God is Glorious in His Wrath and Mercy

1 Samuel 5v1-5

When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod.

Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day. (ESV)

Who do we go to in the battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil? To the world or to our God, who is glorious in both His wrath and mercy? We must go to the God of mercy to help in times of trouble.

Consider the following:

  1. God is Glorious in His restraint
    The ark is captured as war booty and certainly paraded before the people of Ashdod before being put in Dagon’s temple. Imagine them blaspheming the God of Israel, but they did not perish because of His kindness and mercy. If you are not a believer, flee to God for salvation. I you are a believer and are guilty of worshipping idols, then repent of your sin quickly.

  2. God is gracious in His Communication
    God spoke in a way the Philistines could understand in the prostration and later dismemberment of their god Dagon: prostrate in worship before Him or rebel and die. With greater knowledge comes greater punishment if we reject Him. The Philistines were unwilling to repent, even after only the trunk of Dagon remained. They avoided the threshold of Dagon after developing a superstition that it was the threshold that caused their idol to be broken – not the God of Israel. They did not repent but instead repaired their idol.

    Lessons learnt:
    a) When God uses the megaphone of pain, do not attempt to make distance between you and God, but rather repent. You cannot run away from Him. Make peace with Him while there is still time. If you are placed under church discipline, do not run away but rather walk the road of repentance.
    b) God is still the same – He hasn’t changed and still metes out affliction on those who afflict His people. The fake Jesus (an idol made by people) is weak, but the real Son of God is not weak. God still hates sin.

  3. God is Glorious in His Deliverance
    When the Ark was taken, it looked as if all was over. Even though the Philistines took the Ark, our God turned total defeat into glorious victory. It was the Lord who smote the Philistines and saw to it that the Ark was returned to Israel.
    When Jesus suffered on the cross, He did it alone. He needs no man to deliver.
    Look to Him for knowledge and wisdom. Ungodly secular sources will not save the day. Do you want to know how to live? Or improve your marriage? Then go to God’s Word and trust in His wisdom alone – not that of men.

Repenting may initially be bitter, but the end will be sweet. Not repenting may seem sweet, but the end will be bitter. One day we will all glorify Him – either as vessels of wrath or of mercy. Which will you be?