Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30)

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

2020.05.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 6:13–7:1

Questions from the Scripture text: What were the people of Beth Shemesh doing in 1 Samuel 6:13? What did they see? How did they feel about that? To where did the cart come (1 Samuel 6:14)? What was there? What did they do with the cart, the cows, and the stone? What do the Levites then do (1 Samuel 6:15)? What do the men of Beth Shemesh do? Who were watching all of this (1 Samuel 6:16)? What objects remained where even to the day that 1 Samuel was written (1 Samuel 6:17-18; ignore the supplied/italicized words in the translation)? What had the men of Beth Shemesh done (1 Samuel 6:19)? And what did Yahweh do to them? How many died of this? How did the people respond in verse 19? What did they ask in 1 Samuel 6:20, and what did they want to do with the ark? To whom do they send messengers (1 Samuel 6:21)? What do they say has happened? What do they ask them to do? Where do the men of Kirjath Jearim bring the ark (1 Samuel 7:1)? What do they do to Eleazar and why?
It seems that the people of Beth Shemesh do much better than the Philistines. They offer a sacrifice on an uncut stone. They employ Levites to handle the ark of Yahweh. The actions in 1 Samuel 6:14-15 stand very well by contrast to the idolatry in 1 Samuel 6:17-18.

Why, then, is the slaughter of Israelites in 1 Samuel 6:19 greater than the slaughter of both battles with the Philistines in chapter 4? Because they mix their superstitious curiosity with the commandments of the Lord. Perhaps they wanted to see Yahweh Himself, whom they now presumed to be actually contained in the ark, after what it had done to the Philistines. Perhaps they did not think it was Yahweh Himself but earthly articles of great spiritual power. Perhaps they were just taking advantage of the fact that the Ark was not hidden in the tabernacle, and this was their chance to see inside.

Whatever the particular reason, the primary reason for the slaughter is the same: they failed to grapple well with the reality of God’s holiness. They had not learned the lesson of Leviticus 10:3, “By those who come near Me, I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people, I must be glorified.”

I wonder if we have learned that lesson in our daily lives, and especially in our private, family, and corporate worship. How much are we affected by the knowledge that we are always before the face of the Holy, Holy, Holy God? Does the conduct of our mind and heart in private worship reflect a sense of His holiness? Would those who participate in our family worship conclude from our manner that the God Whom we worship is holy—and if our manner does, what does God observe, when He sees in secret?

What does our conduct before and after public worship say about the holiness of Him whom we approach—to say nothing of what we do during worship? It is not so very unusual for children to doodle about something unrelated, or for adults and even church officers to research around on their phones, during the preaching, instead of giving their minds and souls to be examined by Christ in it (cf. Hebrews 4:12–13). And how easily one may slouch unthinkingly through reading written prayers (or not even following extemporaneous prayers), or how easily an entire congregation may address God and one another lightly in familiar songs!

But this is not a lesson we learn easily. Even where it rests “safely” in the house of Abinadab resides one of his sons, Uzzah, who himself will become famous for being struck dead for disregarding God’s holiness in touching the ark with his hand to stabilize it. God help us regard His holiness, not only in our manner, but most of all in only ever coming to Him through the righteousness of Christ!
In what situations are you least mindful of God’s holiness? When do you most need to be?
Suggested Songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH230 “Holy, Holy, Holy!”

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