Don't Forget

by Scott Vance on January 12, 2022

1 Samuel 6-7:1 (click here to read the scripture)
When you think about it, the narrative at this point is incredible. 
Remember how this story has unfolded: the battle between the Philistines and Israel; the leadership of Israel is morally bankrupt; they view the Ark of the Covenant as a lucky talisman; they have forgotten about the Lord.  Then there is the utter and complete defeat of Israel, the death of Eli and his sons, and the capture of the Ark of God.  However, God is demonstrating His sovereignty and power—especially among the Philistines.
Now we get to the next part of this amazing narrative.  The Philistines are at a loss at what to do.  They believed that their god was greater than the Lord, yet the heavy hand of the Lord has been upon city after city.  Death and disease have followed.  It’s been a mighty spiritual battle, but not in the eyes of the Philistines.   They decided to test and see if the disaster is from Yahweh or just a coincidence.  They get a couple of cows that have calves but separate them from each other.  Then they hitch the cows to a cart and place the Ark on the cart along with a guilt offering of gold rats and gold tumors, (very costly.) They point the cart towards Israel and watch to see what will happen.
They test to see if the cows turn back to care for their calves and fail to deliver the cart to Israel or if the cows head towards Israel.  The cows go straight on into Israel and deliver the Ark and the guilt offering!  Yahweh wins! 
One of the most incredible things about this passage is that the priests of the Philistines are the ones who are calling their own people to give glory to the Lord and remember what the Lord did to the Egyptians and Pharaoh (6.5-6)!
However, notice what happens when the Ark of the Lord returns to Israel.  First, there is great rejoicing and thanksgiving, but then great sorrow as seventy people die.  The people of Beth Shemesh attribute these deaths to improper care for the Ark. 
The point of all this in the narrative is to show us that God is sovereign over all - Israel and Philistia.
The part that catches my attention is how Israel doesn’t get it.  They’ve somehow missed the Lord.  They’ve forgotten the rich history that they’ve enjoyed through Abraham, Moses, and Joshua.  As I reflect upon the passage, my question is this, how did they ever come to the place where they reduced their rich heritage of relationship with God to something that they store in the attic or garage only to be dragged out when they want something? 
For me, it’s all about nearness - nearness to God.  It’s so easy to let our relationship with God slip away.   We’re so easily distracted by our own busyness and we let that busyness carry us through our days.  When that happens, we can wind up being like the Israelites and reduce our relationship with God to something that is idolatrous - a relationship which we try to manipulate or obligate the Lord to us. 
“I’ve done these things Lord, so now I need you to…”
How do we avoid treating the Lord as our cosmic butler?  How do we keep from placing ourselves over God?  The solution is to draw near to the Lord and humbly submit ourselves to His will every day.  There’s nothing wrong with laying our petitions before the Lord and even arguing with the Lord in prayer, but when we finish arguing and wrestling with the Lord in our prayers, we must finish with the unshakable obedience and resolve we see in Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”  (Luke 22.39-42)
God bless you my friends, know that He is with you now even as you read this.
I’m praying for you this morning.


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