1 SAMUEL 5:1-7:17 | JOHN 6:1-21 | PSALM 106:13-31 | PROVERBS 14:32-33
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Continuing with our story in the first book of Samuel, we learn what happens to the Philistines when they carry away the Ark of the Covenant after defeating Israel. But doing so does not bode well for these people. For starters, they notice that the image of their own god Dagon, seems to fall down in its own temple. The people soon figure out that there might actually be a correlation between this curious happening and the presence of the Ark in that place, and it isn’t long before they move the Ark out.
But it seems that no matter where the Ark goes, it seems to bring misfortune to the people. They soon draw a parallel between this and the stories they have heard of the Egyptians who were also afflicted with plagues when Pharaoh did not let the people of Israel go. And so, they determine that this Ark must be returned to Israel. Not only that, they send it back with a “guilt offering”—gold images of tumors and rats to signify the affliction of each of their towns and villages.
When the Ark is returned, Samuel says this to the people: “If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.”
And this appears to be the turning point for Israel. Under Samuel’s leadership, the Israelites are able to defeat the Philistines, and in honor of this, Samuel commemorates this victory by installing a stone and naming it Ebenezer meaning: Thus far the LORD has helped us.
Turning to our reading in the book of John, we learn about Jesus feeding the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fishes. Out of almost nothing, Jesus not only fulfills the need of the hour, but there are twelve baskets of leftovers. Such is the blessing that God affords the believer!
And when you have faith, anything is possible. You look out into the water and see a man walking on it, and after you have recovered from the initial fright of perhaps having seen a ghost, you look more closely and see that it is Jesus, of course. All things are possible with this man, including walking on water.
From the other gospels we know, of course, that Peter demonstrated great faith, if only for a few short moments when he also walked out onto the water to meet Jesus. Great examples of faith that defy all reason!
Turning now to our psalm of the day, we find in Psalm 106 a continuation of a chronological history of the people of Israel. Toward the end of the psalm, Phinehas, Eli’s son is referenced.
Finally, one great verse from the book of Proverbs that is worthy of rumination:
32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down,
but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.