1 Samuel 6

At this point, it is appropriate to review the things that we have learned from what amounts to a history of the development of Israel…

  • 1 & 2 Samuel are primarily about armed conflict vs. the Philistines.
  • The philosophy of the history is “deuteronomic,” meaning Israel either follows the laws prescribed by God and is blessed or suffers consequences.
  • What made Israel distinctive were the laws given to them by God. These laws were either a difference or a consequence of their relationship with God.
  • This history does not dictate what one exactly should think about it as much as an invitation to learn what one can from it.
  • Symbolically, the Ark of the Covenant coincides with Mary’s filled womb – both carry the Word of God and God incarnate.
  • Eli and his son’s deaths foreshadow “God’s glory departing Israel” (1 Sam. 4:21-22).
  • The submission of the Philistine god Dagon to the God of Israel (1 Sam. 1:12) is contrasted with what happened on the field of battle.

Today’s passage indicates that since the God of the Ark does not favor the Philistines, they decide to return the Ark to its original owners. This return of the Ark first appears to be a good sign to Israel, yet a slaughter (v. 19) in some form or other* breaks out because of it. Israel, no doubt, viewed its return both positively and negatively. The Ark is then stored away (v. 20) until David’s day (2 Sam. 6).

*The note I have in my Bible on verse 19 indicates this 50,070 men is considered to be a scribal error as there is a discrepancy in the extant Hebrew manuscripts. It may mean “He struck 70 men of the men of the people and 50 oxen of a man.”

There you have it, an apparent problem within the Bible. One trusts that the original writing was inspired and must be accurate. The subsequent copies have some flaws because the copiers, like our selves, are flawed. This is to be logically expected in a fallen world where, aside from Christ’s example of a perfect life, perfection is unreachable. This means that we cannot realize perfect anything – including truth on our earth such as it is. It does not mean that there are many very good attributes about our where we live and it’s people, and that we cannot know what and who are truthful. One should not let the search for perfection get in the way of the discovery of very good.

Craig Randolph