1 Samuel 5

The Ark in Ashdod and Ekron

1 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod.
2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon.
3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place.
4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained.
5 That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.
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.[a]
7 When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.”
8 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?” They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.
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.[b]
10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.”
11 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it[c] will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy on it.
12 Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.

1 Samuel 5 Commentary

Chapter 5

Dagon is broken before the ark. (1-5) The Philistine smitten. (6-12)

Verses 1-5 See the ark's triumph over Dagon. Thus the kingdom of Satan will certainly fall before the kingdom of Christ, error before truth, profaneness before godliness, and corruption before grace in the hearts of the faithful. When the interests of religion seem to be ready to sink, even then we may be confident that the day of their triumph will come. When Christ, the true Ark of the covenant, really enters the heart of fallen man, which is indeed Satan's temple, all idols will fall, every endeavour to set them up again will be vain, sin will be forsaken, and unrighteous gain restored; the Lord will claim and possess the throne. But pride, self-love, and worldly lusts, though dethroned and crucified, still remain within us, like the stump of Dagon. Let us watch and pray that they may not prevail. Let us seek to have them more entirely destroyed.

Verses 6-12 The hand of the Lord was heavy upon the Philistines; he not only convinced them of their folly, but severely chastised their insolence. Yet they would not renounce Dagon; and instead of seeking God's mercy, they desired to get clear of his ark. Carnal hearts, when they smart under the judgments of God, would rather, if it were possible, put him far from them, than enter into covenant or communion with him, and seek him for their friend. But their devices to escape the Divine judgments only increase them. Those that fight against God will soon have enough of it.

Cross References 15

  • 1. S 1 Samuel 4:1; 1 Samuel 7:12
  • 2. S Joshua 11:22; S Joshua 13:3
  • 3. S Judges 16:23; Isaiah 2:18; Isaiah 19:1; Isaiah 46:1
  • 4. Isaiah 19:1; Isaiah 40:20; Isaiah 41:7; Isaiah 46:7; Jeremiah 10:4
  • 5. Ezekiel 6:6; Micah 1:7
  • 6. Zephaniah 1:9
  • 7. ver 7; S Exodus 9:3; Psalms 32:4; Acts 13:11
  • 8. ver 11; 2 Samuel 6:7; Psalms 78:66
  • 9. S Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 28:27; 1 Samuel 6:5
  • 10. S Judges 16:18
  • 11. ver 11; S Joshua 11:22
  • 12. S Exodus 14:24; ver 6,11; Deuteronomy 2:15; 1 Samuel 7:13; Psalms 78:66
  • 13. S Joshua 13:3
  • 14. ver 8; ver 6,8-9
  • 15. S 1 Samuel 4:8

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Hebrew; Septuagint and Vulgate "tumors. And rats appeared in their land, and there was death and destruction throughout the city"
  • [b]. Or "with tumors in the groin" (see Septuagint)
  • [c]. Or "he"

Chapter Summary


This chapter relates how that the ark being brought by the Philistines to Ashdod, and placed in the temple of their idol, that fell down before it, 1Sa 5:1-5, that the hand of the Lord was upon the men of Ashdod, and smote them with emerods, 1Sa 5:6,7 and being carried to Gath, the men of Gath were smitten likewise with the same, 1Sa 5:8,9, and after that the men of Ekron, whither it also was carried, 1Sa 5:10-12.

1 Samuel 5 Commentaries

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