Bible: 1 Samuel 5-7

The Ark Causes Trouble for the Philistines

5:1 Now the Philistines had captured the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 5:2 The Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the temple of Dagon, where they positioned it beside Dagon. 5:3 When the residents of Ashdod got up early the next day, 1  Dagon was lying on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and set him back in his place. 5:4 But when they got up early the following day, Dagon was again lying on the ground before the ark of the Lord. The head of Dagon and his two hands were sheared off and were lying at the threshold. Only Dagon’s body was left intact. 2  5:5 (For this reason, to this very day, neither Dagon’s priests nor anyone else who enters Dagon’s temple step on Dagon’s threshold in Ashdod.)

5:6 The Lord attacked 3  the residents of Ashdod severely, bringing devastation on them. He struck the people of 4  both Ashdod and the surrounding area with sores. 5  5:7 When the people 6  of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel should not remain with us, for he has attacked 7  both us and our god Dagon!

5:8 So they assembled 8  all the leaders of the Philistines and asked, “What should we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” They replied, “The ark of the God of Israel should be moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.

5:9 But after it had been moved the Lord attacked 9  that city as well, causing a great deal of panic. He struck all the people of that city 10  with sores. 11  5:10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron.

But when the ark of God arrived at Ekron, the residents of Ekron cried out saying, “They have brought the ark of the God of Israel here 12  to kill our 13  people! 5:11 So they assembled 14  all the leaders of the Philistines and said, “Get the ark of the God of Israel out of here! Let it go back to its own place so that it won’t kill us 15  and our 16  people!” The terror 17  of death was throughout the entire city; God was attacking them very severely there. 18  5:12 The people 19  who did not die were struck with sores; the city’s cry for help went all the way up to heaven.

The Philistines Return the Ark

6:1 When the ark of the Lord had been in the land 20  of the Philistines for seven months, 21  6:2 the Philistines called the priests and the omen readers, saying, “What should we do with the ark of the Lord? Advise us as to how we should send it back to its place.”

6:3 They replied, “If you are going to send the ark of 22  the God of Israel back, don’t send it away empty. Be sure to return it with a guilt offering. Then you will be healed, and you will understand why his hand is not removed from you.” 6:4 They inquired, “What is the guilt offering that we should send to him?

They replied, “The Philistine leaders number five. So send five gold sores and five gold mice, for it is the same plague that has afflicted both you and your leaders. 6:5 You should make images of the sores and images of the mice 23  that are destroying the land. You should honor the God of Israel. Perhaps he will release his grip on you, your gods, and your land. 24  6:6 Why harden your hearts like the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? 25  When God 26  treated them harshly, didn’t the Egyptians send the Israelites on their way? 27  6:7 So now go and make a new cart. Get two cows that have calves and that have never had a yoke placed on them. Harness the cows to the cart and take their calves from them back to their stalls. 6:8 Then take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart, and put in a chest beside it the gold objects you are sending to him as a guilt offering. You should then send it on its way. 6:9 But keep an eye on it. If it should go up by the way of its own border to Beth Shemesh, then he has brought this great calamity on us. But if that is not the case, then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us; rather, it just happened to us by accident.”

6:10 So the men did as instructed. 28  They took two cows that had calves and harnessed them to a cart; they also removed their calves to their stalls. 6:11 They put the ark of the Lord on the cart, along with the chest, the gold mice, and the images of the sores. 6:12 Then the cows went directly on the road to Beth Shemesh. They went along, mooing as they went; they turned neither to the right nor to the left. The leaders of the Philistines were walking along behind them all the way to the border of Beth Shemesh.

6:13 Now the residents of Beth Shemesh were harvesting wheat in the valley. When they looked up and saw the ark, they were pleased at the sight. 6:14 The cart was coming to the field of Joshua, who was from Beth Shemesh. It paused there near a big stone. Then they cut up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 6:15 The Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the chest that was with it, which contained the gold objects. They placed them near the big stone. At that time the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices to the Lord. 6:16 The five leaders of the Philistines watched what was happening and then returned to Ekron on the same day.

6:17 These are the gold sores that the Philistines brought as a guilt offering to the Lordone for each of the following cities: Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron. 6:18 The gold mice corresponded in number to all the Philistine cities of the five leaders, from the fortified cities to hamlet villages, to greater Abel, 29  where they positioned the ark of the Lord until this very day in the field of Joshua who was from Beth Shemesh.

6:19 But the Lord 30  struck down some of the people of Beth Shemesh because they had looked into the ark of the Lord; he struck down 50,070 31  of the men. The people grieved because the Lord had struck the people with a hard blow. 6:20 The residents of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? To whom will the ark 32  go up from here?”

6:21 So they sent messengers to the residents of Kiriath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down here and take it back home with you.”

7:1 Then the people 33  of Kiriath Jearim came and took the ark of the Lord; they brought it to the house of Abinadab located on the hill. They consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the Lord.

Further Conflict with the Philistines

7:2 It was quite a long time – some twenty years in all – that the ark stayed at Kiriath Jearim. All the people 34  of Israel longed for 35  the Lord. 7:3 Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you are really turning to the Lord with all your hearts, remove from among you the foreign gods and the images of Ashtoreth. 36  Give your hearts to the Lord and serve only him. Then he will deliver you 37  from the hand of the Philistines.” 7:4 So the Israelites 38  removed the Baals and images of Ashtoreth. They served only the Lord.

7:5 Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord on your behalf.” 7:6 After they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. They fasted on that day, and they confessed 39  there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” So Samuel led 40  the people of Israel at Mizpah.

7:7 When the Philistines heard that the Israelites had gathered at Mizpah, the leaders of the Philistines went up against Israel. When the Israelites heard about this, they were afraid of the Philistines. 7:8 The Israelites said to Samuel, “Keep 41  crying out to the Lord our 42  God so that he may save us 43  from the hand of the Philistines! 7:9 So Samuel took a nursing lamb 44  and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. Samuel cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.

7:10 As Samuel was offering burnt offerings, the Philistines approached to do battle with Israel. 45  But on that day the Lord thundered loudly against the Philistines. He caused them to panic, and they were defeated by 46  Israel. 7:11 Then the men of Israel left Mizpah and chased the Philistines, striking them down all the way to an area below Beth Car.

7:12 Samuel took a stone and placed it between Mizpah and Shen. 47  He named it Ebenezer, 48  saying, “Up to here the Lord has helped us.” 7:13 So the Philistines were defeated; they did not invade Israel again. The hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.

7:14 The cities that the Philistines had captured from Israel were returned to Israel, from Ekron to Gath. Israel also delivered their territory from the control 49  of the Philistines. There was also peace between Israel and the Amorites. 7:15 So Samuel led 50  Israel all the days of his life. 7:16 Year after year he used to travel the circuit of Bethel, 51  Gilgal, and Mizpah; he used to judge Israel in all of these places. 7:17 Then he would return to Ramah, because his home was there. He also judged 52  Israel there and built an altar to the Lord there.

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