Reflections on the Lessons of the One Year Bible

I Samuel 5:1-7:17

Last Sunday Fr. Chris quoted the famous English preacher, Charles Spurgeon, “The same sun that melts wax also hardens clay.” Today’s lesson is an illustration of that truth.

I have always found humor in these passages. The Philistines have captured the Ark of the Covenant and taken it to the town of Ashdod and placed it in the temple of their pagan god Dagon. Dagon was a fertility god that was also connected to grain and fish. (He also may have had a guest role in Ghostbusters but further research is needed in order to confirm).

The Ark was placed next to a statue of Dagon and in the morning they discovered the statue on its face in front of the Ark. What did the people do? They put the statue back in its place. The next morning when they came back to the temple they saw the statue of Dagon, again on its face before the Ark, only this time its head and hands were broken off with only the torso left in intact. (As Larry the Cable Guy would say, “Now that’s funny right there, I don’t care who you are.”) At that point they abandoned the temple for good. To add to their misery the Lord sent tumors and rats among the people.

This is where you would think that the wax would melt. The God of Israel was graphically illustrating that He is God and not Dagon and the right thing to do would have been to repent and turn to the One True God. Instead they proved that they were clay and hardened themselves by hatching a plan to rid themselves of the Ark. The plan included returning the Ark on a driverless cow-driven cart along with an offering of 5 golden rats and 5 golden tumors. Why in the world they would think that golden rats and golden tumors would be an acceptable offering, and what a golden tumor even looks like, is beyond my knowledge.

What they were in essence saying by their actions was that they knew that God was present among them, and because things were going badly, the answer was to get rid of God. In their “clayness” it did not occur to them that they needed to change.

As Christians we have our own versions of acting like clay instead of wax. When things are going badly, instead of repenting and calling on the Lord we withdraw. We stop praying and reading Scripture and we stop going to Mass. When things are not going our way we engage in personal attacks rather than asking where we may need to amend our lives. When God’s presence is unusually manifest, some find it so uncomfortable that rather than asking themselves why they have such a reaction, they find it easier to go somewhere else.

Our goal should be to react like wax, to let the Son melt us. He has proven His unfailing love for us, so we can trust Him as we trust no other. It is in trusting Him that the windows of our hearts are opened to the Holy Spirit. He is the One who makes the changes in us that we are incapable of doing for ourselves.

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