1 Samuel 5:6
The LORD’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors.
1 Samuel 5:9
But after they had moved it, the LORD’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors.
1 Samuel 5:12
Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.
Contemporary English Version
The LORD caused a lot of trouble for the people of Ashdod and their neighbors. He made sores break out all over their bodies, and everyone was in a panic.
Good News Translation
The LORD punished the people of Ashdod severely and terrified them. He punished them and the people in the surrounding territory by causing them to have tumors.
The mental picture of a heavy hand is that of a huge person pressing down on a weaker person. A heavy hand that cannot be wrestled away. A heavy hand squeezes you and if it persists it breaks you. A heavy hand is huge, extra huge, muscular, and rough. A heavy hand like that of a wrestler who has never lost any game.
A heavy hand symbolizes God’s punishment against people. A heavy hand represents a covert operation. A heavy hand may not come after the announcement or in a noisy and visible way, but you feel the weight and you know it is God acting against you.
Israel had a fight with the Philistines and they lost the battle. The Philistines discovered that Israelites performed better at war when they came with the Ark of the covenant. The Philistines, therefore, stole the Ark of the Covenant and went with it to their territory.
The Ark of the Covenant was the box that carried the Ten Commandments written by God. On top of this box that carried the Ten Commandments was a carving of two Angels facing each other. Between these two angels was a bright light that was the glory of God. This was the mercy seat. This was the presence of God.
The Ark of the Covenant, therefore, represented the presence of God. The Ark of the Covenant was overlaid with gold. It was materially valuable and spiritually signifying Divinity. Therefore, when the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant to their territory they underestimated its power and significance.
When the Ark of the Covenant arrived in the Philistine territory we learn several lessons. First is that God is gracious and highly sympathetic. God forgave the Philistines for touching leave alone taking the Ark of the Covenant. Anyone who touches the Ark of the Covenant and is not a priest on duty or High Priest would die on the spot, yet the Philistines didn’t die. God was very kind to them in their spiritual carelessness and foolishness.
Secondly, we learn that when God is silent and seems to support or cooperate with your foolishness do not be so sure. When God allowed the Ark to be taken to Philistine territory it did not mean that they had won, or that He approved it. God cooperated with them and went along yet He was not in agreement with that move. Do not assume that the silence of God is approval for what you have done. A time is coming when you will discover that you misunderstood the silence and cooperation of God.
God has been silent and seems to cooperate with the current wanton rampage by evil and the devil. The silence of God as evil goes on around us does not mean He approves of it. The silence of God when people pray and lie in His name does not mean that He has given approval. The silence of God when evil schemes seem to succeed does not mean that the scheme is His choice. Some day He will act decisively!
You went for a sinning spree and God did not kill you, do not think He likes it or approves it. His silence should not deceive you. In fact, when you think that God is silent, it is because you are not paying attention to the Holy Spirit who all along has been whispering to you.
Philistines did not hear God speak. Philistines did not see God act. Philistines started experiencing the heavy hand of God against them. Their idols were crashing and bowing to the Ark of God. The population started suffering inexplainable tumors and diseases. The silent God was moving around and by actions only proving that He didn’t approve of all that had happened.
Sometimes God does not punish people loudly and dramatically. Sometimes God does it covertly and effectively. God just does things that cause everyone to Know that it is Him. Philistines acknowledged that God is great after His heavy hand was against them.
God may not loudly and dramatically warn you against this or that. But God can bring losses, diseases, and confusion until you acknowledge that God’s heavy hand is on you. God may cause issues to crowd your life and no solution in sight until you notice that it is His heavy hand that is against you.
May God’s heavy hand be against those who act against us on behalf of the evil one. May God save us from His heavy hand, in Jesus’ name, Amen!