The Hand of the Lord

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

1 Samuel 5:6 (NIV)
The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors.

1 Samuel 5:6 (MSG)
God was hard on the citizens of Ashdod. He devastated them by hitting them with tumors. This happened in both the town and the surrounding neighborhoods. He let loose rats among them. Jumping from ships there, rats swarmed all over the city! And everyone was deathly afraid.
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“Then the hand of the Lord was heavy on the people of Ashdod, and He caused them to be dumbfounded and struck them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory.” -AMPLIFIED

Our focus today will be on the hand of the Lord and as we can see from our text it was heavy on the people of Philista. In fact, in this one account, where we read about the Ark being among the Philistines, we will find that the hand of the Lord was heavy on them three times. Reference is made in verses 6, 9 and 11. Each time it was because of their arrogance and presumption toward God. God is about to give them a demonstration of His great power.

(You may notice that the Message Version makes reference to God letting rats loose among the Philistines and the NIV, nor the Amplified make reference to this. Both translations actually make reference to the rats in their footnotes though: NIV-“Hebrew; Septuagint and Vulgate tumors. And rats appeared in their land, and there was death and destruction throughout the city.” AMPLIFIED-“It is possible that this was a type of bubonic plague or infection spread by rats (or fleas hosted by rats).”

We will be focusing on the hand of God and the demonstration of His great power among the Philistines. We should notice that the Hand of God was not only heavy on their false god, but also upon them. Dagon lost his head and his hands (or arms) which was testament and confirmation that Dagon had no wisdom or power, but Jehovah, the God of Israel did.

The hand of God was heavy on the people also. In Ashdod we find God devastating them with tumors, some translations say emerods or hemorrhoids. Josephus refers to this ailment as dysentery or bloody flux. Whatever you think it was we do know that it had a devastating effect on the people of Ashdod. So much so that they decided that they needed to send the Ark away before they were wiped out; for everyone was deathly afraid.

“When the leaders of Ashdod saw what was going on, they decided, “The chest of the god of Israel has got to go. We can’t handle this, and neither can our god Dagon.” They called together all the Philistine leaders and put it to them: “How can we get rid of the chest of the god of Israel?” The leaders agreed: “Move it to Gath.” So they moved the Chest of the God of Israel to Gath.” -1 Samuel 5:7-8 (MSG)

Basically, we cannot deal with this problem or handle it, so let’s send it to our neighbors; maybe they can. Once the Ark arrived in Gath it had the same devastating affect and the people were in a panic. (Notice, the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them also.) “But it happened that after they had taken it to Gath, the hand of the Lord was against the city, causing an extremely great panic [because of the deaths from the plague], for He struck the people of the city, both young and old, and tumors broke out on them.” -1 Samuel 5:9 (AMP)

The people of Gath were in such a state of hysteria and dread that they insisted that the Ark be removed from their city before they were all dead. So the Ark took another trip; this time to Ekron. The people of Ekron were appalled. Their response to the arrival of the Ark was as follows, “So they sent the Chest of God on to Ekron, but as the Chest was being brought into town, the people shouted in protest, “You’ll kill us all by bringing in this Chest of the God of Israel!” -1 Samuel 5:10 (MSG)

The people of Ekron are not about to allow the devastation that had hit Ashdod and Gath hit them. They call all the Philistine leaders together and basically say, “Get this thing out of here!” A decision to move it must not have come quickly enough; for we are told in verse 11-12 that, “… the hand of God was very heavy (severe) there. The men who had not died were stricken with tumors and the cry of the city [for help] went up to heaven.” (AMP)

We can definitely get an understanding of the wrath of God hitting the people of Ekron from the Message Version, “They called the Philistine leaders together and demanded, “Get it out of here, this Chest of the God of Israel. Send it back where it came from. We’re threatened with mass death!” For everyone was scared to death when the Chest of God showed up. God was already coming down very hard on the place. Those who didn’t die were hit with tumors. All over the city cries of pain and lament filled the air.” -1 Samuel 5:11-12 (MSG)

God will not allow Himself to be treated with insolence or contempt. The Philistines now have had a taste of the POWER OF THE ONE TRUE GOD! The Apostle Paul reminded the Galatians of this fact too. “Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.” -Galatians 6:7-8 (MSG)

Let us be careful to give God the honor and respect that He deserves.

My Prayer:
Lord, I have seen your power at work and I know that you are not pleased when you are treated with contempt or insolence. Help me to keep that proper respect that I need to have for you. Yes, you are my Heavenly Father, but you are also the Righteous Judge. Let my attitude toward you be one of humility and deference. God, I humbly acknowledge your greatness and power.

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