In 1 Samuel 4 lies an interesting story of the Israelites engaged in a battle with the Philistines. The Israelites were defeated & had lost about 4,000 men. While they question one another as to the reason for their loss, no one thinks to ask God the question, “Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?” (1 Samuel 4:3a NLT). No one thought to examine themselves to see if their sin was the root of the problem. No one realized that they had not asked the Lord if they should even go into this battle in the first place.
But they come up with a solution….
“Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies.” (verse 3b NLT).
They take the Ark from Shiloh into battle. The treat the Ark, the most sacred of all symbols of the very presence of God with them, like a lucky charm of sorts. The proverbial, lucky rabbit’s foot in the back pocket. But God would not be manipulated in that manner. The Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines & carried away. In 1 Samuel 5:1, we read a very sobering verse:
“They carried the Ark of God into the temple of Dagon & placed it beside an idol of Dagon.” (NLT).
Dagon was a god of the Philistines, probably either a fertility of agriculture god (New Living Bible – page 475).
Now the enemy has the Ark of the Covenant, the most sacred symbol of God’s Presence with His people, sitting right beside their pagan idol. The picture that formed in my mind, hit me hard. Until I wondered….
Am I any different today?
What idols are raised up in my life that I sit right alongside of my God? Perhaps…
- a hard working husband
- children that have turned out well
- a house
- a career
The Israelites were hoping that by taking the Ark into battle, they would achieve a victory. They were hoping that the object would do for them what only God could do. They had placed their hope & trust in the symbol rather than in God Himself. They had seen their actions as “idolatry”.
Am I really any different when I allow myself to focus on anything more than God?
What has won that place in your heart & mind that was created for God only?