Writing out loud, which is what writers do, right?
Momentum from chapter 1 brought me up to where the Israelites and the Philistines were squared off. I camped there, in the canyon between chapter 4 on one end, chapter 5 in the middle, and chapter 6 at the other end. The Philistines were riled up, and went out to meet the men from Israel in the field. The Philistines were brutal; 4,000 men from Israel died that day.
Before the second battle, the Israelites brought up the ark of the Lord, from Shiloh. The Israelites embraced a great deal of confidence that with the ark of the Lord, the Israelites would surely be victors over the brutal Philistines.
What was supposed to happen . . . didn’t happen. The Philistines met the men from Israel, again, in the field, and defeated Israel, again. The field was bloody from the 30,000 men from Israel that died that day. It seemed fitting, apparently, for the Philistines to bring this ark of God into the “House of Dagon” and present it to their own god, “Dagon”.
The Philistines god, DAGON, was not a person, but a man-made idol, also known as the “fish god”. To the left is a colored engraving of “Dagon”, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagon
The next morning servants came to check on Dagon with the “Philistines Times” (newspaper) and his morning Cafe Latte. They found their Dagon laying face down in front of the ark. They picked him up, sat him in his chair, and told him to have a good day, and to call if he needed anything. Apparently Dagon the Fish God lost its balance while sitting in his Fish God chair.
The second morning, the servants came by and saw their “fish-god” once again face down in front of the ark, but his head was separated from the “trunk” of the idol and his hands had been broken off. This was a problem.
The ark of the Lord stayed with the Phillys for 7 long, nightmarish, months. The Philistine Leadership called in the counselors, priests, consultants, transportation specialists, fixers, black ops team. The question on the table was ….
“How do we get it back to where it belongs?”
The advisors told the leaders to …
” … give glory to God …”
It seems odd that the counsel to the leaders was: “Give glory to God.”
When the ark finally made it back to Israel, Beth Shemesh specifically, some of the Israelites were not handling the ark right. 70 men were struck down. A call was made to the big guys in Jerusalem: (basically) “Hey, listen-up: some Philistine guys brought the ark back. You need to send somebody down here to get the ark … What’s that? …. You want us to bring the ark to you? … NO. We’re not touching the ark. YOU guys come get the ark. See you when you get here.”
A fascinating story. With the Philistines, the old addage applies: “Be careful about what you go after: you might just get it, and once you get it, you may not want it.” And with the Israelites, a false sense of security can backfire on you. But there is one more piece to all this. I believe that what is happening from the first verse of 1 Samuel on, through chapter 6 is the story of how seasons change. With young Samuel on the scene, and Eli dying, around the same time with his sons, there appears to be a “changing of the guard”. What do you think?