hands of the Philistines but the god of the Philistines was in the hands of the only true God – the God of Israel!
Before the battle, the Philistines were afraid of God because they had heard of how the God of Israel had inflicted all sorts of plagues onto the Egyptians. After the incident in Dagon’s temple, a plague begins to spread throughout Ashdod. The people thought that the quickest way to get rid of the problem was to send the ark away – to Gath.
But in Gath, the same plague happened. They sent the ark to Ekron and the Philistines now saw the link between the ark and their sufferings. They suspected that the judgment of God was now upon them.
Yet, we do not hear of them renouncing their god, Dagon. They did not cease their idol worship and worship the true God instead.
They just wanted to distance themselves away from Israel’s God.
I was thinking… there are many people who behave like them, including us Christians. When we have sinned and are punished, instead of repenting and turning back to God, we try to run away and push God away. Instead of coming to church, we go further away. Instead of confessing to God, we hope that out of sight, out of mind.
We cannot escape from God and His righteous judgement.