Summary: One really does not believe in God when they put God to a test!
We noted last week from Chapter 5 of 1 Samuel that God caused disease and death among the Philistines because they mocked God using the Ark of the Covenant which held the 10 Commandments. The Philistines thought that their god was stronger than the One and Only God; they tried to figure out a way not to bow down to God and then they tried to send away God.
But God was really trying to teach the Philistines who the real God is. God continues to teach them in 1 Samuel 6 and we will also note at the end of the chapter, God will again teach Israel. Let us pray our prayer of commitment before reading….
Open your Bibles to 1 Samuel 6….. Read along with me from v1….
v1-2: 7 months of judgment from God led the Philistines to look for a spiritual solution
For over half of a year the Philistines dealt with disease and death; and it all started when they captured the Ark of the Covenant for a trophy.
God was trying to teach the Philistines the first day they took the Ark of the Covenant; why do you think it took them 7 months to find a spiritual solution??
Like most people, the Philistines were greedy and selfish!
Now, before we talk about the offered solution, what did the Philistine priests and diviners knew about the God of Israel??
v6: The Philistine spiritual leaders knew about God through Israel’s history in Egypt!
Now, let’s not give too much credit to those spiritual leaders; although these Philistine spiritual leaders knew the power of the One and Only God, we note in v9: the Philistine spiritual leaders were not willing to completely bow down to God; they were still putting God to a test!
The Philistine spiritual leaders offered a spiritual solution BUT they also had “an out”!
The Philistine priests and diviners sought spiritual truths but were still not completely convinced of God’s truths! It was a yes, but…. They were saying I believe this but…..
Sounds familiar? Sadly, even many Christians today would say “I believe the Bible, but…….”
We can also note in v3 that their response started with “if” rather than “you must…”
Many today would say “If God would do this, then I’ll believe.” You see, if one believes in God, then there is no need for testing! One really does not believe in God when they test God!
Anyway, what was the solution that the Philistine spiritual leaders offered?
In summary the solution offered was, as noted in v3-8: a guilt offering be given to God
How good was the proposal? Let’s look at the details.
a. Professes guilt
b. Offering reflects all the rulers and belief that God brought the judgment
c. Pay honor to the right God
d. From v6 – do it with a humble heart
e. Be delivered with care
Sounds all good doesn’t it?
But what does v16 indicate? The Philistine rulers watched where the cart went very carefully because they believed their spiritual leaders that there is a possibility that it wasn’t really God who caused their problems. When the Philistine rulers saw that the cart went where it was supposed to, to verify God’s dealings with them, it doesn’t tell us but how do you think those rulers felt??
Turn ahead briefly with me to 1 Samuel 7:10……
This actually happened after 20 years (it takes 40 years for a new generation). It was the same generation who gave a guilt offering then later fought again against God’s people. The Philistines may have humbled themselves before God but only for a little while!
Back to 1 Samuel 6; look again at v13-18: There was rejoicing and worship when the Ark, God’s Word, came back to the Israelites!
But what happened in v19-21?
- Israelites disobeyed God’s rules regarding the Ark.
- Many died because of the blatant sin.
- The whole city mourned!
- They learned their lesson and sent the Ark to where it belonged!
God again taught the Israelites a lesson!
What Biblical principles can we apply to our lives today?
First of all, it took seven months of trials before the Philistines thought about finding a spiritual solution! How long do we wait? God tells us to pray without ceasing!
1. We must always, and immediately, seek God for solutions to our trials!
1 Thessalonians 5:17 – Pray always!
And there are biblical principles both good and bad from the Philistines! The Philistines noted the work of God in Egypt! This is a must for us as well!
2. Note and remember God’s powerful work! How many of you have experienced answers to prayer?? How many of you have experienced miracles?? I like seeing sunrises and God’s wonderful creations; I marvel at how greater God is beyond the sun and even beyond the stars!! We must always think of the power of God!