Missed Opportunity

1 Samuel 5:8b “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?”

Observation: Philistines had captured God’s ark when Israel, in presumption, had carried it into battle. Eli, Israel’s leading priest, had fallen over and died when he heard news (v. 4:18) of the Ark’s capture and the death of his two sons in battle. The Philistines knew they had taken an important prize and placed the Ark next to their god Dagon in his temple. The next day they found poor Dagon flat on his carved face, so they righted him only to find it there following day not only fallen again, but this time beheaded with his hands broken off (v. 5:4) and the local citizenry afflicted with devastating tumors (v. 5:6). So they asked the logical question: “What shall we do with the Ark of the God of Israel?”

Application: What a fascinating illustration of the power of sin’s stronghold on a people. Israel had lost over 30,000 troops in the battle against the Philistines.  All the armor, all the weapons, all the heavy artillery they brought to bear against the enemy was for naught…everything was lost. But God’s Presence resided in the captured Ark. And from there He did greater damage and instilled more fear into the Philistines than 30,000 warriors had been able to do.

Yet the peoples’ response was not to fall on their face to worship this God who had shown Himself so powerful. Instead, their only reaction was to ask, “Now that we have this thing, what do we do with it? It’s causing us unprecedented pain, so how can we get rid of it?”

Talk about missed opportunity! The Source of salvation Himself was in their midst, yet they were so bound by darkness as to never have considered that the potential for freedom was at hand. I wonder … how many times have I acted as they did? Planning perhaps to do something a bit on the shady side. … something I know better than to do…God’s conviction comes and I have a choice to make, a choice to change course and yield to Him, but too often I would instead plot ever more carefully to keep my secret, and plow forward. Eventually, like Dagon, I fall on my face, utterly broken before the God of the universe, undone by His convicting love.

I ought to consider Luke 12:45–46 here: “But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to live inside me, to bring conviction when I allow my thoughts to wander far from You. Make me quick to recognize conviction as a great river of Your love washing over me, protecting and guiding me back to peace. Back to joy. Back to contentedness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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