“Thus far the Lord has helped us”
She was speaking of the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord God in the days of Eli the priest. The Israelite army had carried the ark with them into battle with the Philistines, thinking by doing so they were carrying with them the presence of God.
But they were wrong. The physical ark was not God. Their manner of treatment of it was little better than a good luck charm. They may as well each had a rabbit’s foot in their pockets or an amulet about their necks.
Thus, the battle did not go as the Israelites had hoped. The Philistines defeated them soundly, and they even captured the ark. The invading army carried the ark away into their own country. The glory of God had departed from Israel.
The Ark in Temple of Dagon
The Philistines transported the ark to their own city of Ashdod and placed it in the temple of Dagon, which was one of their own gods. They set the ark beside the statue of the idol. Early the next morning when the priests of Dagon entered the temple, they found that the statue of their idol had fallen face down on the floor, prostrate before the ark of God.
The workers returned the statue back to its original standing position, but the following morning the statue was again flat on the floor. This time it had fallen into the doorway, with its head and its hands broken by the fall over the threshold of the door. Only the torso remained intact.
The writer of the account adds an interesting note concerning this event by saying, “That is why, to this day, the priests of Dagon and all who enter the temple in Ashdod do not step on the threshold” (1 Samuel 5:5).
The Epidemic of Tumors
But the troubles were only beginning for the people of Ashdod.