God’s Sometimes Heavy – and Always Righteous – Hand (I Samuel 4-7)

Sunday, October 9th – Start of Week 12

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By : Terrence Raper

The Philistines capture the ark of the covenant, and it seems like a huge symbolic victory, to accompany the actual victory over the Israelites. Except for the part where God begins to place His “heavy hand” on all those around the ark of the covenant. Steven Spielberg was not too far off with his portrayal of what trouble befalls those who mess with the physical symbol of God’s covenant. Several cases of tumors, and a crushed pagan deity, and now no one wants the ark in their town.

The ark in these few chapters reminds me of the anecdotal nature my parents used to talk about the prospect of my brothers and I being kidnapped. They used to say that they weren’t worried about anyone snatching up one of us. My parents joked that we would have been promptly returned to them due to how much trouble we would have caused. Also, that we would have annoyed the kidnappers so much that they would have risked being caught, and would have given up any hope of ransom just to return us home.

The return of the ark to the Israelites came with even more bloodshed. Some Israelites were killed for looking inside. I still find it hard to reconcile the God of the Old Testament, with the father of Jesus. It is hard to see the forgiving actions displayed by Jesus, connecting to the seemingly static commands of God. I believe God is omnipotent and all knowing. So I wonder sometimes if this is the way it had to be, or was this bloody history found in the Old Testament part of God actually changing his approach towards human kind?

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