Useful Bible Studies > 1 Samuel Commentary > chapter 6

The Philistinesí strange gifts to God

1 Samuel 6:4-6

Somehow, the Philistines (people in Philistia) knew what God did to free his people from Egypt. There were terrible troubles in Egypt until Pharaoh (the king of Egypt) allowed Israelís people to leave there.

That had happened several centuries earlier; however, the Philistines were comparing that situation with their own situation. The rulers of Egypt had refused to allow Godís people to leave Egypt. The rulers of Philistia had refused to allow the sacred box called the ark to leave Philistia. The ark, like the people, was holy; in other words, they both belonged to God.

The leaders of religion in Philistia said that their rulers had Ďhard heartsí. In other words, they were too proud to change their minds, as Pharaoh had been. However, they must now change their minds and they must allow the ark to go back to Israel. Otherwise, everyone in Philistia would suffer even worse troubles.

The rulers of Philistia must now be humble and they must give honour to Israelís God. That is what the priests in Philistia advised. Also, they must give a gift to Israelís God, to show that they were sorry.

The gift that the priests in Philistia advised was very strange. We must remember that the people in Philistia followed a wrong religion with false gods and magic. They had seen that Israelís God allowed an illness, and the animals called rats, to attack them. So, they made gold images in the shape of such things. They are disgusting things, and Israelís religion considers such things unclean. However, those gold images were the gifts that the Philistines sent back to Israel with the ark. They intended those gifts as a humble act, to confess that they were guilty of wrong acts against Godís holy ark.

Next part: How the Philistines sent the ark back to Israel (1 Samuel 6:7-9)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.