Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 5

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 7


‘Dagon our god.’

1 Samuel 5:7

I. The possession of the ark proved to be a curse rather than a blessing to the Philistines.—This was because God, for whose presence the ark stood, was not given His proper place. They placed the ark beside the image of their god, which fell prostrate before the ark, as if to show them the position which they should take before the God of Israel. The Philistines determined to have Dagon as well as the ark, and so they set him up again.

Many people around us to-day would give God second place in their hearts if their idols might remain. But that cannot be. There must be a choice—God or idols—not both.

II. The next morning the Philistines found their idol again fallen before the ark, with his head and hands off.—Therefore they would not have the ark abide with them, but sent it first to one place, and then to another, taking destruction wherever it went. After it had been seven months in their country, the Philistines determined to send it back to the Israelites. The ark was received by the people of Beth-shemesh; but when God smote the men of that city for having looked into the ark, they sent it to the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim, who took it to the house of Abinadab, where it remained a long time.

The priests of Beth-shemesh must have known that even the Levites were forbidden to look upon the furniture of the Holy of Holies upon pain of death ( Numbers 4:19-20), but instead of hastening to cover it with befitting reverence, they left it exposed to the public gaze, and brought down a judgment which was intended to vindicate the holiness of Jehovah.


(1) ‘If in our hearts there is some Dagon idol, before which we have prostrated ourselves, let us bring in the ark of the God of Israel. Surely no evil thing can stand against the entrance of the Redeemer. It must fall down before Him, and be broken. Those who cannot cast down Dagon before introducing the ark, should introduce the ark, and Dagon will fall down by himself. The idols He shall utterly abolish.’

(2) ‘In the Books of Samuel and the Kings it is the presence or the absence of the ark which justifies everything that is normal and sufficiently explains everything that is abnormal in the history. Whether at Shiloh, or in the hands of the Philistines, at Kirjath-jearim or on Mount Zion, it is everywhere and always “the ark of the covenant,” the silent witness from the period of the exodus. There is but one such ark in Israelitish history, and it renders that history in its main features, especially in its characteristics religious features, indivisible and unimpeachable. The secret of the books is the secret of the ark which stored them, and between whose cherubim dwelt Jehovah of hosts.’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 5". The Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.