I Samuel 6:12-21

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Text: I Samuel 6:12-21



Every once in a while our children get out of line and need to be corrected. Sometimes someone in church gets out of line and needs to be corrected. Sometimes one who is saved even gets out of line with God and God has to correct him. We find such a situation in I Samuel 6:10-21 where we see how God corrected this situation. The Bible teaches that there are some things that God's people simply cannot do.


I Samuel 6:10-12 - (10) And the men did so; and took two milch kine [i.e. milk cows - they had calves that they were nursing], and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home: (11) And they laid the ark of the Lord upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods.

Emerods. From a word meaning to swell, meaning tumors or boils. Perhaps the sores were the symptoms of bubonic plague, the result of mice ravaging the land (6:5).

(12) And the kine [i.e. cows] took the straight way to the way of Bethshemesh, and went along the highway, lowing [i.e. mooing] as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Bethshemesh.

Beth-shemesh was a levitical city of the Israelites, eight mi E of Ekron, 15 mi W of Jerusalem.


I Samuel 6:13-18 - (13) And they of Bethshemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley: and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it.

Wheat harvest would make this late May or early June.

(14) And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Bethshemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they clave [i.e. split, chopped up] the wood of the cart, and offered the kine [i.e. cows] a burnt offering unto the Lord. (15) And the Levites took down the ark of the Lord, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Bethshemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the Lord. (16) And when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day. (17) And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the Lord; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;

Askelon (Ashkelon) is located on the Mediterranean coast, 9.5 mi (15 km) S of Ashdod. Gaza is also on the coast, 12 mi (19 km) S of Askelon. There is no indication that the ark was in Askelon or Gaza, but they came under the plague that fell on all the Philistines (6:4).

(18) And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fenced [i.e. fortified] cities, and of country villages, even unto the great stone of Abel, whereon they set down the ark of the Lord: which stone remaineth unto this day in the field of Joshua, the Bethshemite.


I Samuel 6:19 - (19) . . . They had looked into the ark of the Lord. . . .

They looked into the ark. Literally, they looked with profane curiosity. They forgot the difference between that which was holy and that which was common. God could not allow them to get away with this.

Numbers 4:5-6 - 5 And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it: 6 And shall put thereon the covering of badgers' skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue, and shall put in the staves thereof.

Numbers 4:15 - 15 And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation.

Numbers 4:20 - 20 But they [i.e. the Levites] shall not go in to see when the holy things are covered, lest they die.


I Samuel 6:19 - (19) And he smote [i.e. struck down] the men of Bethshemesh . . . even he smote [i.e. struck down, put to death] of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.

Perhaps you are asking yourself, Why did God respond this way?

1. There is a principle in the Scripture:

Luke 12:48 - But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

This principle is illustrated in James 3:1 .

James 3:1 - My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

2. Although ignorant, the Philistines attempted to show reverence for the ark of God.

3. The Israelites profaned the ark by looking into it.

The Israelites had the Law. The Levites also were living among them and should have known better.

4. The ark was sacred and not to be touched.

Numbers 4:5 , 15, 20 which we have already looked at.

Only Aaron and his sons could see and touch the ark. Even the Levites, although they were supposed to handle the ark, could not touch it directly.

5. God will teach men to fear Him.

The Tower of Babel

Genesis 11:1-9 - (1) And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. (2) And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. (3) And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. (4) And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. (5) And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. (6) And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. (7) Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. (8) So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. (9) Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.


II Samuel 6:6-7 - (6) And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. (7) And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.


II Chronicles 26:16-21 - (16) But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense. (17) And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the Lord, that were valiant men: (18) And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to bum incense unto the Lord, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to bum incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the Lord God. (19) Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, from beside the incense altar. (20) And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the Lord had smitten him. (21) And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the Lord: and Jotham his son was over the king's house, judging the people of the land.

Ananias and Sapphira

Acts 5:1-11 - (1) But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, (2) And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. (3) But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? (4) Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. (5) And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. (6) And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. (7) And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. (8) And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. (9) Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. (10) Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. (11) And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

The Corinthian believers abusing the Lord's supper

I Corinthians 11:30-32 - (30) For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. (31) For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. (32) But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

People pry irreverently into things which do not concern them. We must be so careful not to go beyond what God has revealed in the Scriptures.

7. Examples of irreverence among believers today.

1) Swearing, cursing

2) Allowing oneself to live according to the old nature and not according to the Spirit

I Thessalonians 5:19 - Quench not the Spirit.

Ephesians 4:30 - And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Galatians 5:16 - This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Romans 6:12-13 - (12) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. (13) Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

Romans 13:14 - But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

3) Worldliness - both personal and ecclesiastical

James 4:4 - Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Romans 12:2 - And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

4) Harming our bodies which are the temples of the Holy Spirit with things such as tobacco, alcohol, narcotics, inadequate rest, failure to take a day off each week, over-eating.

5) Making light of sin

Proverbs 6:16-19 - (16) These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: (17) A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, (18) An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, (19) A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

6) Not keeping God in His proper place

7) Not being fully yielded to God

8) Doing God's work in a worldly manner

Contemporary Christian music, Cooperative evangelism, Slander and gossip.


I Samuel 6:20-21 - (20) And the men of Bethshemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God? and to whom shall he go up from us? (21) And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjathjearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the ark of the Lord; come ye down, and fetch it up to you.

Kiriath-jearim is located 10 mi (16 km) W of Jerusalem. The ark was not returned to Shiloh, for archaeological data indicates that the city was destroyed about 1050 B.C. (cf. Jer. 26:9), perhaps after the battle at Aphek (1 Sam. 4).


God has given to believers the privilege of approaching the throne of grace boldly, but a word of warning is in order. Just because God has given this privilege to us does not make us equal with God. It also does not mean that we can approach God on our terms. We must remember our proper place. He is the creator. We are part of His creation. Let's not be like those who are given an inch and take a mile. Let's confess and forsake sin.