The true God would not endure that an idol should stand erect in the same temple with his ark, therefore down it must go. The ark was brought into the house as a captive, but immediately became a Conqueror. If the Lord, by his Spirit, comes into the human heart, sin soon falls before him.
It was a wretched god that needed setting up. If idolatry did not make men foolish, they would see the absurdity of their conduct.
The second fall was greater than the first, for the fish-god was broken, and only his scaly tail remained. The head and hands which symbolised wisdom and power were dashed to atoms. Thus does grace in the heart destroy the sovereignty and energy of sin.
This disease was not only extremely painful but was meant to put the Philistines to shame, because they insolently dared to seize the ark of God. How glad they would have been to be rid of their captive, which even in captivity triumphed over them.
In the Psalms we have a summary of this part of Israel’s history. Let us read it—Psa_78:48-66.
Shiloh was abandoned, the ark never returned to it, and the place became such a desolation that not one stone was left upon another. The candlestick was removed out of its place.
And the Lord
The wife of Phinehas was too much burdened with a heavier sorrow to be able to lament for her husband.
Not long shall wickedness triumph. God is evermore victorious.
The heathen shall fear the name of the Lord.”
; 1Sa_6:12-15; 1Sa_6:19-21
Right wisely did they judge that some acknowledgment of their fault must accompany the return of the ark. If men would be forgiven they must in all possible ways make reparation: even heathens feel this.
It is probable that a plague of mice had devoured their crops while hemorrhoids had afflicted their bodies, they therefore acknowledged Jehovah’s hand in both judgments.
How wondrously God guided these poor beasts; they went of their own accord away from their calves, lamenting them as they went along, and without a driver they chose the road to the nearest city of the Levites. Who can doubt a special providence in this matter?
Astonished above measure they must have been to see it brought without human hands to them. God would have them see his hand conspicuously revealed.
God who smote his enemies for their blasphemy, also smites his own people for their presumption. He will be had in reverence of all them that are about him. Let us never trifle with holy things.
Thus instead of confessing their own sin, they laid the blame at the door of God’s exceeding great holiness, even as bad men nowadays complain of the preciseness of religion.