1 Samuel: Fallout

1 Samuel 4:12–5:12

There are bad days, and then there are bad days. 1 Samuel 4 shows us the darkest of dark days for Israel. And the biblical writer artfully shows this story through the perspective of a now-widowed woman giving birth to a fatherless child. Now there’s a metaphor for the hopeless and desperate place in which Israel now finds itself. Remember all the commands in Deuteronomy to take care of widows and orphans? Widows and orphans are the most vulnerable people in society. Without the ark, without the tangible presence of God with them,

For the Israelites, the ark is not so much the place where God lives but the singular point that God touches earth. In science fiction terms, it’s the wormhole between heaven and earth.

In creation, heaven and earth are made as one whole. In the Fall, the are wrenched apart. God’s redemptive work in Israel, then, is about stitching them back together. The ark represents the first stitch in drawing heaven and earth back together again. Losing that, then, that singular point of light, of order in chaos, makes for a very dark day indeed.

The Philistines, on the other hand, have no idea what they have. For them, it’s a box of wood where a deity lives. And for them, this is a deity who isn’t that special because they just conquered this god’s people. For them, this is a brutal game of “capture the flag” and they just stole the other team’s flag.

Instead, they are a broken, sin-soaked people playing with the one holy thing that exists on the earth.

The Philistines have an ark problem.

What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?

What about you? What do you see?


About peterjwhite

I am a pastor to college students in Tulsa, OK.
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