Philistine Pholly

  • By Pastor Boffey
  • on Saturday, January 6, 2007
1 Samuel 6:4-8 (4) Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords. (5) Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land. (6) Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed? (7) Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart, and bring their calves home from them: (8) And take the ark of the LORD, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go. This chapter sets forth the vain attempt by the idolatrous Philistines to appease the God by whose hand great destruction had come upon them. As this account is read, one can imagine that if the Apostle Paul had been there he would have said, "...I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious" (ACT 17:22), and "...ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God..." (ACT 14:15). The Philistines displayed their ignorance of the ways of the God Whose law was inside the ark, Who looks not for vain offerings of gold to cover sins, but the blood of a blemish-free sacrifice (LEV 17:11 c/w HEB 9:22 c/w 1PE 1:18-19). Mice were unclean (LEV 11:29) and emerods a curse (DEU 28:27): hardly blemish-free, acceptable sacrifices even though they were gold-plated. But such are the ways of those who seek to satisfy God contrary to the manner He has laid down in His word and think that the traditions, doctrines and commandments of men (if gilded with good intentions) are satisfactory substitutes for obedience and worship in spirit and truth (1SAM 15:22 c/w JOH 4:23-24). The Philistines' diviners concocted an antidotal formula of "...five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines..." (v.4), there being five lords (1SAM 6:16). Whether the lords were a' leaping or whether this was the fifth day of Dagonmas is a matter of speculation. That golden mice were fashioned according to the plague (v.4) indicates that a horrible bacterial pestilence such as bubonic plague (which is transmitted by rodents bitten by infected fleas) had destroyed the Philistines. God has often directed the course of history by little fleas, little bacteria, etc. "For who hath despised the day of small things...?" (ZEC 4:10). Now, the manner in which the ark was moved is of interest, for these benighted heathen thought it proper to load it on a cart pulled by a couple of cows. Years later, King David with good intentions tried to transport the ark of the covenant in a similar manner as these heathen, so inviting God's wrath and a well-intentioned man's death (1CH 13:6-10). As noted in an earlier meditation, God had specified a "due order:" only the Levites were to transport the ark and that by carrying it (1CH 15:2-13). From this we are reminded that 1) God expects His ordinances to be kept "as delivered" (1CO 11:2), 2) that believers are not to approach Him by heathen methods (DEU 12:29-32; 2CO 6:14-18; MAT 6:7), and 3) the law of God is ever the burden of God's ministers (ACT 6:4; EPH 4:11-12; 2TI 3:15-17; 2TI 4:1-2). They are His oxen (1CO 9:9; 1TI 5:17-18) and they ought not to shift that burden onto an ox-cart of seminaries, Sunday-school teachers, etc., nor exchange that burden for an ox-cart full of pseudo-duties and social programs.

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