A. The Ark in Philistia.
1. The ark in the house of Dagon:
a. How did the Philistines account for their victory over Israel? Cf. Judges 16:23.
b. What was the real cause of their victory (Deut. 28:25, 26; Judges 2:14, 15)?
c. Why did they place the ark in the house of their god, Dagon? What did this reveal of their attitude toward Jehovah? Cf. Isaiah 36:18-20, 37:10-13.
d. Did the Philistines treat the ark this way because they were ignorant of Jehovah’s power (I Sam. 4:6-8, 6:6; Rom. 1:19-25)? Is idolatry ever a matter of ignorance?
e. What was the significance of the fact that Dagon fell on its face before the ark (Is. 19:1, 46:1, 2; Ex. 20:3)?
f. Why were Dagon’s head and hands broken off the second time (Ps. 115:4-8)?
g. What was the reaction of the Philistines to these things? Did they recognize Jehovah’s power?
2. The ark in the cities of Philistia:
a. Why were the Philistines so reluctant to return the ark and why did they keep moving it from city to city (Psalm 10:4, 14:1)?
b. Look ephemerids in a Bible Dictionary and describe this plague.
c. When the Philistines returned the ark why did they include five golden emerods and five golden mice?
d. What was God teaching the Philistines by these signs and miracles (Is. 43:11-13; Dan. 4:25b)?
e. What does He teach us by these things (Ex. 20:5; Is. 42:8)?
f. What was the effect of these mighty works upon the Philistines (Rom. 1:25; II Cor. 4:4)?
B. The return of the Ark.
1. The plan of the priests:
a. Is the length of time that the ark was in Philistia an indication of the hardness of their heathen hearts?
b. What was the advice of the priests with regard to the return of the ark and why did they mention Pharaoh and the Egyptians in advising their Lords?
c. Was the trespass offering of golden mice and golden emerods a proof that some of the Philistines had been converted? Cf. I Sam. 7:7.
d. How did the plan of the Philistines to use two milk cows which had recently calved to pull the cart with the ark prove the hardness of their unbelief? Cf. Ex. 17:7.
2. The result of their plan:
a. Did this plan proceed as the Philistines expected and hoped? Why do you think the lords of the Philistines followed the ark all the way to Bethshemesh?
b. How do vss. 12 & 14 emphasize the miracle that took place?
c. What was evident from the behavior of the cows who pulled the cart to Bethshemesh (Ps. 50:10)?
d. Estimate on a map the distance the cart travelled on its trip to Bethshemesh.
C. The sin of the men of Bethshemesh:
1. The terrible wrath of God revealed:
a. How did the Lord punish the men of Bethshemesh that day?
b. What sin did the men of Bethshemesh commit that warranted such terrible punishment from the Lord (Numbers 4:5, 6, 15)? Cf. also II Sam. 6:1-7.
c. How was the attitude of the men of Bethshemesh toward the ark and toward Jehovah like that of the Philistines (Deut. 4:12, 12:30-32; Acts 17:29; I Tim. 6:16)?
d. What was lacking in their attitude (Ps. 89:7; Heb. 12:28, 29)?
2. The reaction of the inhabitants of Bethshemesh:
a. Was their reaction correct (Ez. 33:11)?
b. What was the correct answer to the question of the men of Bethshemesh when they were smitten by the Lord (Ps. 15:1, 2, 24:3-5, etc.)?
c. What does the sin of the men of Bethshemesh teach us about our worship of God (Deut. 4:24; John 4:24)? May we ever decide for ourselves how we shall worship God? What is our standard for the worship of Jehovah?