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1 Samuel 6 - Gift Exchange

Even the Philistines, the arch enemy of God's people, can point us to salvation in Christ!

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1 Samuel 6 Summary

RECAP: The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant after the Israelites had hauled it into battle as if it were some sort of good luck charm. But things didn't go well for the Philistines after they set the Ark in a humiliating position in the temple of their god Dagon.

The Philistines kept pawning the Ark off on the next city because of the terrible plagues that beset each city the Ark was in. Finally, they've have enough and they resolve to send the Ark back to Israel.

Once again, we see a fairly solid theological understanding from the Philistines, who had earlier recognized the historical power of the God of Israel. Now they correctly deduce that they can't just send the Ark back by itself. Instead, they must include some gifts to make atonement to God for what they've done.

The gifts they sent - golden tumors and rats - signified the very plagues they'd been experiencing that they were hoping to rid themselves of.

Just to make sure they're doing the right thing, the Philistines put the Ark on a cart hitched to two mama cows, who instead of going back to their hungry calves, are divinely inspired to haul the cart up hill back to Israel.

The Israelites' jubilation at the ark's return is short lived, after 70 people die when they pried open the holy Ark to look inside. The chapter ends with a haunting question from the Israelites:

Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? (v20)

Dig Deeper

The Philistines understood that forgiveness requires atonement - a payment. They made representations of what was plaguing them (the tumors and rats), and then sent them out of their country so that the plagues would follow as well.

In their own superstitious way, the Philistines point us to Christ!

God had commanded His people to once a year designate two goats to represent all of the people. These scapegoats (Lev. 16:8-22) would ceremoniously have the sins of Israel put upon them. One would be slaughtered as an atonement, and the other would be sent out from the camp into the wilderness carrying the sins of the people away with it.

In the same way your sins were transferred to Christ, who was then led out of the city, and ultimately carried your sin out of God's presence after atoning for it with the gift of His own blood.

AAA Prayer:

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father is the holy God, before whom we must reverently submit

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God that Christ's atoning blood has restored your relationship with Him




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