Morning Light – May 1st, 2015
Today: [1 Samuel Chapter Five]: The Glory of God in the House of Dagon. In this chapter we cut away from the tragic events of Eli’s death and the mourning over the people’s defeat at the hands of the enemies. The ark of God is taken by the Philistines to the temple of Dagon in Ashdod. The following morning the Philistines find the image of Dagon prostrate before the ark of the covenant. They also breakout in hemmeroids throughout the city and suffer a plague of mice. They move the ark from place to place like a “hot potato” and suffer plagues and disease every where the ark goes. God told Abraham that He would bless those that bless His people and curse those that curse His people.
[1Sa 5:1-12 KJV] 1 And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod. 2 When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. 3 And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon [was] fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.
In the previous chapter we see the ark taken in battle and the priest Eli and his sons Hophni and Phineas are dead. Phineas’ wife dies in childbirth, naming her son Ichabod meaning “the Glory has Departed”. The only leadership at this time left in the tabernacle at Shiloh is young Samuel who heard the voice of the Lord God in the night. Now we cut away behind the lines of the Philistines to see how they fare after capturing the ark of God. They travel from Ebenezer to Ashdod and put the ark in the temple of their god Dagon.
Dagon is called the “fish god” by Hebrew writers because he is the image of a man from the waist up and the image of a fish from the waist down. The name Dagon means “grain” signifying that Dagon was originally a god of grain. Eventually he becomes the idol of maritime Canaanites and becomes rather the fish god as he is petitioned by them for good seas and large catches in their nets.
To set the ark of God in the temple of Dagon was not an act of reverence. They were bringing the ark as an offering to Dagon to show him the spoils of war and thank Dagon for his supposed assistance in the battle. To their shock they find the next morning that in the night the image of Dagon has fallen on his face as though in obesience before the ark of the Covenant. This is fitting because Dagon means “Lord of Gods”. In ancient Ugaritic texts he is described in the Phoenician pantheon as the third in order of the pagan gods after El, Baal and then Dagon. As such he is an antitype of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Spirit moves in men’s hearts as the “fishers of men” preach the gospel. They cast the gospel net and bring the lost into the kingdom. The antichrist spirit Dagon mocks the Holy Spirit as a pagan spirit or demon who draws people away from worship of the one true God. Thus in Ashdod we see the Dagon image prostrate before the Ark reminding us that “every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord ….”
4 And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon [was] fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands [were] cut off upon the threshold; only [the stump of] Dagon was left to him. 5 Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day. 6 But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, [even] Ashdod and the coasts thereof.
The Philistines prop the image of Dagon up again in it’s place. To their dismay the next morning they find not only that Dagon is prostrate again before the ark but the hands and head of the image are broken off and piled at the threshold or entrance of the temple. For this reason and out of fear and superstition the priests at Ashdod never again would step on the threshold but rather would gingerly step over it as they went into the temple to worship their broken and defamed false god Dagon. Notice the determination of course to continue worshipping a false god rather than repent and turn to the worship of the one true god.
In all of this God is getting glory for Himself. There is no priest or army of Israel left to defend the honor of Jehovah. They thought the glory had departed but actually the glory of God had been restored. The era of every man doing what was right in his own eyes is coming to its end. God first deals with the corruption at Shiloh and then turns His attention on the Philistines. Judgment first begins at the house of God in Shiloh and now the pagan temples of the Philistines. The Philistines no doubt looked upon the incident the first night as some kind of freak accident or an earthquake. Now again the second night they cannot deny that they are dealing the TRUE Lord of Lord and not their leering image of Dagon claiming himself to be something he is not.
7 And when the men of Ashdod saw that [it was] so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god. 8 They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about [thither]. 9 And it was [so], that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.
The men of Ashdod rather than repent and give honor to God decide to sent the ark to Gath. This is where Goliath and his five brothers live. They would have been witnesses to all these events. In later years when king Saul is slain in battle the Philistines take vengeance on the Hebrews by decapitating Saul and displaying his head in the house of Dagon where they had originally placed the ark of the Covenant.
The Lord originally showed patience with the Philistines by shaming their idol and bringing ill repute upon their temple. They refused to repent and return the ark instead sending it to Gath. Now they begin to reap their defiance in their own bodies breaking out in hemorrhoids throughout the city and suffering later a plague of mice.
10 Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people. 11 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. 12 And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.
The ark is taken in battle and left at Ashdod but the people there are terrified and send it to Gath. In Gath they break out in a city-wide plague of hemorrhoids and therefore send the ark to Ekron. Again a great and deadly destruction breaks out in that city and the Lords of the Philistines come together and decide perhaps they need to allow the ark to return to the children of Israel.
The ark of God represents the dwelling place of His presence and His glory. Eph. 3:17 tells us in the New Testament economy of God that He doesn’t dwell in a host or a building but in our hearts by faith. We are in Him and He is in us. Col. 1:26-27 says that Christ in us is the hope of Glory and that His glory is revealed in us and through us to the world. In times past I have had several instances where I would take a new job in a struggling business and that entire business turn around and begin to thrive. The other employees and the owners may not have realized it was God but they would point out that everything changed when we showed up. The favor of God follows you everywhere you go. Those who bless you will be blessed and those who curse you will be curse. Just as radioactive material affects everything around it even so the favor of God and the glory of God radiates off of your life and affects everything around you sometimes for life and sometimes for death depending on the response of the people involved to the claims of Christ.
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