1 Samuel 6:13-7:2 Blessed By the Holy God
1 Samuel 6:13-7:2
13 Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. And when they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, they rejoiced to see it. 14 The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh and stopped there. A great stone was there. And they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15 And the Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the box that was beside it, in which were the golden figures, and set them upon the great stone. And the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices on that day to the Lord. 16 And when the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron. These are the golden tumors that the Philistines returned as a guilt offering to the Lord:one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron, 18 and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and unwalled villages. The great stone beside which they set down the ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth- shemesh. 19 And he struck some of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked upon the ark of the Lord. He struck seventy men of them, and the people mourned because the Lord had struck the people with a great blow. 20 Then the men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?” 21 So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to you.” 7:1 And the men of Kiriath-jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord and brought it to the house of Abinadab on the hill. And they consecrated his son Eleazar to have charge of the ark of the Lord. 2 From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.
The Ark was pushed from pole to pillar over the next seven months among the cities of Philistine. During which the Philistines were busy trying to contain the plagues and devastation every time the ark came into a city. Having realized that the God of Israel is hurting their gods and their people, they decide to send it back to Israel. Because the men of Beth-shemesh did not know the word, they desecrated the ark by looking into it and that caused 70 of them to be struck down. God’s holiness demands reverence in those who draw near to Him. Because God is holy, all who draw near to Him must submit under His authority in reverence. The people of Kiriah-jearim took up the ark without fear because they knew the word and approach God in reverence and awe. And they were blessed by the holy God. For the next 100 years, the house of Abinadab that hosted the ark was blessed beyond measure.
And when they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, they rejoiced to see it – The people of Beth-shemesh rejoiced upon seeing the Ark on a cart coming their way. They probably had in mind the return of the blessings and the glory of God to Israel. Their rejoicing is demonstrated by their spontaneous act of sacrificing to God in the presence of the Ark.
Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us – In the process of setting the Ark on the stone and sacrificing to God, some of the men actually desecrated it by opening it and looking inside perhaps to see if the stone tablets of the Law were still there. This violated the Law that stipulates that only Levites could handle the Ark and not even they could touch it directly, to say nothing of looking inside it (Numbers 4:5, 15, 20). As disobedience in this respect would bring death, 70 men of Beth-shemesh were struck down. The people mourned as their exhilaration was suddenly met with horror. Their exclamation: Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? Their response towards the holiness of God is nothing different from that of the Philistines: And to whom shall he go up away from us?
And the men of Kiriath-jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord – After numerous unfortunate events that resulted in plagues and deaths on both sides, it is refreshing to still see faith in Israel. The men of Kiriath-jearim are assured of God’s love towards Israel and His righteous ways. The men of Kiriath-jearim are confident and had no fear because they knew the Mosaic Law. They brought the Ark into the house of Abinadab who consecrated his son for the role of priest according to the Law who would have charge of the Ark. The Ark seemed to have caused havocs and chaos in an arbitrary and unpredictable manner, as no one seemed to know how to handle it even within Israel. However, God has raised up men who knows the word and how man could draw near to the God of holiness who is gracious and loving towards all.
- Because God is holy, believers must draw near to God with utmost reverence and awe. God’s holiness represents His moral perfection, absolute wisdom and supreme power. God, who is holy, calls his people to be holy and righteous by providing Himself as a standard of holiness. The holy God who is morally perfect will demand justice and will one day vindicate the righteous. His moral perfection means that He will be faithful to deliver His people as promised in His word. At the same time, God’s holiness demands absolute separation from evil. In the age of the Spirit, the holiness of God resides within every believer whose heart is regenerated by the washing of the word and repentance. God’s holiness no longer dwells in objects that can be manipulated by man. However, man can show contempt for God by attributing the works of the Spirit to an evil source, which is the unforgivable sin of blaspheme.
- True blessedness comes from knowing the word and living according to it. The people of Beth-shemesh rejoices at the sight of the Ark, but their rejoicing was not based on the true knowledge of the word. They did not read the word that stipulates how the Ark is to be handled and that brought disaster upon themselves. Thus, their joy was short-lived. However, one will have enduring joy if he knows the word and live according to it. Many of today’s believers rejoice in the fact that God forgives sins. But they do not know that only through studying God’s word and living it out, one can experience abundant blessings. Hence, many could not experience true blessings because they did not know the word of righteousness. Jesus says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” Luke 11:28.
- When one endeavors to know the word and live according to it, there is no fear in coming before the holy God. The men of Kiriath-jearim had no fear of handling the Ark because they understood the Moses’ Law and are committed to following His ways. Their reverence towards God moved them to read God’s word and to live according to it. Many churchgoers prefer to feed on the milk of the word that tells of God’s willingness to bless but omits the solid food that speaks wisdom and godly virtues for living. Hence, when they come before God, they have little assurance because their hearts do not know Him or His ways. Although they knew salvation by way of the cross, but still they struggled to find peace because they refused to walk in obedience to the truth. The Old Covenant promotes holy living by constraining the actions of worshipers according to a set of procedures when they come before God. The New Covenant promotes holy living by the Spirit and the Word, filling their hearts and minds with His holiness.
- The holiness of God demands justice by punishing evil and those who show contempt for God. However, the justice that is required by God’s holiness is placed upon Jesus who was punished for the sins of those who love Him. Hence, believers can now come before God without fear to receive power to overcome sin, peace in times of sorrow, wisdom in times of confusion, and strength in times of weakness.
- There are different levels of joy:
- Joy that comes from being saved from condemnation.
- Joy that comes when you are expecting some gifts from God.
- Joy that comes when you are walking in the perfect will of God despite inconveniences and sacrifices.
The basis of your joy reveals your spiritual maturity. The fact that what makes an adult happy is different from what makes a child happy. Which of the above give you much joy?
- As we approach the holy God, the Spirit makes known to us our weaknesses and sins. What are some issues that the Spirit has been revealing to you?
Dear Lord, I thank you for taking the punishment for my sins. I can now approach you with boldness to receive grace in times of weakness. Help me to understand more of your word and live in it. In doing so, bless me abundantly according to your riches. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.