Yuck, yuck, yuck!
1 Samuel 6: Five gold tumors and five gold rats
Not only is the Ark causing problems for the Philistine idol Dagon some bad things are happening in their cities and in the very personal lives of their citizens as well. First, and reminiscent of the plagues of Egypt many years earlier, there’s a rat infestation in the land. These nasty rodents are showing up everywhere and getting into everything. Second, there’s an outbreak of (ahem) hemorrhoids among the population. Knowing what happened to poor old Dagon, and having heard the story of the plagues of Egypt, the leaders of the cities of the Philistines want to let the Chest of God go even as Pharaoh let the Israelites go. Their priests come up with a plan that includes sending a peace offering along with the Ark. What an offering it is: golden replicas of the rats and (get this) the (politely called) “tumors.” Can’t you imagine the look on the faces of the people of Beth Shemesh when they open the bag containing those replicas! It all sounds weird to us, but from the Philistine’s point of view it’s a desperate effort to make peace with the God of Israel. I think people today still do some strange things in an attempt to get on the good side of God. However, it’s unnecessary. God has already built that bridge and all we have to do is “cross it.” (Get it? “Cross” it). No golden rats or tumors are necessary.
Take Away: It doesn’t take golden rats to make peace with God.
Poor old Dagon didn’t have a chance
1 Samuel 5: They were shocked to find Dagon toppled from his place, flat on his face before the Chest of God.
The people of Israel aren’t much more spiritually aware than are the Philistines. When the Israelites get into a difficult battle they think that bringing out the Ark of the Covenant will bring them luck. However, it doesn’t work out that way. They’re soundly defeated and their enemies take the Ark, their most holy relic. Now, the story shifts to the Philistine city of Ashdod, the shrine of the idol Dagon. Someone has the bright idea of putting their new religious prize on display there with their idol. After a bit of rearranging the Ark is in its new place. To their surprise, when they visit the shrine the next morning their Dagon idol has toppled face down before the Ark. “I wonder how that happened?” someone asks in an unsteady voice. Dagon is stood up again. The following morning the priest of Dagon peeks around the corner and it’s happened again! This time, though, poor old Dagon’s in bad shape. His head and arms are broken off and he’s once again bowing before the Ark. Something has to be done and the decision is made, not to start worshipping the God of the Ark, but to get rid of it so that they can patch up poor old Dagon and prop him up back in his place again. It sounds dumb and in a sense it is. Still, they believe in national gods and the God of Israel, in their thinking, can never be theirs. The Chest has to go. As I read this interesting account I’m reminded that everything in my life must ultimately yield to God Almighty. Also, God isn’t a good luck charm. He’s the real deal and he insists that I live in a relationship with him.
Take Away: Ultimately everything in my life must bow before the Lord.