1 Samuel 5:1-12
5 The Philistines had captured the ark of God. They took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 They carried the ark into the temple of their god Dagon. They set it down beside the statue of Dagon. 3 The people of Ashdod got up early the next day. They saw the statue of Dagon. There it was, lying on the ground! It had fallen on its face in front of the ark of the Lord. So they picked up the statue of Dagon. They put it back in its place. 4 But the following morning when they got up, they saw the statue of Dagon. There it was, lying on the ground again! It had fallen on its face in front of the ark of the Lord. Its head and hands had been broken off. Only the body of the statue was left. Its head and hands were lying in the doorway of the temple. 5 That’s why to this day no one steps on the bottom part of the doorway of Dagon’s temple at Ashdod. Not even the priests of Dagon step there. 6 The Lord’s power was against the people of Ashdod and the settlements near it. He destroyed them. He made them suffer with growths in their bodies. 7 The people of Ashdod saw what was happening. They said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us. His power is against us and against our god Dagon.” 8 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines. They asked them, “What should we do with the ark of the god of Israel?” The rulers answered, “Have the ark moved to Gath.” So they moved it. 9 But after the people of Ashdod had moved the ark, the Lord’s power was against Gath. That threw its people into a great panic. The Lord made them break out with growths in their bodies. It happened to young people and old people alike. 10 So the ark of God was sent to Ekron. As the ark was entering Ekron, the people of the city cried out. They shouted, “They’ve brought the ark of the god of Israel to us. They want to kill us and our people.” 11 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines. They said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away. Let it go back to its own place. If you don’t, it will kill us and our people.” The death of so many people had filled the city with panic. God’s power was against the city. 12 Those who didn’t die suffered with growths in their bodies. The people of Ekron cried out to heaven for help.
The Philistines won a battle against Israel and captured the Ark of the Covenant (the dwelling place of God). They are pretty pleased with themselves and take it into the temple of their god Dagon and put it next to Him, implying He was now subservient to Dagon. They found Dagon tipped over on the floor the next morning, so the Philistines picked him up again. The next day he was on the floor with his severed head and hands in the doorway. Dagon was dethroned first, then left powerless by the loss of head and hands. The townspeople were plagued by skin growths and the ark became a ‘hot potato’. Their solution is to send it back to the Israelites.
I find it fascinating that the Philistines were terrified and couldn’t wait to get rid of the Ark despite the fact that they saw its power over them and their god Dagon. They are like many people today who see the power of God but refuse to bow down because He threatens the gods of their world. The Philistines knew the story of the Israelite escape from Egypt and the plagues that Egypt suffered. They chose to get rid of the ark real quick to escape the plagues; but they are just a stubborn as the Egyptians in their denial of the sovereignty of God.
Dear Lord, when I see evidence of your power and majesty, may I be moved to worship and obedience. All glory and wisdom and salvation belong to you. You are the only God with power to bless and to save
Written by Dimity Milne