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Week 1 May 2024, Devotion Part 1

The men did so, and took two milch cows and yoked them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. And they put the ark of the LORD on the cart and the box with the golden mice and the images of their tumors. 1 Samuel 6:10-11


The ancients had ways of exorcising their ills that strike us as humorous. It is permissible to laugh if we let them shake their heads at our culture’s harebrained schemes. The main consideration is that the living God worked out His purpose in concert with the primitive concepts of their day and His timeless lesson endures.


Prior to the monarchy, Samuel was the nation’s judge. Israel was at war with the Philistines and fared poorly. So the elders sent for the Ark of the Covenant at Shiloh. When it arrived in camp, a great shout went up. The Philistines figured that a powerful idol had joined Israel’s ranks and they plotted its capture. They succeeded and brought the ark into the house of their chief god, Dagon. They placed it beside his image but were startled to find him lying on his face before the ark the next morning. His nervous priests gave him a pep talk and put him back in place. Sadly, Dagon shattered their confidence by falling apart in front of the ark. From then on it wore out its welcome fast.  (Part 1 of 2)


Comment:  I absolutely love meaty OT tales that strengthen our faith and commitment to obedience for Christ-followers.. This particular story is fun inasmuch as it features a  merman, hemorrhoids, and milch cows. “Milch” is the Swiss-German word for milk, so I was naturally curious why the translators didn’t say “milk.”  As it turned out, these cows were suckling their calves and had never been yoked for work.  Dagon, chief deity of the Philistines, was also known as fish god because his head and upper torso were human, and the lower part fish.  His name derived from the word “dag” which meant fish. To the pagans he was the father of Baal and guarantor of crop fertility, and many  nations, including Assyria, worshiped him. Its capital was Nineveh and their carved fish god had a surprise coming.  Jonah, the famously reluctant prophet, was thrown overboard from a  storm-tossed ship and traveled inside a large live fish toward his God appointment to offer the Ninevites the redemptive grace he didn’t think they deserved.  At their penitent king’s direction, even the cows wore sackcloth…As our story unfolds, the Philistine milch cows pull the cart across the border and the Israelites are jubilant.  Impressed by their enemies’ innovative method of transportation, they promptly ape it and build a new cart to relocate the ark to Jerusalem. At one point the oxen stumble and the driver Uzzah touches it to keep it secure. He dies on the spot and a shocked David is so angry at God that he names the place Perez-uzzah, meaning “to burst out against Uzzah.”  According to Numbers 4:15 only sons of the Levite Kohath were to carry the ark out of camp, and were forbidden to touch the holy objects lest they die.  Exodus 25:12-15 gave explicit instructions that the ark was to be carried only by its specifically designed poles.  So, the Christ-follower in me has to squirm a bit as she deals with God’s rightful jealousy for His holiness and the “reckless” love, as we sing, that insists on giving truly amazing grace to the most unlikely candidates on her list – and perhaps yours, too.

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