Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Daily Devotion for Wednesday (7/22/09)-From the Old Testament

Today’s Old Testament reading in the Treasury of Daily Prayer is from 1 Samuel 5 and 6.  Let’s consider just 5:1-6:1:


1 Samuel 5:1 - 6:1  When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod2 Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon.  3 And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place.  4 But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him.  5 This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.  6 The hand of the LORD was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory.  7 And when the men of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, "The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god."  8 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, "What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?" They answered, "Let the ark of the God of Israel be brought around to Gath." So they brought the ark of the God of Israel there.  9 But after they had brought it around, the hand of the LORD was against the city, causing a very great panic, and he afflicted the men of the city, both young and old, so that tumors broke out on them.  10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. But as soon as the ark of God came to Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, "They have brought around to us the ark of the God of Israel to kill us and our people."  11 They sent therefore and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, "Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, that it may not kill us and our people." For there was a deathly panic throughout the whole city. The hand of God was very heavy there.  12 The men who did not die were struck with tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven.  ESV 1 Samuel 6:1 The ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months.


This is the sort of story that we shy away from at the dinner table with our children.  It would cause our little ones to ask questions…questions that may even make us uncomfortable.  Nevertheless, the Lord reveals himself through His Word…even this Word!


The Philistines had placed the Ark of God in the temple of their pagan god, Dagon—the height of idolatry!  Mysteriously, or so those Philistines thought, their lifeless statue had fallen on his face before the ark—the same position one might take when they bow before the true and living God in worship.  But when the Philistines placed Dagon back on his feet, they woke up the next morning to find him fallen again, only this time he had fallen to his “death”—hands and feet had been broken off and were lying on the threshold.


Among people who worship false gods and where there is no faith, even the physical presence of God can go unnoticed until something happens that they don’t like.  And then, they want to get as far away as possible from that scary God who has revealed himself in wrath.


Dagon’s head had been broken off because there is only one Head of all creation—and through Him alone all life proceeds.

Dagon’s hands were broken because he was powerless, and had nothing to give from his own hands.  For from the hands of the living God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—do all blessings flow.


The false gods of men can not give life, but only bring death.  When we put our trust in anything other than God himself, we make ourselves to be like the foolish Philistines.


But there is a sort of happy ending to this story.  In chapter six, when the Ark of God is taken back to a land where God is known and Worshiped, songs of praise are sung, for they know that from His hands come all good things.


Seen with the eyes of unbelief God comes in wrath.  But the very same God, seen with the eyes of faith, and looking through the cross of His Son Jesus, know that God comes in mercy and grace.


Truly, God’s Word is both Law and Gospel.  Thanks be to God, that he has given us Christ and for His sake comes not to kill, but to give life.


Peace in Christ!

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