In today’s chapter God allowed His power and might to show without Israel getting any of the glory or the credit. When the people of Israel brought the ark into battle, God allowed 30,000 men to be slaughtered. God was not to be used as a tool to simply threaten someone’s enemies. But God did not allow the Philistine’s a victory either. God allowed His power and might to be used against the evil Philistines also. God did not choose to protect Israel just because of their blood line, but He did protect them when they came to Him with a heart of repentance and trust toward Him. How much better would things have turned out for the people of Israel if they were to proceed in the way God had intended. I believe that we can picture here the fact that God can, and will, do as He pleases. But it is up to us whether or not God will allow us to join Him in His victories. God today is in the business of saving the lost. He does not need us in order to do so, but if we are obedient, we can have a part in what God is doing. He did not need the army of Israel to punish the Philistines, but He would have allowed them to be a part if their hearts were in the right place. Instead, God’s people were not elevated in the sight of the other nations. God Himself alone was. We are told a number of times in scripture that God Lifts the head of the humble but the prideful He will debase. If the people would have been humbled by their sin and trusted in God, they too would have been lifted up in the sight of the world around them.
If you are reading the King James version you will notice that God gave the people “emrods.” Some translations call them “tumors in their private parts”. The word “emrod” means hemorrhoids. Tell me that God does not have a sense of humor! We also see in this chapter the heart of the Philistine people. As the curses from God came down due to having the ark in captivity; they simply shipped it off to other regions of their people. What great neighbors! I wonder if the first city had stock in Preparation “H”?
Another interesting thing in this chapter is that the false god Dagon (which was half man and half fish made of stone), when it fell, lost his hands and feet. God was, I believe, showing the Philistines that their god was incapable of doing anything. One is not much good when missing all of their extremities.
At the end of the day the Philistines realized that they had to send this ark back before they were all destroyed. Although the pride of Israel had been lost; the God of Israel was still in complete control.