Duking it out with Dagon

Duking it out with Dagon

After the Philistines captured the Ark of God, they took it from the battleground at Ebenezer to the town of Ashdod. They carried the Ark of God into the temple of Dagon and placed it beside an idol of Dagon. – 1 Samuel 5:1-2

1 Samuel 5:3-12

 3 But when the citizens of Ashdod went to see it the next morning, Dagon had fallen with his face to the ground in front of the Ark of the LORD! So they took Dagon and put him in his place again.

 4 But the next morning, the same thing happened – Dagon had fallen face down before the Ark of the LORD again. This time his head and hands had broken off and were lying in the doorway. Only the trunk of his body was left intact.

 5 That is why to this day, neither the priests of Dagon nor anyone who enters the temple of Dagon in Ashdod will step on its threshold.

 6 Then the LORD’s heavy hand struck the people of Ashdod and the nearby villages with a plague of hemorrhoids.

 7 When the people realized what was happening, they cried out, “We can’t keep the Ark of the God of Israel here any longer! He is against us! We will all be destroyed along with Dagon, our god.”

 8 So they called together the rulers of the Philistine towns and asked, “What should we do with the Ark of the God of Israel?” The rulers discussed it and replied, “Move it to the town of Gath.” So they moved the Ark of the God of Israel to Gath.

 9 But when the Ark arrived at Gath, the LORD’s heavy hand fell on its men, young and old; he struck them with a plague of hemorrhoids, and there was a great panic.

 10 So they sent the Ark of God to the town of Ekron, but when the people of Ekron saw it coming, they cried out, “They are bringing the Ark of the God of Israel here to kill us, too!”

 11 The people summoned the Philistine rulers again and begged them, “Please send the Ark of the God of Israel back to its own country, or it will kill us all.” For the deadly plague from God had already begun, and great fear was sweeping across the town.

 12 Those who didn’t die were afflicted with hemorrhoids, and the cry from the town rose to heaven.

Luck is the term used to describe an event or situation that arises unexpectedly by chance outside of an individual’s control. Some people believe that luck is a guiding force in their lives. A good luck charm is an item or emblem considered to bring good luck to its possessor. People usually carry or wear these charms as a means of safeguarding them.

Good luck charms can take many forms, such as a horseshoe, a four-leaf clover, a rabbit’s foot, a lucky coin, a religious symbol, or a talisman.  

The notion of a good luck charm is frequently associated with superstition. Despite the absence of scientific proof supporting their efficacy, these charms can offer solace and assurance to individuals who have faith in them.

The significance of each symbol is rooted in folklore, mythology, esotericism, religion, tradition, necessity, or a combination thereof.

Foolishly, Israel treated the Ark of the Covenant, the most sacred object on earth, as a good luck charm. Rather than trusting in the Father, they trusted in the Ark itself. The consequences of their foolish superstition were grievous. The Ark was captured by the Philistines and became their trophy victory over the armies of ancient Israel.

The story serves as a cautionary tale about respecting sacred objects. It emphasizes the power and uniqueness of the living God of Israel.


The Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of the Father among the Jewish people and His rule over them. Similarly, for those who are children of the King, the Lord Jesus Christ holds a comparable significance as the Ark did for Israel.

It is incumbent upon the children of the King to give the Lord Jesus Christ His rightful place in our lives. We can confidently navigate each day, knowing that His presence and help are assured.

Father thank You that You are with me, and Your help is assured. Teach me to walk humbly with You and keep short accounts when I fall short.


The Ark of the Covenant was the most important object in the tabernacle. It was placed in the Holy of Holies. “In the Ark were the two tablets of the law, and on it was the golden “mercy seat” where God’s glorious presence dwelt. It was the throne of God from which He spoke to His people” (Exodus 25:10-22) (Wiersbe).

Exodus 25:22 I will meet with you there and talk to you from above the atonement cover between the gold cherubim that hover over the Ark of the Covenant. From there, I will give you my commands for the people of Israel.

The Philistines were a seagoing people who originated from the Aegean region, and their name is likely derived from the Hebrew word “peleshet,” which means invader or migrant. They invaded the coastal area of Palestine. Palestine is related to the word Philistine. They established several significant cities along the Mediterranean coast, including Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, and Gath. Conflicts between the Philistines and the nation of Israel began around the 12th century BC.

The Father gave Israel clear instructions for fighting battles (Deuteronomy 20). They were to go into battle trusting the Father for victory after they searched their hearts and made things right with Him.

But instead of doing so, the children of Israel foolishly decided to mimic Moses and Joshua and take the Ark into the battle with them (Numbers 10:33-36; Joshua 3-4, 6). Rather than putting their faith and confidence in the God of the Ark, they trusted in the Ark of God to keep them safe and give them victory. What a tragic mistake! It was a willful attempt to “use God” to fulfill their own desires. They acted out of ignorant superstition, using the Ark of God as a good-luck charm.

“Unlike Moses and Joshua, they didn’t seek the will of the Lord, they weren’t walking by faith, and they certainly weren’t seeking to glorify God . . .. But Israel hoped that the presence of the Ark would save the Jews from the hand of their enemies” (Wiersbe).

The battle is lost, and the Philistines take the Ark. How humiliating, devastating, and demoralizing.

The Philistines placed it in the temple of Dagon. This was to demonstrate to the world that Dagon was stronger and greater than the God of Israel. Thus they were mocking Him and exalting their own god. They arrogantly treated the God of Israel as though He were just another god. Big mistake! They invited the judgment of God.

1 Samuel 2:30 I will honor those who honor me, and I will despise those who think lightly of me.

Now comes the sweet irony. The Father has a way of getting defiant people and their false gods to bow before Him. The Father will not be used to achieve selfish ambitions.

The Philistines realize that they are not merely warring against Israel; they are now warring against the living God of Israel. The Father demonstrates that He is more powerful than their false pagan god, Dagon. Dagon is found prostrate without a head or hands in a position of submission to the Ark and the God it represents.

1 Samuel 5:3-12

 3 But when the citizens of Ashdod went to see it the next morning, Dagon had fallen with his face to the ground in front of the Ark of the LORD! So they took Dagon and put him in his place again.

 4 But the next morning, the same thing happened – Dagon had fallen face down before the Ark of the LORD again. This time his head and hands had broken off and were lying in the doorway. Only the trunk of his body was left intact.

Psalms 97:7 Those who worship idols are disgraced – all who brag about their worthless gods – for every god must bow to him.

The Philistines were shocked and terrified. They couldn’t wait to get rid of the Ark.

The Philistine wise men devised a scheme they thought would absolve them of responsibility and blame. They hitched up two cows to a cart, put the Ark on the cart, and turned the cows loose. And they started “moo-ving” their way to Israel.

It was never a fair fight! Lifeless, man-made idols and gods have no chance against the Almighty, living God of Israel. Dagon lost his hands (1 Samuel 5:4). But the Father’s heavy hand struck the Philistines with hemorrhoids and death. Great panic ruled (1 Samuel 5: 6, 9).

Israel’s defeat by the Philistines laid the groundwork for the Father’s victory over Dagon.


© Dr. H 2023

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