In our previous part we have studied 1 Sam 4 and have gathered 2 lessons regarding the capture of the Ark

1.  It is God who has the power, not the Ark
2. God uses the incident to execute his judgement on Eli and his house

As a recap, the capture of the Ark is broken up from 1 Sam 4-7.

1 Sam 4: 1-11- : The war between Israel and Philistines, the Ark of God was captured
1 Sam 4:12-22 : The Death of Eli and the Birth of Ichabod
1 Sam 5: The Ark of God in Ashod , Gath, Ekron, Plagues and Death followed
1 Sam 6:1-19 : The Ark Of God return to Beth Shemesh, Israelites struck dead
1 Sam 6:20 – 1 sam 7:1 : The Ark in Kirjath Jearim (20 Years)
1 Sam 7:2-17 : Samuel judges, Israel repented, war against Philistines won

Now 1 Sam 5 talks about the Ark of God after its capture by the Philistines in order to understand the story better, a few background facts should be taken into consideration

Facts: The Philistines Culture Is More Advance Than The Israelites

I believe i shared that when we are reading about the armies of Israel, we should not imagine that the armies of the Philistines and Israel are technologically on par. In fact, the Israelites were the once which are backwards.

The Philistines are known as the “Sea Peoples” and they travelled by boat from the Aegean sea, they are a iron age civilizations where the rest of the Israelites are still in their stone age and bronze age. This is most evidently recorded in 1 Sam13

“Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears.” But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man’s plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle;” – Samuel  (1 Sam 13:19-20)

Facts: Capturing The gods Of A Defeated Nation Is A Sign Of Victory

In Ancient warfare,  as a trophy of victory, the victorious nation will take the idol of the gods of the nation they have conquered and place them in the temple of their gods as a act to show that their god is more powerful.

This can be seen a few times from the bible, such as this

“Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim and Hena and Ivah? Indeed, have they delivered Samaria from my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’” – Rabshakeh (2 King 18:33-35)

Nebuchadnezzar also carried off some of the articles from the house of the Lord to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon:” – Author of Chronicles (2 chron 36:7)

This is the reason why the Philistines took the Captured Ark and place them into the temple of their God Dagon and set it up besides it. In fact they are treating it.

Lesson 1 : The Falling Of Dagon , and the Plagues Of Tumours

Strangely, the next day. the Philistine awoke and found their God fallen on it face to the ground, before the Ark. When they set it in place again, this time it fell and has it arms and head broken off.

There was also a plagues 1 Sam 5:6 tells us that the people are struck with tumours. there are some version which indicated that the rats sprang up at as well.

As the result, the philistines passed the ark around their cities of Ashod, Gath and Ekron until non of the cities dared to take the ark in.

If we were to look at second fact, that housing the Ark in the temple of the Dagon indicated that Dagon is more powerful than YHWH. In order to teach the Philistines that the reason why they could capture the ark of God , is because God wills it so, God made the Ark a plagues in the land of the Philistines.

The fact that Dagon had to fall headlong against the Ark sends a strong message to the Philistines that their god is not God at all. And plaguing the people is a way of telling the people that their gods are unable to protect them from the God of the Hebrews.

This is similar to the plagues God send to Egypt, and each of the plagues are targeted at the gods of the Egyptians.

The Philistines finds that they are unable to keep the "God” of the Hebrews a captive in their land, in fact, they attempted to do so for 7 months (1 Sam 6:1)

Finally they decided to send the ark back to Israel and they finally realised that they have offended God.

In our present lives, do we still remember that God is all powerful? Sometimes the modern churches focus so much on the love and mercy of God that they have forgotten that God is a judge as well. and that God deserves our reverence. He is God above everything.

Therefore, let us learn to differentiate God from the gods of this earth.