1 Samuel 6

* The Philistines consult how to send back the ark. (1-9) They

bring it to Bethshemesh. (10-18) The people smitten for looking

into the ark. (19-21)

1-9 Seven months the Philistines were punished with the

presence of the ark; so long it was a plague to them, because

they would not send it home sooner. Sinners lengthen out their

own miseries by refusing to part with their sins. The Israelites

made no effort to recover the ark. Alas! where shall we find

concern for religion prevail above all other matters? In times

of public calamity we fear for ourselves, for our families, and

for our country; but who cares for the ark of God? We are

favoured with the gospel, but it is treated with neglect or

contempt. We need not wonder if it should be taken from us; to

many persons this, though the heavies of calamities, would

occasion no grief. There are multitudes whom any profession

would please as well as that of Christianity. But there are

those who value the house, the word, and the ministry of God

above their richest possessions, who dread the loss of these

blessings more than death. How willing bad men are to shift off

their convictions, and when they are in trouble, to believe it

is a chance that happens; and that the rod has no voice which

they should hear or heed!
10-18 These two kine knew their owner, their great Owner, whom

Hophin and Phinehas knew not. God's providence takes notice even

of brute creatures, and serves its own purposes by them. When

the reapers saw the ark, they rejoiced; their joy for that was

greater than the joy of harvest. The return of the ark, and the

revival of holy ordinances, after days of restraint and trouble,

are matters of great joy.
19-21 It is a great affront to God, for vain men to pry into,

and meddle with the secret things which belong not to them, #De

29:29; Col 2:18|. Man was ruined by desiring forbidden

knowledge. God will not suffer his ark to be profaned. Be not

deceived, God is not mocked. Those that will not fear his

goodness, and reverently use the tokens of his grace, shall be

made to feel his justice. The number smitten is expressed in an

unusual manner in the original, and it is probable that it means

1170. They desire to be rid of the ark. Foolish men run from one

extreme to the other. They should rather have asked, How may we

have peace with God, and recover his favor? #Mic 6:6,7|. Thus,

when the word of God works with terror on sinners' consciences,

they, instead of taking the blame and shame to themselves,

quarrel with the word, and put that from them. Many stifle their

convictions, and put salvation away from them.

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