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April 19, 2019

Please read today’s Scriptures and use the comment section on this page to share your insights from today’s reading. You can also just mention a verse that impacted you or post a question!

Read (and Hear) the Bible in One Year
Christian Standard Bible for 2019

Text: 1 Kings 18-20
Audio: 1 Kings 18-20

You can use the audio Bible as a guide to help “set the pace” as you read along.

1 Samuel 6 (ESV)

The ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months. And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us with what we shall send it to its place.” They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty, but by all means return him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why his hand does not turn away from you.” And they said, “What is the guilt offering that we shall return to him?” They answered, “Five golden tumors and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines, for the same plague was on all of you and on your lords. So you must make images of your tumors and images of your mice that ravage the land, and give glory to the God of Israel. Perhaps he will lighten his hand from off you and your gods and your land. Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had dealt severely with them, did they not send the people away, and they departed? Now then, take and prepare a new cart and two milk cows on which there has never come a yoke, and yoke the cows to the cart, but take their calves home, away from them. And take the ark of the Lordand place it on the cart and put in a box at its side the figures of gold, which you are returning to him as a guilt offering. Then send it off and let it go its way and watch. If it goes up on the way to its own land, to Beth-shemesh, then it is he who has done us this great harm, but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us; it happened to us by coincidence.”

10 The men did so, and took two milk cows and yoked them to the cart and shut up their calves at home. 11 And they put the ark of the Lord on the cart and the box with the golden mice and the images of their tumors. 12 And the cows went straight in the direction of Beth-shemesh along one highway, lowing as they went. They turned neither to the right nor to the left, and the lords of the Philistines went after them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh. 13 Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. And when they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, they rejoiced to see it. 14 The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh and stopped there. A great stone was there. And they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord.15 And the Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the box that was beside it, in which were the golden figures, and set them upon the great stone. And the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices on that day to the Lord. 16 And when the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron.

17 These are the golden tumors that the Philistines returned as a guilt offering to the Lord: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron, 18 and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and unwalled villages. The great stone beside which they set down the ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh.

19 And he struck some of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked upon the ark of the Lord. He struck seventy men of them, and the people mourned because the Lord had struck the people with a great blow. 20 Then the men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?” 21 So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to you.”

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Next: 1 Samuel 7

Back: 1 Samuel 5

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Replicating Rituals

    What an interesting chapter this is. First, we see the Philistines, in recognition of God's heavy hand against them, attempt to lift His hand by trying to replicate rituals that the people of God did in worship to God. 

    Disconnected from the covenant relationship between God and His people, they create gold mice and tumors as a guilt offering. Rather than bow before God in recognition of their sin and His holiness and repent, they try to appease Him with an offering to escape His wrath.

    What happens next is surprising. After seven months, the ark is finally returned to the people of Israel, specifically Beth-shemesh. It appears from the text that the ark hit a great stone and when it broke apart, they split up the wood and offered up the cows who were pulling the cart as a burnt offerings to the Lord. 

    If we remember, earlier we read these cows were milk cows who had their calves taken from them. According to Levitical law, this was a violation as only male animals were to be used for burnt offerings. 

    In the midst of this reunion, God strikes down seventy men from Beth-shemesh for looking upon the ark of the Lord (which was also a violation of the law which required the ark be shielded from view (Numbers 4:5-6). 

    Just as the Lord said, "man shall not see me and live" (Exodus 33:20), the ark represented the presence of the Lord and as such, people were not to look upon it.

    Just as the Philistines wanted to get rid of the ark to remove the heavy hand of the Lord against them, the men of Beth-shemesh look for relief by asking the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim to come and take the ark. 

    We live in a society were people get A's for effort. Even losing teams now win trophies for just competing. But God is not interested in our effort if our motives are impure, if the things we “do for God” go against what has been revealed to us in His Word, or if we do "righteous things" without a relationship with Him.

    We don’t get to make things up as we go and do whatever we want and expect God to receive it as worship or acts of righteousness. If we lose the majesty of God and the holiness of God in our lives (and in our worship), a religious ritual or church tradition will never bridge the gap between our rebellious hearts and a holy God.

    The only way we can truly experience God’s presence is by loving Him with every aspect of our lives. If the things we do are an expression of love and adoration for Him – and are done according to what has been revealed to us in His Word (and not against it), that will bring glory to God. 

    We must always remember that our effort can never lift the heavy hand of God on us. It's only by His grace and mercy that we avoid His wrath; and it's through faith in Jesus Christ alone (apart from works) that we receive it. If we are born again and are in Christ and the heavy hand of God is on us, we need to repent and not turn to religion or rituals for relief. 

  2. When I do things with a pure heart, to serve God by serving my family, take care of Mikey, or cook for church, there is a very tangible feeling in my heart. It is one of pure love, joy, and servitude, and I feel God's presence so strongly in those moments. 

    Other times, when I'm very tired and have to keep pushing, sometimes I can feel frustration or even resentment toward whomever I'm doing it for, and that's such an unpleasant feeling. 

    I have to remind myself that every single bit of work and service is for God, and I try to slow down, take a deep breath, and remember Jesus. When I look to Him, and remind myself to give all the glory to God in everything I do, my heart softens and the negative feelings fade, and I get strength from the Lord to carry on. 

    What an incredible change from the person I used to be. 

    1. I love hearing testimonies of God at work in our lives, Brynne, making us more like Christ. Thank you for sharing this!!

      I'm reminded, too, that even Jesus grew weary, and yes — frustrated. Rightfully so. I'm so grateful for God's patience with me.  

  3. In this chapter we see the priests of the Philistines instructing their people to "give glory to the God of Israel" in hopes He will "lighten His hand" against them and against their "gods." They also warn the Philistines to learn from what happened to Pharaoh and the Egyptians when they hardened their hearts. 

    I find it interesting that the priests of the Philistines did not worship God themselves, but continued (apparently) to serve as priests to the gods of the Philistines. 

    "Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God?" v. 20

    "…For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,

    'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
        and every tongue shall confess to God.'

    "So then each of us will give an account of himself to God." (Romans 14:10-12)



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