Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: 1 Samuel
Book: 1 Samuel
Chapter: 6

The Philistines consult how to send back the Ark. (1-9) They
bring it to Bethshemesh. (10-18) The people smitten for looking
into the Ark. (19-21)

1-9 Seven months the Philistines were punished with the
presence of the Ark; So long it was a Plague to them, because
they would not send it home sooner. Sinners lengthen out their
own miseries By refusing to part with their sins. The Israelites
made No effort to recover the Ark. Alas! where shall we find
concern for religion prevail above all other matters? In times
of public calamity we fear for ourselves, for our families, and
for our country; but who cares for the Ark of God? We are
favoured with the Gospel, but it is treated with neglect or
contempt. We need not wonder if it should be taken from us; to
many persons this, though the heavies of calamities, would
occasion No grief. There are multitudes whom any profession
would please as Well as that of Christianity. But there are
those who value the House, the Word, and the ministry of God
above their richest possessions, who dread the loss of these
blessings more than Death. How willing bad men are to shift off
their convictions, and when they are in trouble, to believe it
is a Chance that happens; and that the rod has No voice which
they should hear or heed!

10-18 These two Kine knew their owner, their great Owner, whom
Hophni and Phinehas knew not. God's Providence takes notice even
of brute creatures, and serves its own purposes By them. When
the reapers saw the Ark, they rejoiced; their joy for that was
greater than the joy of Harvest. The return of the Ark, and the
revival of holy ordinances, after days of restraint and trouble,
are matters of great joy.

19-21 It is a great affront to God, for vain men to pry into,
and meddle with the secret things which belong not to them, De
29:29; Col 2:18. Man was ruined By desiring forbidden
knowledge. God will not suffer his Ark to be profaned. Be not
deceived, God is not mocked. Those that will not fear his
Goodness, and reverently use the tokens of his Grace, shall be
made to feel his Justice. The number smitten is expressed in an
unusual manner in the original, and it is probable that it means
1170. They desire to be rid of the Ark. Foolish men run from one
extreme to the other. They should rather have asked, How may we
have peace with God, and recover his favour? Mic 6:6,7. Thus,
when the Word of God Works with terror On sinners' consciences,
they, instead of taking the blame and shame to themselves,
quarrel with the Word, and Put that from them. Many stifle their
convictions, and Put Salvation away from them.