The Ark Properly Understood

Read: 1 Samuel 5:1-12

The men who did not die were struck with tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven. (v. 12)

My family recently enjoyed a special night out at the movie theater. Seated in the second row of a small theater, we were frustrated when the front row was rushed by a group of disruptive boys. I waited for the staff to handle it, but none came. Instead, I decided to use my “substitute teacher voice” and told them to return to their own seats so everyone could enjoy the movie. And, they did! People recognize authority and power when they witness it.

This is exactly what happened when the Philistines captured the ark of God and brought it to their own city. They did not treat it like a charm as the Israelites had, but like a prize. At first they did not understand that the ark was where the Lord was “enthroned on the cherubim” (1 Sam. 4:4), indicating the very presence and power of God. With devastation, they realized their mistake as deathly tumors broke out among the population keeping the ark. With clarity, the Philistines saw that the ark was not their prize but the presence, authority, and almighty power of God—and it did not belong with them.

With God’s presence comes power, for good or for ill. If we understand this, our successes in life can be acknowledged as fully the result of the extraordinary power that belongs to God (2 Cor. 4:7 NRSV). Let us hold it all loosely, with careful hands raised to God.

As you pray, look for the power of God evident in your life.

About the Author

Katy Sundararajan is a specialized minister in the Reformed Church in America. She has garnered her pastoral perspectives from posts as a college chaplain, a missionary, an international student advisor, and a higher education and leadership ministries program coordinator.

This entry is part 7 of 31 in the series 1 Samuel: Trusting God through Big Transitions