And the men of Beth–shemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God? and to whom shall he go up from us?1 Samuel 6:20
Dear Church and Friends,
For Father’s Day I preached from 1 Samuel 6:13-18. I took the good example of the men of Beth-Shemesh as a pattern for Christian men today. However, I didn’t treat verses 19-21 which show the other side of the story. So for today’s Letter I will address the sin and failure of the men of Beth-Shemesh.
The Philistines rejected the Ark with a terror that reached to the heavens. The men of Beth-Shemesh received it with rejoicing and worship. Then, for who knows what reason, they acted with an impious irreverence worthy of the Philistines. The Bible says in 1 Samuel 6:19, “And he smote the men of Beth–shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord.”
This sounds like something a group of teenagers might do on a dare, or just to be rebellious. I can imagine them sitting around saying to each other, “I wonder what’s in there?” And then, when the temptation was too strong to bear, they removed the Mercy Seat. They removed the covering where sin was atoned, to look for idols and satisfy their morbid curiosity.
Only the High Priest was allowed to approach the Ark once a year, only the Kohathites were allowed to carry the Ark covered, but looking into it was never ever a part of worship. Many of the men died because they disobeyed the word of the Lord and the order of heaven.
Let me conclude with a portion from a sermon by Charles Simeon. “What might not the Philistines and the Beth-Shemites have obtained, if, instead of sending the ark from them through slavish terror, they had humbled themselves before it, and sought mercy of the Lord? But so it is with persons who are filled with slavish fear; they wish to banish that which inspires them with terror, rather than to part with their sin, which alone makes God an object of dread.
“Hence they will resort to any thing for peace, rather than to God himself, who alone can give them peace. But let this be a fixed principle in our minds; that, whatever judgments we either feel or fear, we will not entertain hard thoughts of God. Let us bear in mind, that he is infinitely more willing to give than we are to ask; and that those who ‘come to him in the name of the Lord Jesus he will in no wise cast out.'”
Music: Praise to the Lord by Summit Worship.
Prayer Request: Please pray for the work at Nkhoma Hospital.
Craig’s Catechism: How the Church is to be Known.
- Question 311: How is that? Answer: Because we and they are spiritually separated.
- Question 312: But they make the Word and the Ordinances unfruitful. Answer: Not to us, but to themselves only.
- Question 313: Why is remission of sins put here? Answer: Because it is proper to the Church and its members.
All my best,
And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath–jearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the ark of the Lord; come ye down, and fetch it up to you.1 Samuel 6:21
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