Reflections From 1 SAMUEL 4-8: “GOD DICTATES HOW HE’LL BE WORSHIPPED, NOT US”


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There’s a biblical theme revealed through the Ark of the Covenant being placed in the temple of Dagon in Ashdod as a result of the Philistines defeating  Israel in battle (4:10-11).  The theme, “God is to be worshipped as he demands and those who refuse to comply –die!”  This theme culminates in Paul’s confession of Jesus that, “…every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD to the glory of God the Father” (Phil.2:5-11)

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.    

The glory of God ultimately tabernacled in the person of his son, the Ark of the Covenant a foreshadowing of such, belonged to Israel and was to be in Israel not in some pagan temple (5:1-8; 4:22).  God is to be worshipped very specifically and never to be treated tritely for he is the Holy One (6:20).  Both the Philistines and the Israelites were dealt the death blow because of their irreverent ways toward the LORD God (5:11-12; 6:19)

11 They sent therefore and gathered 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, so that it will not kill us and our people.” For there was a deadly confusion throughout the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. 12 And the men who did not die were smitten with tumors and the cry of the city went up to heaven.”

Not only is God to be worshipped in a certain way, he does not play favorites with family members if they are negligent with their duties as was the case with Samuel’s sons Joel and Abijah in Samuel 8:1-3:

And it came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judging in Beersheba. His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.

Their wickedness prodded Israel to ask for a king to be placed in Israel like all the other nations.  Like a polluted stream is a ruler that takes bribes and perverts justice and thus these sons polluted Israel with their wickedness.

Some hold that the God of the Old Testament (more accurately it’s the Law, the Writings, and the Prophets) is unapproachable, angry and not merciful while the God of the New Testament is approachable, calm and full of mercy.  But that notion is false for both “Testaments” unfold the theme of God being very specific in how he is to be worshipped (Jn.4:21-26; Rev.).  Moreover, those who neglect his son will be eternally condemned (Rev.20:11-15; 21:1-8).

In our 21st century pluralistic religious climate God has revealed his word to us but if we twist it to mean something it does not (E.g., all religions are basically teaching the same thing, and all roads lead to heaven) than what awaits is not  total mercy and grace but just wrath.  Why?  Because God has spoken!

(SDG)

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