The Magic Ark

The Israelites assumed that they were God’s people and so their actions did not matter.  They believed that gods could be manipulated by practicing cultic rituals.  In essence this is magic.  Magic manipulates supernatural forces to bend them to the will of the individual.  The people of Israel believed that God could be manipulated.  They believed that they could manipulate God by carrying him into battle in the form of the Ark of the Covenant.  The Ark ceased to be a symbol of God’s desire to dwell with his people, but it became a magic talisman to the Israelites.

Some people still treat God this way.  Rather than the pursuit of God and the discerning of His will, people will often use ‘faith’ and prayer as a tool to get what they want.  If their desired result does not come about it is seen as a failure of their faith to ‘believe for it’ or it is a failure of God.  Of course, these last two assumptions are ludicrous but still such views exist. Sometimes nations will try and manipulate God or assume God is on their side in a conflict when there is no real moral high-ground in the conflict.  This kind of attitude is the same as the attitude of the Israelites that caused theem to resort to using their Magic Ark.

1 Samuel 4:1-11

 Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. 2 The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield. 3When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the LORD bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the LORD’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.”

 4So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

 5 When the ark of the LORD’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. 6Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?”

   When they learned that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid. “A god has[a] come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. 8 We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. 9Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!”

 10 So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

Questions

  1. What shocking incident creates tension in this story?
  2. What solution to the conflict do the Israelites choose?
  3. Why do you think Samuel is not mentioned in this passage?
  4. How do people look to talismans and charms to manipulate God?
  5. How could you live a life that pleases God without trying to control him?
Advertisements

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
This entry was posted in Daily Devotions. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The Magic Ark

  1. Sokloon Dy (Lizzy) says:

    1. they lost to the Philistines.
    2. they decided to bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh as a means to give them victory.
    3. i think because he did not want anything to do with this evil that was taken place.
    4. they think that these talismans and charms are supposed to make God do things for them in their own way.
    5. we can be obedient to His word. if we follow His word, we will never go wrong. Also, we dont try to pressure God into doing things.

  2. Rebecca Langer says:

    What shocking incident creates tension in this story?
    The Israelites lost to the Philistines.

    What solution to the conflict do the Israelites choose?
    The Israelites brought the Ark of the Covenant onto the battlefield.

    Why do you think Samuel is not mentioned in this passage?
    Perhaps he was not in the area, or very probably, he did not approve of the Israelites actions so he was not with them that time.
    How do people look to talismans and charms to manipulate God?
    People might wear a cross for good luck or they might try and say a lofty prayer to impress God into satiating their desires.
    How could you live a life that pleases God without trying to control him?
    If you aim to pleaase God without controlling him you need to know that you are conforming to God’s qualifications and not the other way around.

  3. [ED2203-01] HyeJin Lee says:

    1.What shocking incident creates tension in this story?
    -The Israelites were defeated by the enemy.
    2.What solution to the conflict do the Israelites choose?
    – They decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant.
    3.Why do you think Samuel is not mentioned in this passage?
    – He might not had been involved in this event.
    4.How do people look to talismans and charms to manipulate God?
    – People sometimes tend to think they might do well on something and get better results if they pray before hands.
    5.How could you live a life that pleases God without trying to control him?
    – I would pray that something would happen in God’s will and not in my will.

  4. Amy Kringle says:

    1. God was “on” their side yet they lost to the Phillistines.
    2. To use the Ark of the Covenant in battle to bring victory,.
    3. He did not agree with how they were using the Ark of the Covenant.
    4. That by doing/not doing something they can win over the favor of God.
    5. Realizing that we cannot manipulate him, rather we have to bring our desires in line with his will.

  5. Moon [ED 2203;Mon 6:00pm class] says:

    1.What shocking incident creates tension in this story? the battle (Israel was defeated by the Philistines)
    2.What solution to the conflict do the Israelites choose? they brought the ark of God
    3.Why do you think Samuel is not mentioned in this passage? Samuel was God’s faithful child. I think Samuel was not involved in this evil action of Israel.
    4.How do people look to talismans and charms to manipulate God? people manipulate God as a vending machine. when they need something then ask God to provide exactly what they want.. But God cannot be controlled by anything else.
    5.How could you live a life that pleases God without trying to control him? live my life faithfully. do my best in every moment. try to follow the righteous way. and obey Him through the time that God has given me.

  6. Melisa Guiles says:

    1. The Israelite army is defeated by the Philistines.
    2. They bring the ark of the covenant into the war camp.
    3. I don’t think he was there at the time and he probably did not approve of what they were doing
    4. They think that by praying a certain prayer or doing certain things they will be able to make God do what they want. Some of these things are serving Him, going to church, giving to the poor, memorizing Scripture, and reading the Bible.
    5. I think it comes down to realizing who is in control. God is in control and not me. He has a plan that is bigger than me and might not include the things I think it should. However, He is still God and has a plan. By realizing this, I am able to serve Him inorder to please Him and not to try to get anything out of it.

  7. Cassie Clark says:

    1. Israel was defeated by the Philistines.
    2.They think God will come with them if they bring the Ark along.
    3.Perhaps he was not involved in this decision. Maybe they did not tell him.
    4.I think because it feels good to have some control. We can try to manipulate God by controlling Him with charms.
    5. I think the word “submission” can completely sum this up.

  8. Grace Yoo says:

    1. The shocking incident in this passage was that the Israelites lost to the Philistines.

    2. The Israelites choose to bring the ark of the covenant to the Lord.

    3. I think that Samuel is not mentioned in this passage maybe because he was not in the area or the region. He also may have just not been involved in this war.

    4. Some people believe that good deeds leads to a better life. If somebody does not read their Bible in the morning and pray, they believe that bad things will happen to them that day and vice versa.

    5. I can live a life that pleases God without controlling him by putting Him before all things. I should put my life and faith and trust in Him and not prepare for tomorrow.

  9. Jessica Gentry says:

    1. The Israelites were defeated by the Philistines.
    2. The Israelites chose to solve this problem by bringing the ark of the covenant to the camp of the Philistines.
    3. Samuel is not mentioned in this passage becuase Samuel is a man who God reveals His plans to, and this was not Lord’s plan to make the ark of the covenant a manipulative tool.
    4. People look to tailsmans and charms in these days through ritualistic efforts such as being involved in their church, participating in a small group, doing community service, praying a lot, etc. These are all good things, but when used in this manner, to manipulate God into giving one what they want, they lose their value.
    5. You can live a life that pleases God, without trying to control Him by seeking what is upon your heart but trusting that God knows and will do BEST, even if that is far from what you want originally. We must learn to serve God because we love Him and feel moved to good works, rather than using good workds as a way to control Him.

  10. Kristin Goffinet says:

    1) The Isrealites lost the battle to the Philistines.
    2) They decided to bring the ark of the covenant into battle with them.
    3) Samuel may not have been mentioned because no one invovled him in what was taking place.
    4) Often, people think that wearing crosses or other religious stuff will endear them to the Lord.
    5) By remaining devoted to humility and prayer.

  11. Sandra Tindle says:

    1. The fact that the Philistines defeated the Israelites is shocking, and it creates tension with the idea that the Israelites will always win if they have God with them.
    2. The solution the Israelites choose was to bring the Ark with them into battle to help them win.
    3. Samuel is not mentioned in this passage because God did not speak to him and tell him to tell the Israelites to do this, they just did it on their own.
    4. People look to talismans and charms to manipulate God by thinking that carrying those things around means that God is right there and He will magically do whatever they need done.
    5. You live a life that pleases God without trying to control Him by listening to Him and doing His will rather than your own.

  12. HeeJin,Choi says:

    1.What shocking incident creates tension in this story?
    – Israelites were defeated by Philistines regardless of Israel’s strong belief that they will triumph in the presence of the ark of God.
    2.What solution to the conflict do the Israelites choose?
    – Bringing the ark of God into the battlefield.
    3.Why do you think Samuel is not mentioned in this passage?
    – To maximize the Israel’s wrong deed
    4.How do people look to talismans and charms to manipulate God?
    – People know that those manipulating tools are not right, but in real life when they are in desperate situations, their agenda is often firmly standing.
    5.How could you live a life that pleases God without trying to control him?
    – by not focusing on the circumstances but on contemplating my deeds in the presense of God.

  13. spiritandtruth1128 says:

    1. What shocking incident creates tension in this story? The fact that even though the Israelites had the ark they lost to the Philistines
    2. What solution to the conflict do the Israelites choose? They think that bringing the ark would fix everything
    3. Why do you think Samuel is not mentioned in this passage? I think Samuel wasn’t mentioned because he would have never agreed with the method the Israelites chose, therefore he probably wasnt involved in this.
    4.How do people look to talismans and charms to manipulate God? They let themselves believe that talismans bring luck which means they think the talismans have more power than God. Then they also expect God to just do whatever they want whenever they feel like asking for it, and if He doesn’t do it they blame Him.
    5. How could you live a life that pleases God without trying to control him? I think I just need a constant reminder that my life isn’t really mine. God gave it to me, and He can take it away whenever He wants. So, I think I can strive to live understanding that my desires are not number one.

  14. 1. The Israelites were defeated.
    2. They want to bring the ark.
    3. I’m not entirely sure about this one….
    4. They think that the magical objects are more powerful than God… or, they think that they can manipulate God by showing that they too have power.
    5. By trusting Him instead of asking Him to trust me.

  15. Kristen Patush says:

    1.What shocking incident creates tension in this story?

    The Israelites lost to the Phillistines.

    2.What solution to the conflict do the Israelites choose?

    They bring the Ark from Shiloh to the camp.

    3.Why do you think Samuel is not mentioned in this passage?

    The soliders did not consult him in the decision they made….because he would not have agreed.

    4.How do people look to talismans and charms to manipulate God?

    They think thay these things are powerful, as God is powerful, and that they can some how manipulate a decision from God by using these things.

    5.How could you live a life that pleases God without trying to control him?

    Obey His Word! Beg God to change our hearts, to have a constant attitude of thankfulness and humility, knowing that He ALONE can and is in control!!

  16. aaron wright says:

    1. the ark didnt help the Israelites win the battle
    2. bring the ark to the battlefield
    3. he wouldnt have agreed to bring the ark to battle
    4. they bring manmade gods into the equasion of finding out Gods will.its a dumb idea
    5. just trust and follow Him. dont try to manipulate God into doing just what u want to do

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s