Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

1 Samuel 5

Verses 1-12

  1. INTRO:
    1. Memorial Day/John Uriarte/OperationMiltaryAssistance [present flag 2nd service]
      1. OMA: Prays; Connects w/families; [pre-deployment; deployment; post-deployment]
      2. As this day commemorates all U.S. Men/women who died while in the military service. 1,000th American serviceman killed in the Afghan conflict.
    2. All church Fast for marriages - choose a day this week. (Is.58)
    3. Prayer for Bulgaria team(Keith, Cheri, Candy, Johnnie-Anne). And Mical India.
    4. Intro Story: In The Chronicles of Narnia, 2 girls, Susan and Lucy, are getting ready to meet Aslan the lion, who represents Christ. 2 talking animals, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, prepare the children for the encounter. “Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “That you will, dearie,” said Mrs. Beaver. “And make no mistake, if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
      “Then isn’t he safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you!”
  2. THE ARK IN A STRANGE LAND! (5:1-12)
    1. THE ARK IN ASHDOD! (1-8)
    2. (1) Ashdod - 1 of their pentapolis. (see all 5 in 6:17)
      1. On the coastal plain, about 5m from the Med sea.
    3. (2) The Ashdodites were devotees of Dagon (little fish ½ man, ½ fish).
      1. Dagon: body of a fish(dag/Heb.) & head/hands of a man. A Merman!
        1. He was a very popular deity throughout the Mesopotamian world.
      2. The ark was set up in Dagon’s Temple. Dagon appears to have been on a raised platform & the ark placed “on the side” & “beneath” it.
        1. A position symbolic of an inferior “waiting on” & “ready to serve” a superior. (Cyril Barber; The books of Samuel; pg.72)
    4. (3-4) Unwilling to accept this incident an evil omen, the priests hastily restored Dagon to his position of eminence.
      1. They hurry the next morn to check it. But Dagon was again found prostrate before the ark, & this time severely damaged.
      2. Don’t miss lying face down on the ground in a position of worship before the ark! This time decapitated & dismembered [Head/arms symbols of his wisdom/activity]
    5. These pagan priests were confronted with a theological problem. Is this other God greater than theirs? Naaa, let’s just develop a new tradition instead (see vs.5).
    6. (5) Zeph.1:9 mentions a custom of leaping the threshold, & this story gives the tradition of this custom. [Kind of a step on a crack break your mothers back]
      1. In the same day I will punish All those who leap over the threshold, Who fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit. Zeph.1:9
    7. (6) Tumor - mound, boil.
      1. In the Greek LXX(3rd to 2nd cent BC) & Latin Vulgate(5th cent/Jerome) both add “& in the midst of their land rats sprang up, & there was a great death panic in the city”
    8. 3 Hebrew words help us:
      1. Opel [tumor] [לֶפֹעophel] (5:6) “boil/swellings”(usually in the groin).
      2. Tehor [tumor] [ םיִרֹחְטtâchor] (6:11,17) “painful swelling”.
      3. Satar [broke out] [רַתָׂשsathar] (5:9) only used here. “to be hidden, to be inverted.”
        1. The swellings occurred “in their secret parts”, a reference to the groin, and was contagious, killing many. The disease was associated with the presence of rats. Add rats + disease then the entire episode is consistent with the disease known as bubonic plague. In bubonic plague, the fleas of the rat are able to transmit to humans the pathologic bacteria, Yersinia pestis. The bacteria invade the human body, causing fever and buboes, which are large soft swellings in the armpit and groin. Without treatment, the mortality rate is 60 to 90 percent. Baker Encyclopedia
    9. The glory may have departed from Israel, but God was still in control & well able to defend His name.
      1. Has the enemy captured the glory from your life? Rest assured God is still on the throne!
    10. God can reveal Himself in a heathen temple, & all false gods must fall before Him.
      1. How much better it would have been for His glory to be revealed on the battlefield, but He could not give victory to a disobedient people.
        1. It would only have encouraged them more in their sin. [Warren Wiersbe]
    11. (8) Their panic parallels the hysteria spread by the Black Death in Europe in 1348 & by the plague in London in 1665.
    12. This reminds me of a story - In 1715 King Louis XIV of France died after a reign of 72 years. He had called himself “the Great,” and was the monarch who made the famous statement, “I am the state!” His court was the most magnificent in Europe, and his funeral was equally spectacular. As his body lay in state in a golden coffin, orders were given that the cathedral should be very dimly lit with only a special candle set above his coffin, to dramatize his greatness. At the memorial, thousands waited in hushed silence. Then Bishop Massilon began to speak; slowly reaching down, he snuffed out the candle and said, “Only God is great.”
    13. THE ARK IN GATH! (9)
    14. Sounds like “Hot potato!” - The object of hot potato is to not be the one holding the potato when the music stops. [Gath passes the hot potato to Ekron]
    15. THE ARK IN EKRON! (10-12)
    16. Instead of confessing their sin & trusting the true God of Israel, the people of Philistia tried to get rid of the ark.
      1. What a great opportunity they were passing by!
      2. But then, would you want to trust in the god of the defeated enemy?
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 5". "Bell's Commentary". 2017.