1 Samuel 6:1-21 - The Return of the Ark
1 Peter 2:6-8; Matthew 27:15-22; 1 Samuel 6:1ff
A. The Return of the Ark (6:1-21)
1. The Rebellious Response: What to do with the Ark (6:1-2)
a) The Ark was in the country of the Philistines for Seven Months (v.1) why?
1) They Were Resisting God. Because they were reluctant to give up such a wonderful “trophy” of what they at first felt was such a victory over the God of Israel. It can take a long time before we realize the futility of resisting God. The Spirit of God can Be:
(a) Resisted (Acts 6:9-10; 7:51); grieved (Eph.4:39); quenched (1Thess.5:19)
(b) Insulted (Heb.10:29); lied to and tested (Acts 5:3-4, 9); blasphemed (Matt.12:31-32)
(c) We should submit to God and resist the Devil (James 4:7-10).
b) The Philistines called for the Priests & Diviners (v.2)
1) Occult Practices: A Diviner is “one who practices divination”. The Harry Potter Website Encourages Occult practices, such as:
(a) Fortune-telling, witchcraft, magic, sorcery, wizardry, palm reading, joujy board,
(b) Omen (a sign used by magicians and fortune tellers to predict future events),
(c) Necromancy (the practice of communicating with the spirits of the dead in order to predict the future), casting spells, divination techniques, charms, potions, transfiguration, dark arts, and medical magic.
2) What Does God Say About These Practices?
(a) God commanded His people to keep themselves from cultic practices (Ex. 20:3–5).
(b) Attempting to control evil spirits were expressly forbidden (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). Among These Practices Were:
1. Eating & drinking blood (Lev. 19:26) & rounding off their hair and beards (v.27; 21:5)
2. Slashing their body for the dead (Lev.19:28; 1 Kings 18:28) & or for their god.
3. Boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk (Deut. 14:21) hoping that fertility and productivity would be increased (cf. Ex. 23:19; 34:26).
4. Worshiping idols (Deut. 7:1-11, 25; 12:2–3), sacrificing children (Lev. 20:2), participating in homosexuality and temple prostitution (Lev. 19:29).
5. Balaam was such a “soothsayer” or “diviner” (Num 22:7; 23:23; Josh 13:22).
6. Saul commanded the woman at En-dor to “divine” for him with (1 Sam 28:8).
7. 2 Kings 17:17, a list of Israelite offenses which prompted God to exile them.
c) What Are We Going To Do With The Ark (v.2b)? Instead of turning to the Lord they turned their back on the Lord not wanting anything to do with Him.
1) They Were Not Willing To Deal With The Reason For Their Disease And Difficulty.
(a) They wanted relief from the disease, but they didn’t want to get to the root of the disease. In our culture today we spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a vaccine for aids; we want to get rid of the disease but not deal with the root and real cause for the disease.
(b) These People Did Not Want The Re-Procution Of: worshipping their god Dagon and rejecting the Lord, they just want to get rid of the pain of the disease, but they don’t really want the Lord (John 3:18-20).
2. The Continued Rebellious Response (6:3-9)
a) By All Means Don’t Send It Back Empty, Return It With A Trespass Offering (v.3-6).
1) The World Knows That God Has A Sacrificial System. The Philistine priests knew enough to know they have offended the LORD God. Therefore, they know they should do something to expresses their sorrow and their way of repentance before the LORD.
b) Five golden tumors and five golden rats (v.4-5):
1) They Recognized That It Was The Lord Who Brought The Plague Upon The Philistines.
(a) They were saying, “We know these plagues were not accidents. We know the LORD God of Israel has caused them. We are apologizing to the LORD God and asking Him to turn away His anger.”
1. We know the plague involved tumors (1 Samuel 5:6, 9, 12). We had not been told in 1 Samuel 5 that the plague involved rats. Some think the tumors were the result of bubonic plague, carried by rats. Others think the rats were part of another plague or calamity mentioned in 1 Samuel 5:11: For there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
2. “Verse 4, by linking tumors, rats, and plague, strengthens the theory that the tumors were symptoms of bubonic plague spread by an infestation of rats, which, like human invaders, were capable of destroying a country.” (Youngblood)
c) If you do this, Perhaps He will lighten His hand from you (v.5)
1) The World Knows That God Is A God Of Grace
(a) In (5:6,7,9,11) tells that the “hand of God was heavy.”
(b) God’s Hand Was Heavy Upon David When He Had un-confessed Sin (Psalm 32:1-5)
1. Unconfessed sin can literally have physical effects on the body (Ps.38:2-8).
2. But when there is confession there is healing and forgiveness:
He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy (Prov.28:13)
(c) Either way they wanted to “send the ark away” (v.3)
1. Men begged Jesus to leave their city after casting out demons (Matthew 8:28-31)
2. Men of Nazareth wanted to throw Jesus off a cliff (Luke 4:29)
3. As for me and my household we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15)
3. The Danger of Hardening The Heart (v.6)
a) Their Advice: don’t harden Your Hearts Toward God (v.6). The Philistines remembered that no good comes to anyone when they harden their heart against the Lord.
1) Remember What Happened To The Egyptians? They were smitten by ten different plagues. Every time they hardened their heart against God, it got worse, so learn from them!
(a) God began to work miracles before the Pharaoh, Pharaoh hardened his heart, then God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Ex.9:1-5,12)
1. The Hebrew word used for hardened when it declared that God hardened the heart of the Pharaoh, is different than when Pharaoh hardened his heart. When God hardened his heart the word literally means, “made stiff the heart of Pharaoh”.
(b) You can over and over again harden your heart to the things of God but there finally comes the day when God will step in and make stiff your resolve against Him (Romans 1:28).
(c) John 12:39—It is possible for you to come to a place where you “cannot believe”.
(d) That means that you will be hopelessly and irretrievably lost.
2) The Danger Of Hardening The Heart (Hebrews 3:7-19)
(a) It is possible that you are on the path to committing the unpardonable sin. God warned before sending the flood that destroyed the earth that His Spirit will not always strive with man.
(b) In the days of Noah, man had gone too far in His blasphemies against God. Our society is approaching that place once again.
(c) Once a man has committed the unpardonable sin I believe that God takes his life from him. Why? Because there is no purpose in his continued existence.
(d) As Jesus said concerning the fruitless tree, cut it down (Luke 13:1-9)
3) Where is your heart?
(a) The same events that opened some eyes only made other eyes blind (John 9:39-41)
(b) The same message can harden a heart or soften a heart (the thieves on the cross—one saved the other damned)
b) 1 Samuel 6:6—Hardness of heart is a terrible place for any Christian. The Philistines had the sense to ask the question, why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts?
1) Do Christians today have the sense to ask themselves the same question? Hosea 10:12 speaks to our hardened, fallow hearts: Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.
4. The Philistines Conduct An Experiment (6:7-12).
a) Take two milk cows which have never been yoked (v.7).
1) The World Knows That God Is A Supernatural God.
(a) By nature, two milk cows which have never been yoked should not pull a cart at all, but they should have resisted their yokes.
(b) Additionally, they decided to take their calves home, away from them. The “maternal instinct” of the cows would have drawn them not towards the land of Israel, but back home to their own calves.
b) Take the Ark of the Lord and set it on the cart (v.8-11)
1) The Ark Was Never To Be Transported By A Cart (Num.4:15)
(a) It was forbidden to touch the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:12-15)
(b) Uzzah touched the Ark to keep it from falling & God struck him dead (2Sam.6:6-7)
(c) In light of God’s command, and punishment against Uzzah, why did God allow the Philistines to carry the Ark by a cart without severe judgment upon them? Because of ignorance of His law
c) The cows headed straight…and did not turn aside to the right hand or the left (v.12)
1) The Cows Even Obeyed God… “lowing as they went”!
(a) This means that the cows were not especially happy. They were longing for their calves at home but they still did the will of God!
1. The book of proverbs tells us not to “turn to the right hand of or the left” (Prov.4:27)
2. We must be careful to walk in God’s ways not turning away (Deut.5:32-33)
3. The words of Joshua (1:7-9)
5. The thanksgiving of the people of Beth-shemesh (v.13-18)
6. The Tragedy (v.19-21)