Obey all God’s commands – Deuteronomy 5:32
The Philistines Capture the Ark
1 Samuel 5:1-5
The war between the Israelites and Philistines was epic. 1 Samuel 4:10 states that the slaughter was great and that 30,000 Israelites fell in battle in one day. Survivors of the battle fled, the chief priests sons died, and the Ark of the Covenant of God was captured. When hearing that the Ark was captured, Eli, the chief priest, fell off of his chair and broke his neck and died. His daughter-in-law, pregnant and widowed, went into labor when she heard all of the terrible news; she then named her son Ichabod, meaning Where is the Glory? It is clear that Israel was not in a good relationship with God; they had indeed lost the glory.
The Philistines, joyous of their victory, took the Ark of God to the city of Ashdod and placed it in the temple of their false god, Dagon. This made a statement: claiming that Dagon had defeated the Hebrew God and was a prisoner or gift for Dagon. They did not realize that it is impossible to hold the God of Israel captive, much less have him as a defeated prisoner. The next morning, when the citizens of the city came to see (perhaps to mock or celebrate?), they found the statue of Dagon flat on his face, bowing down to the Ark of God. Imagine their surprise. Still not seeing the truth, they put the idol upright again and left the temple. When they came back the next day, their god was not only face down again but his head and hands were cut off. It was custom in some cultures in those days to cut off an enemy’s hands to show his weakness and make him powerless. The removal of the head symbolized death.
The Philistines thought by capturing the Ark of God they had defeated the God of Israel. God made a statement, much louder and more clearer than the one the Philistines tried to make.
God is all powerful, alive, and unconquerable. No idol can come close to compare.
In our culture today people mock God, celebrate evil, and worship false gods. We may even wonder, at times, where is the Glory? God’s actions in this passage remind us that He is victorious.
God is the one and only true God. He is God alone. Let that encourage you.