Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
1 Samuel 6:1-2 (NIV)
When the ark of the Lord had been in Philistine territory seven months, the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it back to its place.”
1 Samuel 6:1-2 (MSG)
After the Chest of God had been among the Philistine people for seven months, the Philistine leaders called together their religious professionals, the priests, and experts on the supernatural for consultation: “How can we get rid of this Chest of God, get it off our hands without making things worse? Tell us!”
“Now the ark of the Lord had been in the country of the Philistines for seven months. And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners (seers), saying, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Let us know how we can send it back to its place.” -AMPLIFIED
The Ark stayed in the land of the Philistine’s for seven long months! This was seven months too long,actually. And we must ask ourselves, “What took so long?”. Why in the world did they allow themselves to suffer so long? The answer can only be because of their pride. To send the Ark back to Israel would be too admit that Israel’s God was stronger than their god. It would be admitting defeat not only to Israel, but to themselves. They would have to acknowledge that they could not stand against Jehovah. Their admitting this would be humiliating.
After those seven long months and seeing the havoc and devastation that had come upon themselves, the leaders finally called for their own priests and mystics to come up with an answer. Enough was enough, it was time to get rid of the Ark. Wisely they chose to send it back to where it had come from, but they wanted to do so without making things any worse.
The priests and experts on the supernatural insisted that the Ark could not just be sent back, but it also needed to have some form of retribution or remittal sent with it. This would be a compensation for taking the Ark in the first place. “They said, “If you’re going to send the Chest of the God of Israel back, don’t just dump it on them. Pay compensation. Then you will be healed. After you’re in the clear again, God will let up on you. Why wouldn’t he?” -1 Samuel 6:3 (MSG)
What is extremely bizarre and baffling is that after the Almighty God, Jehovah, had shown the Philistines His great power they still chose to continue to serve Dagon. And they decided to send the Ark of God back to Israel. After seeing the mighty power of the One, True God one would have thought they would have sought Him out and worshiped Him. Sadly, that was not the case. These people were too stuck in their traditions and rituals to see the Truth that was standing right in front of them.
The decision has been made, send the Ark back. Pay this God some sort of compensation for their guilt, a guilt offering. But the question was made; what should the compensation be? The answer from the priests and mystics was a bit strange, “They answered, “Five golden tumors and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords (governors) of the Philistines, for one plague was on all of you and on your lords.” -1 Samuel 6:4 (AMP)
There were five rats to represent the five cities that had been devastated and five tumors to represent the five leaders of those cities. (Sounds very gross.) The Amplified Bible has this footnote to help us understand things a bit more:
“It was customary in some ancient cultures to make replicas of injured or diseased body parts as offerings to gods for healing. These were called votive offerings. Moreover, worshipers of pagan gods often were not adverse to acknowledging the existence of other, powerful gods outside their own cultures, and in this case the exploits of the God who was inflicting their punishment were already well known (v 6). -AMPLIFIED
Ironically, these religious leaders showed a little bit of intelligence and understanding when they urged the leaders of the cities to be careful of offending Jehovah by hardening their hearts. (Remember, God’s reputation had gone before Him!)“Why then do you harden your hearts [allowing pride to cause your downfall] just as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He had severely dealt with them and mocked them, did they not allow the people [of Israel] to go, and they departed?” -1 Samuel 6:6 (AMP)
Pride can make us do some pretty foolish things. In this case, the pagan priests were warning their civic leaders to beware of falling into the same trap that the Pharaoh had fallen into, pride. Remember these words that Solomon penned in Proverbs 16:18?
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” -(AMP)
“First pride, then the crash—the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” -(MSG)
“Pride precedes a disaster, and an arrogant attitude precedes a fall.” -(GW)
Do not let pride keep you in a vicious cycle, as it did the Philistines. Remember, selfish pride is one of the seven deadly sins mentioned in Proverbs 6:16-19 that the Lord hates.
The writer of Psalm 10 also speaks out against this selfish pride. The whole Psalm is filled with a very graphic picture of their self-confidence, ego and supremacy and how God will bring them low. It would be good to take the time to read the whole chapter, but here are a few verses that totally convey the point,
“The wicked are windbags, the swindlers have foul breath. The wicked snub God, their noses stuck high in the air. Their graffiti are scrawled on the walls: “Catch us if you can!” “God is dead.” They care nothing for what you think; if you get in their way, they blow you off. They live (they think) a charmed life: “We can’t go wrong. This is our lucky year!” -Psalm 10:3-6 (MSG)
Beware of the sin of pride.
Lord, help me not to get caught up in the sin of pride. It is so easy to fall into pride. In humility I ask that you be first in my life. Help me to seek you always in spirit and in truth. Remove the root of pride in me and instead let me be proud of who YOU are. Father God, I will worship you for who you are and what you have done in me; for I am nothing without you, dear Lord.