1 Samuel 6:6 - Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He had severely dealt with them, did they not allow the people to go, and they departed?
The Philistines had taken the ark of God from the Israelites. And, obviously, God didn't like that. So...He made that known via death or painful tumors (this word in the Hebrew can also be translated as hemmoroids) (Strong's H6076). Most of the Philistines were very ready to send it back to the Israelites by this point. It does seem though that in this verse there were at least a few who wanted to keep the ark of God.
However, someone was smart enough to learn a lesson from the mistakes of others. It might have been something like this:
In a mild panic:
The Egyptians and Pharaoh had hardened their heart to the will of God and look what happened to them! 10 plauges! 10! Do you really want to deal with more than these tumors? How about we add gnats and frogs and the death of our first born to the list? That sounds like a plan! Seriously...it took the Egyptians 10 plagues to figure out that they needed to listen to what the God of Israel wanted...can we just stop at 1? The God of Israel is going to get what He wants one way or the other...
Why don't we learn from the mistakes of others? After all, "It is much cheaper to learn by other people's experience than by our own" (Henry). And I'm not just talking about watching the people around us. The Philistines were not even God's people and they knew He meant business. They just had to look at history.
We ARE God's people, we have access to our entire history...and yet, we make the same mistakes that are written there for all to see. David had an affair and God made sure he learned from that mistake. Yet, we see affairs happening within our churches like it isn't a big deal. Soddom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their wicked ways...also known as homosexuality. Yet, some churches are allowing homosexuals to be ordained and preach from the pulpit...without repentance. Ananias and Sapphira lied and they died on the spot. Yet, we lie everyday and usually don't think twice about it. Jonah ran from the will of God and was eaten by a whale! Yet, we go to church, listen to the sermon, and go home unchanged, completely disregarding what God has asked of us, what we are called to do. I could probably go on and on with more examples, but these will do for now.
Do you see it?? We have been given a history and we are letting history repeat itself every single day. We do the same things and expect the outcome to be different. God gave us stories like this so that we wouldn't make the same mistakes. The Philistines knew He meant business and they didn't want history to repeat itself. We should live the same way!
I challenge you today to learn from someone else's experience before you have to pay the price. The Bible is full of wonderful history and experience but so is life. Look to the Word but look to others as well. Chances are, you can find someone who struggled previously with what you are struggling with today and they can help you through it by sharing their own experience. I've said it before and I'll say it again, we were created for community. If you don't have a good community now, try to find one! My hubby and I tried several churches around our area but never found one where we felt the community was healthy, growing, and supportive. Now, we travel 45 minutes each way on Sundays to go to a small town church where we feel loved and accepted. And let me tell you what - if we are stumbling and someone notices, they will tell us to straighten up and give us the tools we need to do so. That is what community is about! Don't settle - find somewhere that community is priority or make it your priority to create a better community experience!