Thursday February 8, 2024
Scripture: 1 Samuel 6: 13 Now the people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley, and when they looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the sight. 14 The cart came to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and there it stopped beside a large rock. The people chopped up the wood of the cart and sacrificed the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15 The Levites took down the ark of the Lord, together with the chest containing the gold objects, and placed them on the large rock. On that day the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices to the Lord. 16 The five rulers of the Philistines saw all this and then returned that same day to Ekron. 17 These are the gold tumors the Philistines sent as a guilt offering to the Lord—one each for Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. 18 And the number of the gold rats was according to the number of Philistine towns belonging to the five rulers—the fortified towns with their country villages. The large rock on which the Levites set the ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh. 19 But God struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they looked into the ark of the Lord. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the Lord had dealt them. 20 And the people of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?” 21 Then they sent messengers to the people of Kiriath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to your town.”
Meditation: We cannot hope to think that our worship of God gives us license to live in rebellion against the Lord. Worship is a poor substitute for obedience.
– The people of Beth Shemesh made sacrifices to the Lord on the day that the ark arrived in their town. They were delighted that the ark had been restored to them and that God had brought judgment on their enemy causing them to literally send the ark back to Israel.
– We too are delighted and are prone to celebrate and to worship the Lord in the face of receiving what we perceive to be a blessing from God. The return of the ark was cause for celebration; however, it was also cause to repent because the sin of Israel was the reason it had been lost in the first place.
– We love to celebrate and to offer praise and worship in the House of God but do we also perceive our natural propensity to sin, and to be apathetic and complacent in our walk of faith? The people of Beth Shemesh were so caught up in the ecstasy of repossessing the ark that they went so far as to open the ark and to look inside of it. The ark of the Covenant was holy unto God. It was a sacred piece concealed behind the veil as well as obscured by the cloud of incense. Yet the people, in their jubilation, cast all caution aside and presumed the right to gaze into the sacred vessel.
– In their familiarity with the ark they lost all perception of reverence for the God who gave it! Jubilation in worship is a very good thing; however, when we lose our reverence for the God we are intending to worship, our actions may in fact become blasphemous and our witness a reproach.