Jan. 7. Ark Returned; Samuel Judges Israel

I Sam. 6:1-7:17

After seven months of misery, the Philistines called for their priests and diviners to tell them how to return the ark of the covenant to the Israelites. They were instructed to make a trespass offering of five golden images of both the tumors and rats that had afflicted them and to place them in a chest on a cart beside the ark. The cart was to be pulled by two milk cows that had never been yoked. If they took the cart with its load to the Israelites instead of returning to their calves, they would know that it had been God who had afflicted them because of the ark and not a by chance occurrence.

There was great celebration in the Israelite city of Beth Shemesh when they saw the ark. They used the wood of the cart for fire and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. However, in their excitement, some of the men opened the ark. Only priests and Levites were allowed to touch it. Because of their disrespect, God destroyed fifty thousand and seventy men of Beth Shemesh. The ark was taken to Beth Jearim where it remained for twenty years.

Israel continued to suffer at the hand of the Philistines. Samuel, the judge and prophet of God convinced them to put their gods away and return to the true God. As the Israelites were meeting for worship and rededication at Mizpeh, the Philistines again went up to attack them. With God’s help, His children were able to subdue them. They once again lived in peace.

“And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.”