The Ark Was Captured
1 Samuel 4-6
“Lord, there is no one like you. You are great; your name is great in power.” Jeremiah 10:6
The ark of God (also called “the ark of the covenant”) was an important symbol in the lives of God’s people. Not only was the ark the original container for the Ten Commandments, it symbolized God’s presence with His people.
In Exodus 25, God gave Moses instructions for creating the ark. It was made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. God forbade anyone from touching the ark, so it was carried by two poles. God would speak to Moses from between two golden cherubim on top of the ark, which was called the mercy seat. (See Num. 7:89.)
During the time of the judges, the Philistines were a near-constant threat to Israel. Under Samuel’s leadership, the Israelites went out to fight the Philistines. But Israel was defeated because of their sin.
The elders of Israel realized that God had allowed their defeat. He hadn’t fought for them against the Philistines. So they did what seemed logical to them; they took the ark—the symbol of God’s presence—and carried it to the battlefield. But the ark was not a good luck charm. Not only was Israel defeated, the Philistines captured the ark and killed Eli’s sons. When Eli heard the news, he fell over and died.
Having won the victory, the Philistines concluded that their god, Dagon, was better than the God of Israel. They moved the ark to Dagon’s temple, where God showed His power over Dagon. (See 1 Sam. 5:1-5.) As the ark moved between Philistine cities, God afflicted the people and made them sick. The message was clear: No one is like the LORD. God is greater than everything and everyone.
The Philistines returned the ark, which was a great encouragement to God’s people. The ark of God reminded the Israelites that God was with them. Years later, God gave His people something greater than a sign that He was with them; God gave them His Son Jesus—God in the flesh. One of Jesus’ names is Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
Check this session’s Activity Page and Big Picture Card as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.
BIBLE STORY SUMMARY:
- The Philistines captured the ark of God.
- A statue of the Philistine’s false god fell down before the ark of God.
- The people became sick when the ark of God was kept in their town.
- God showed the Philistines that He is the one true God.
- The Philistines returned the ark of God to the Israelites.
KEY PASSAGE: Jeremiah 10:6
BIG PICTURE QUESTION:
Is anything greater than God? No, God is greater than everything.
FAMILY DISCUSSION STARTERS:
- Why did the Israelites take the ark of God into battle?
- How did God show His power to the Philistines?
- How did the ark of God remind His people that He was with them?
- Why do we not need an ark to remind us that God is with us?
Search online and identify a people group that does not worship God. Find their location on a map. Pray for people to take the gospel to this people group so they may be saved.