1 Samuel 5 (NRSV)
The Philistines and the Ark
When the Philistines captured the ark of God,
HERE is John Williams’ invigorating theme music for the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark (a fanciful twentieth-century adventure-search for the long lost ark of the covenant). This music was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score in 1982, but Williams lost to Vangelis and Chariots of Fire.
they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod; 2then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and placed it beside Dagon.
3When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place.
Proverbs 10:8 (New Living Translation)
The wise are glad to be instructed,
but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.
4But when they rose early on the next morning, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off upon the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. 5This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not step on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.
God has glorified himself and it is clear he is a greater god than Dagon. But changing how you think and live is a big task. Easier just to glue Dagon back together and stick him back up.
6The hand of the Lord was heavy upon the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and struck them with tumors, both in Ashdod and in its territory.
What were these tumors? Older commentators often describe them as hemorrhoids, and newer commentators often describe them as signs of the bubonic plague.
7And when the inhabitants of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us; for his hand is heavy on us and on our god Dagon.” 8So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?”
The inhabitants of Gath replied, “Let the ark of God be moved on to us.”
So they moved the ark of the God of Israel to Gath. 9But after they had brought it to Gath, the hand of the Lord was against the city, causing a very great panic; he struck the inhabitants of the city, both young and old, so that tumors broke out on them. 10So they sent the ark of the God of Israel to Ekron.
But when the ark of God came to Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “Why have they brought around to us the ark of the God of Israel to kill us and our people?” 11They sent therefore and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, that it may not kill us and our people.” For there was a deathly panic throughout the whole city. The hand of God was very heavy there; 12those who did not die were stricken with tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven.
The Ark of the Covenant was now among the Philistines like a “hot potato” in the children’s game, burning every city where it stayed.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.