Verse 61. And delivered his strength into captivity. The ark was captured by the Philistines in battle, only because the Lord for the punishment of Israel chose to deliver it into their hands, otherwise they could have had no power at all against it. The token of the divine presence is here poetically called "his strength;", and, indeed, the presence of the Lord is his strength among his people. It was a black day when the mercyseat was removed, when the cherubim took flight, and Israel's palladium was carried away.
And his glory into the enemy's hand. The ark was the place for the revealed glory of God, and his enemies exulted greatly when they bore it away into their own cities. Nothing could more clearly have shown the divine displeasure. It seemed to say that Jehovah would sooner dwell among his avowed adversaries than among so false a people as Israel; he would sooner bear the insults of Philistia than the treacheries of Ephraim. This was a fearful downfall for the favoured nation, and it was followed by dire judgments of most appalling nature. When God is gone all is gone. No calamity can equal the withdrawal of the divine presence from a people. O Israel, how art thou brought low! Who shall help thee now that thy God has left thee!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 61. And delivered his strength into captivity, etc. He calls the ark the strength of God, not because the virtue of God was shut up therein, or was so bound to it that he could not, unless through it, be powerful and strong: but because his presence, whose symbol the ark was, had always revealed its virtue and might to Israel, in the perpetual defence and various deliverances of that people. After the same manner he calls it the beauty or glory of God, because God by his own presence declared his glory among the people, and desired that it should be conspicuous by this external symbol. Mollerus.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS