The Philistines finally, after seven months of being plagued with tumors and mice, decide to get rid of the ark. Their Philistine priests and diviners give the lords of the Philistines a plan to test whether this is God’s doing or merely a coincidence. They yoke two previously unyoked milk cows and place a guilt offering in their bags and load them up with the ark and send them off. The cows head straight to the Israelites’ territory. The Israelites at Beth-shemesh offer the cows and the offering to God, and yet some of them are afflicted as well. So, they ask Kiriath-jearim to take the ark, and they consecrate a man to be in charge of it. And the Israelites lament after the Lord.
The Philistines, the Lord, the priests and diviners of the Philistines, the Egyptians and Pharoah, the people of Beth-shemesh, the Levites in Beth-shemesh, seventy men of Beth-shemesh afflicted for looking on the ark of the Lord, the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, Abinadab, the house of Israel.
6:6 “Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had dealt severely with them, did they not send the people away, and they departed?”
7:2 “From that day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.”
Exodus 14:17-18 “And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
Exodus 8:15, 32 “But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord had said…But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go.”
Exodus 7:13 “Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.”
Exodus 9:6-7, 34-35 “And the next day the Lord did this thing All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one of the livestock of the people of Israel died. And Pharaoh sent, and behold, but not one of the livestock of Israel was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go…But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants. So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people of Israel go, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses.”
Exodus 10:1 “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.””
Exodus 12:31 “Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said.”
The fame of God’s judgment in Egypt is known far and wide, and the Philistines realize that they are acting in the same manner. It is too bad that with Samson, and again with this encounter, it does not turn them to repentance, but merely to fear. They push God away. We often want the pain and suffering to go away from people, but it can be an opportunity God is providing for repentance. I pray that we would share the love of Jesus Christ, his redeeming love, his forgiveness, and his mercy with those people suffering around us. They need that far more than relief from their immediate sufferings. Too many people are going to hell with leaden hearts, too hardened against God. Let us be part of the softening process even though that may seem hard to some people.
As we are toilet training Davy I do not want him to be scared. But his perception that I am not taking care of him is just not true. I am doing right by him by teaching him how to take care of himself in this way. In the same way, we are doing right by people in showing them the way to Christ even when it is a stumbling block and offense to them. (Let me add here, our method of showing them should not be the offense, but Christ is the rock of offense. We should remain loving, we cannot pass judgment, as we discussed before, for we deserve hell just as much as anyone else. The difference is only that we already have mercy and forgiveness, so we must share that joy and relief.)
Jesus in the Old Testament
“Through bitter experience, the Philistines learn that God is not to be trifled with, and they determine to “give glory [weight] to the God of Israel” (v. 5). The Israelites, by contrast, apparently still need to learn this lesson, as they greet the Philistines’ return of the ark by looking upon it (or perhaps “inside it”; v. 19)! Only a “great blow” brings them to their senses regarding their act of desecration and reminds them that it is no small thing to “stand before the Lord, this holy God” (vv. 19-20). Even sincere actions can be presumptuous, if done in neglect of what God has explicitly said (cf. another story of the ark in 2 Sam. 6:1-11). Depending on our wisdom rather than God’s is yet another way in which we make human ability or acumen a substitute for trust in his provision.”*
It is important to remember what God says. If we truly think that something God has told us is important we should remember to do that. I had a routine in Lebanon of Quiet Time, but as we returned to America that routine was shaken. I knew God was saying not to feel guilty and burdened, but I also knew that He had not changed his Will for me to have Quiet Time, and to be committed to it. So, I had to work toward what God had told me to do because I already could recognize the negative impact of not having Quiet Time on my relationships, my well being, my pregnancy, my motivation to do anything else, etc. I didn’t have to get tumors to realize that I was no longer giving God the weight He deserved. So, as I work to restore a Quiet Time, the routine might change as far as time of day, but I know I must go back to the guidelines God gave me before. I cannot just create a new version of Quiet Time that will fit my desires or lifestyle because that will just be listening to Christian radio when I drive. It will not deepen my faith or get me to where God wants even though there are other people who this is the point they are at in their faith. It is important to review what God has told us in the past. Whether you journal, or just have notes for important things from God, review them every now and then to see if you are following through with what God has told you.
2 Samuel 6:1-11 “David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark. And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.”
“Our calling as followers of Christ is not merely to be sincere (cf. Prov. 21:2) but to be attentive and obedient to God’s revealed Word (cf. Deut. 12:8-11), and to live out lives trusting the God of that Word. For this is the same God who sent his own Son as a sacrifice for our sins. If he did that, how could we not trust him in all other matters (Rom. 8:32)?”*
Proverbs 21:2 “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weights the heart.”
Deuteronomy 12:8-11 “”You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes, for you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the Lord your God is giving you. But when you go over the Jordan and live in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and when he gives you rest from all your enemies around, so that you live in safety, then to the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to the Lord.”
Romans 8:31-32 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.
Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please take a moment to leave a comment to share them with us.
Next Week: 1 Samuel 7:3-17
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