Summary: The story of the return of the ark to Israel gives us five principles for doing Things God’s way.
A Study of the Life of Samuel
Sermon # 5
“Doing Things God’s Way!”
You will remember in chapter four that the Philistines had captured the ark of the Covenant in battle and taken it to the capital city of Ashdod (5:1). Once there terrible things began to happen. When placed in the temple of there chief God Dagon, not once but twice they had entered the temple to find their god face down as in worship before the ark (5:2-4). How humiliating that must have been. Then a plague of tumors began to break out in each city that the ark was moved to (5:6-12). Finally, they decide to return the ark to Israel but not with a test, they had place the ark on a cart to be pulled by two cows who had just given birth to new calves. These cows were to be separated from their calves and if the cows pulled the cart to the nearest Israelite city rather than standing still or going to their calves then Jehovah really wanted the ark back (6:7-10). Much to the surprise and dismay of the Philistines the cows made a bee-line for the Beth-Shemesh (6:12) and thus the ark was returned to Israelite hands.
Five steps to doing things God’s Way.
1. There Must Be A Reverence For God and the Things of God (6:17-21)
But once the ark arrived in Beth-Shemesh it should have been covered, it was not suppose to be seen by anyone except the high priest. The people did not do this even though they knew and for the cost for this error of judgment will be high. Some of the people became curious and ‘looked into the ark” and were slain. There is some difference of opinion as to whether these individual looked into or upon the ark but either way it was an action that was forbidden and a number of Israelites lost there lives as a result.
I wonder if what happened was the result of what sometimes happens day, people rationalize why God does not really mean what he says. The serpent began this ploy as far back as the Garden of Eden, when the serpent said to Eve, you will not really die if you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” “God didn’t really mean it when he said that Eve, you don’t really think God would kill do you.” Perhaps the people of Beth Shemesh said, “I know God said in His law that the holy things were to be handled in such a way and that only certain people could perform certain functions, but that is not politically correct. Every one should be equal in the sense that no function excludes some and includes others. That would be sexist. So forget his business of only the Levites looking up and handling the ark, and let anyone who feels like it assume the role of a Levite in worship.” Today we say that, “If a woman wants to assume the role of pastor, it just is not right to say that God’s word says that you can not. That is insensitive.”
The affect of the disastrous handling of the ark was that the Israelites developed a deep sense of the holiness of God. After considering the number of those who are struck dead merely for looking at or into the ark, Israel had to begin wondering, “Who then can stand before the Lord?” The men of Beth-Shemesh word it for all of Israel in 1 Samuel 6:20,”Who is able then to stand before this holy Lord God and to whom shall it go up from us.”
After many are struck dead for merely looking at or into the ark the Israelites finally grasp how utterly different, how vastly superior the one true God is! This is the beginning step in doing things God’s way.
We must realize that all true revival begins with a deep sense of the holiness of God and a corresponding awareness of our own sinfulness.
There Must Not Only Be A Reverence For God and the Things of God but also
2. There Must Be a Drawing to the Lord 7:2
Twenty years pass from chapter seven, verse one, when the Ark was moved to its new location in Kierjath Jearim (kir-jath je’-ar-im) until the action takes up again in verse two. But as we will see having the ark in Jewish territory didn’t automatically solve Israel’s spiritual problems.
“So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.”
Verse two says that Israel “lamented after the Lord,” that there is a distinct yearning for the Lord began to grow among the people of Israel. We are told that all the house of Israel lamented or was drawn together after Jehovah.