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Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Bible Meditation: 
1 Samuel 5: 1-12

But the HAND of the Lord was HEAVY on the people of Ashdod, and He ravaged them and struck them with tumors…” 1 Samuel 5:6a

No opposition of idolatry, evil, or wickedness can withstand GOD’S HAND of JUDGEMENT: But the HAND of the LORD was HEAVY on the people of Ashdod, and He ravaged them and struck them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory. And when the men of Ashdod saw how it was, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for HIS HAND is harsh toward us and Dagon our god” (1Sam.5:6). It appeared that God – represented by the Ark of the Covenant – was being held hostage by the enemies, but not so! Israel had been defeated in an initial battle with the Philistines, suffering the loss of about 4,000 lives (1Sam.4: 1-2). They were wondering how God could allow them to suffer such defeat, concluding that it was because they did not take the Ark of God into battle with them.

Israel thought that like a good luck charm, the presence of the Ark would make the difference, and they confidently commenced fighting. Fearfully, the Philistines rose to the challenge, dreading that it might mean death or defeat for them. Instead, it led to an even greater defeat for Israel: 30,000 foot-soldiers are killed, along with the two priests, Hophni and Phinehas (1Sam.4:5-11). When Eli learnt that his sons were dead and that the Ark had been captured, he fell from his seat, broke his neck and died (1Sam.4: 12-18). His death was followed by his daughter-in-law giving birth to the son she named Ichabod – “gone is the glory” – in light of the Ark being taken (1Sam.4:19-22).

Today’s meditation text begins at this point. The captured Ark of God was set in the temple of Dagon, right by Dagon’s side (vv.1-2). One can imagine the Philistine’s momentary elation and jubilation over their apparent victory as they carried the Ark from Ebenezer to Ashdod. To their rude shock, God humbled and dragged Dagon into the dirt (vv.1-5). Then, He troubled Dagon’s worshippers with tumours (vv.6-12). He did these by His Strong Hand of Judgement that was heavy and harsh on His enemies. They forgot that the God of Israel is not an idol. He needed not to be defended or be carried about by men. God Himself is the One who carried Israel and still carries the Universe!

The Philistines assumed that defeating Israel and capturing the Ark was defeating God. But the next morning, their idol lied prostrate in the dirt before the Ark of God. They repositioned Dagon. Yet, the following morning, Dagon had fallen once again, but this time its head and hands were broken off as it struck the threshold. The Ark of God was in the Philistines hands, but their god was in the Hand of the Almighty God! The Ark symbolized God’s Presence among His people. But God is greater than any man-made idol. They placed the Ark next to their god, but God put Dagon in his place – permanently! An idol which men had fashioned to be their god, fell into the Hand of the angry God!

The Bible presents diverse stories of individuals who fell into demotion or destruction by God’s Hand of Judgement.

For their rebellion against Moses, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram “and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly” (Num.16:33).

Nebuchadnezzar’s pride and punishment; his exaltation, humiliation, and restoration were by God’s Hand of Judgement and Mercy (Dan.4).

Herod’s arrogance and destruction: So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died. But the Word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 12: 21-24).

The LORD is “the Righteous Judge” (2Tim.4:8). And “It is a fearful thing to fall into the HANDS of the LIVING GOD” (Heb.10:31).

Adetokunbo O. Ilesanmi (Meditations)

Lord, let YOUR HAND of JUDGEMENT be heavy and harsh against every threat of idolatry, evil, or wickedness assaulting our lives, in Jesus’ name.
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