First Samuel 6 Commentary
You would wonder why the Philistines kept the Ark for such a long time. The guess is that they reckoned to keep Israel’s god in captivity amounted to disarming Israel. Without this god, Israel was impotent, so they must have thought. The Philistines shared the same primitive and sinful mentality with Israel that the Creator God could be housed in a box and could be captured and confined.
Then we have a long section of material coming from the diviners. The reader is warned against taking the guesswork views of the diviners for factual elements of the true worship of the LORD. They are guessing. The proposed action is actually an experiment to determine if at all the Ark is responsible for their misfortunes. They, therefore, draw on their pagan practices and deploy means to appease the supposedly offended god of Israel.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7 verse 14. This is what we know. We also know that rituals and gifts, being proposed by the pagan diviners and priests, are wrong methods.
The LORD does nevertheless play along and the Ark finds its way to Beth Shemesh. But here we have another problem. The Israelite men of Beth Shemesh irreverently look into the Ark. The LORD strikes many of them. Sin is always punished, regardless of the offender. Even the very son of God was punished for being sinful – being sinful on your behalf. It is a fact that the world has so terribly missed. Sin is always punished. But the gospel is that one suffered on man’s behalf. You only appease the LORD by saying yes to the Jesus option which is by genuine repentance. Any other method, including methods like the ones being proposed by the pagan diviners here or there, is simply religious idiocy.
Like the pagan cities of Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron, the Israelite city of Beth Shemesh no longer want the Ark. So the Ark makes its way to Kiriath Jearim.
The Glory or presence of the LORD is very interesting. It is such a calming influence of peace and tranquility. It brings with it wholeness of both mind and body. It is everything man has needed! How we seek it! But at the same time, to the irreverent and sinful, the Presence is actually death.
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