Bible Commentaries

1 Samuel 5

Verses 1-12

This is a story of supreme and arresting interest, showing as it does how, when the people of God fail to bear testimony for Him among the nations, He becomes His own witness.

The Ark was not a charm equal to delivering disobedient Israel. It was, however, the center and symbol of their life, and Jehovah would not permit Philistia to trifle with it. If men hold their peace stones will cry out; and if the chosen people are unfaithful to God, then the very Ark, which is the symbol of His presence among them, becomes the instrument, wherever it is brought, of judgment on His enemies.

They first lodged it at Ashdod in the house of the fish-god Dagon, with disastrous results to the idol, which was brought to the ground, and broken. With speed and in fear, the people then carried it to Gath. There judgment fell on the inhabitants which, in all probability, was a plague of mice. While this is not stated in our text, it is found in the Septuagint Version, and the subsequent action of making images of mice makes it probable. In any case, some discomfiture came to the people with the coming of the Ark.

Again they moved it as hastily to Ekron, where painful and troublesome tumors broke out among the people. Thus, at every move, judgment became more severe, and Philistia found that if she had been able to conquer and break the power of Israel, it was a different matter when she came to deal with Israel's God.