Reading: 1 Samuel Chapters 5 & 6
I Samuel 5:11 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
This is one of the most unusual and fascinating stories in the Old Testament. The children of Israel were spiritually away from the Lord. They were attacked by the Philistines. When they thought they would be beaten, they sent for the ark of the covenant. Its arrival brought temporary excitement. They were quickly defeated losing 30,000 men and the ark was taken.
Why were they defeated? Why didn’t having the ark of the covenant ensure victory? The reason is simple. The ark was a picture of Gods presence on Israel. The issue was they had forsaken God a long time ago. To them the ark was a relic or good luck charm to force God to help them succeed. God doesn’t work that way. He fights for those who humbly seek Him as king David did.
The Philistines realized quickly that the ark had great power associated with it. Their “god” was destroyed by it, the men of different cities were cursed by a plague, and someone opened the ark and 50,070 men were killed. They realized the God of the ark was powerful. They went about as quickly as possible to get the ark back to where it belonged. They even brought gifts to God when returning the ark.
We can observe several things from the story. 1. The presence of God has power. The Philistines realized this power was not to be trifled with. It is sad that the lost were the ones who held the ark in more esteem than Gods people. 2. The blessing from Gods presence would have been available to them if they had repented and turned back to God. 3. The same power that was associated with that ark lives inside us if we have trusted Jesus as our savior. Satan wants us to be defeated and discouraged so we don’t access the power of God inside us. He knows that if we access it, God can change the world around us through us. Romans 8:37 says, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” Today, lets recognize the Holiness of the God who lives in us, yield to his will, and ask Him to accomplish great things through us.