There are many passages like this one in the books of the Bible that deal with Israelís history. Such passages have the style of legal records of these events. They are the kind of passages that you might expect to find in a countryís official registers.
Here, the passage records the gifts that the people in Philistia gave to God. It explains the purpose of those gifts. That is, to confess that they had dealt in a wrong manner with the sacred object called the ark. It carefully records the names of the 5 principal towns in Philistia, on whose behalf the rulers gave those gifts.
Then, the passage adds evidence that the report is accurate. It explains where a person may see the large rock. Long after people had died, the rock would remain as evidence of this event, in front of God.
Other passages in the Bible record a variety of information in the same careful manner. We may find the history of important families in Israel, or the most important facts of its kingsí lives. Elsewhere, there are records of Israelís borders, and of the land that each family received. Such passages are often not easy to read. We may ask why the Bible records such things.
One answer is that God himself keeps records. Revelation 20:12-15 refers to the books of his official records. He keeps those books for legal purposes. That is, for the day when he will act as the judge of all people.
God records things that people do not see. He records whether people are truly loyal to him (for example, 1 Kings 15:3). He sees their evil deeds (1 Kings 16:25-26). He knows what they really care about (1 Kings 11:1-6). He has evidence of all these things.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.