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CHAPTER 5 Jun. 26 
The Ark Goes to Ashdod, Gath and Ekron
Now the Philistines had taken the ark of God, and they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2They took the ark of God into the house of Dagon and set it beside Dagon. 3When the people of Ashdod arose early the next day, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of Yahweh. They took Dagon and set him back in his place. 4When they arose early the next morning, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of Yahweh and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were broken off, lying on the threshold. Only Dagon’s torso was intact. 5Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor anyone who comes into Dagon’s house will tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod, to this day. 6But the hand of Yahweh was heavy on the people of Ashdod and those nearby, and He destroyed them, afflicting them with tumours. 7When the men of Ashdod saw what was happening they said, The ark of the God of Israel must not stay with us, for His hand is severe on us and on Dagon our god. 8They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines together and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? They answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried over to Gath. They carried the ark of the God of Israel there. 9But after they had carried it there, the hand of Yahweh was against the city, causing panic, and He struck the men of the city, small and great, and tumours broke out upon them. 10So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. As the ark of God came to Ekron, the Ekronites cried out, They have brought the ark of the God of Israel to us, to kill us and our people! 11They sent therefore and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and they said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go back to its own place so that it does not kill us and our people. For there was a deadly panic throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. 12The men who didn’t die were struck with the tumours, and the cry of the city went up to Heaven.


5:9 God didn’t give Israel victory because they had the ark with them in battle, and yet He kills many Philistines because they have the ark with them. So strong was His desire to demonstrate that religious tokenism will not bring blessing, in fact the very opposite- it is the path to death (see on 4:10 and 4:13). 
5:12 God has a sensitive heart even for the sufferings of unbelievers. He so hates to see any of His creation suffering. Those believers who fear God’s final rejection should remember this; that He has a hugely sensitive heart. Note that as ‘ascending to Heaven’ is hyperbole and not literal (see too 2 Chron. 28:9; Ezra 9:6; Ps. 107:26), so likewise the language of ‘falling from heaven’ in verses like  Is. 14:12-14 must also not be read literally.