Even The Philistines Knew God

…the Philistines heard the noise of the shout… they understood that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp”. And they said, “Woe to us! For such a thing has not happened before. Woe to us! Who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods that smote the Egyptians with every kind of plague in the wilderness…”
1 Samuel 4:6-8

A Philistine is also know by the biblical adjective “uncircumcised”, as mentioned in 1 Samuel 17:26, 36 by David, who meant to suggest a man who had no relationship with God; a foreigner in God’s inheritance. Yet we read in 1 Samuel 4:5-8 that the Philistines knew this same God and they go into great depths to describe Him as a great and powerful God who plagued the Egyptians and struck them to deliver the Israelites. After the Philistines (read unbelievers) won a fight with the Israelites (read believers) and brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord, they were plagued by God’s presence in their camps. But here’s the fact we overlook – they knew exactly what was the cause of their miseries. They called their priests and diviners to get the ark away from them and this what those guys had to say:

“…If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty, but at least return to Him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed [and healing granted you]… Therefore you must make images of your tumors and of your mice that destroy the land, and give glory to the God of Israel. Perhaps He will lighten His hand from off you and your gods and your land… Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He had done wonders and made a mock of them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?
1 Samuel 6:3-6

The Philistines knew our God. They knew the great things He did for those who trust in Him. Question is, do you know how great is your God?

What is Man?

What is man? Intelligent, smart, beautiful—a wonderful and intricate creation. Oh! The many characteristics attributed to man are far too many to count. From the moment he makes his way to earth, thoughts of achieving great things are pumped into him. The world teaches him – “You have only one life, live it to the max.”, “Your life is in your hands, nobody else has any right over it.”, “You are the master of your own destiny.” The list goes on and on. He is ever on the run to earn some more money, some more accolades for himself, not realizing that it is his unquenchable thirst for fame, fortune and good looks that will lead to his ultimate destruction. His unending greed to obtain material things has led him to compromise on his morals, faith, justice, compassion and even God. “Who needs God”, he asks, “when I can do whatever I please? I am the master of myself. I am under no authority.” His arrogance and pride have blinded him to everything and everyone around him. His thoughts consist of only “I, Me and Myself”.

He doesn’t realize that God is with him always, waiting to catch him lest he falls, to relieve him of his burdens if only he’d let Him, to smooth his brow when he is worried. “My son”, God asks, “why don’t you look at me? Don’t you realize how much I love you? Why do you stubbornly turn your face away from me?” Each time He sends the cool breeze upon his face, He gently whispers through it, “My child, I love you so much”. But man is too preoccupied to stop and listen. Each time God sends the refreshing rain upon the earth He cries, “My son, turn to me. I weep for you.” Again man fails to comprehend it and His tears are in the rain. It pains the Lord to see His precious one so lost and far away from Him. “What can I do to make you sit up and take notice of Me?, He laments, “You leave me no choice, man, but to do what I’m about to do. Remember I still love you and always will.”

The next morning, the world woke up to the news of a collision between a tanker and a sports car. God had spared his life but not without him paying a heavy price for it. Lying on his hospital bed, alone, with broken bones and not a single person to greet him with a friendly “hello” or “how are you feeling?”, he begins to drown himself in self-pity and gets angry with the God whom he had never spared a moment for, when he was healthy and well. “God, what did I ever do to you to deserve this?”, he shouts with exasperation. Not seeming to receive any answer, he once again buries himself in anger and bitterness. Little did he suspect, however, that the solution to all his problems was waiting right outside his door.

For, a kindly old Christian woman had heard him ranting and raving while she passed his door. Deciding to spread a word of cheer, she opens the door and steps inside to see the pitiful form of what once had been a healthy young man. Thinking she had come to the wrong room, he tries to dismiss her off angrily. And yet, all she did was smile and on approaching him, greeted him with a sunny, “Hello, Good Morning son.” She, whose very form he looked upon with disgust in the past, was cheerfully addressing him. The old are so slow and careless were his thoughts towards those like her. Now it irritated him even more to see this woman, who must have been sixty-five years or so, stand before him in such perfect health while he couldn’t even sit properly without wincing in pain, let alone stand. And yet, here was this tiny old woman looking at him with eyes filled with such love and compassion, he couldn’t bear to look back at them for long.

“What makes you so happy?”, he couldn’t help himself from blurting out. Her lips moved and formed a word, “JESUS”, as if all the joy and happiness in the world could be summed up in that single word which she spoke so lovingly. He experienced a strange sensation. Something within him stirred. Like a musician picks up an old, forgotten guitar and brings it back to life by strumming its strings, so also his old, forgotten and frozen heart seemed to thaw and pump fresh blood through him as he heard himself asking her to tell him a bit more about this Jesus. She began speaking of how much Jesus loves him and how He died for all mankind to save them from their sins. How many hours they stayed together and spoke this way, nobody knows, but within that gloomy little hospital room, a fresh new creation was born. Seeing her work there was done, she turned to leave and started towards the door but not before noticing tears of repentance streaming down the young man’s face as he accepted the Lord Jesus into his life.

It was a changed man who emerged from the hospital doors a few months later. He was once again healthy and strong but greatly humbled in spirit.

What is man? Intelligent, smart, beautiful—a wonderful and intricate creation. Yes, he is all that and yet he is just a breath, a puff, here today, gone tomorrow—sustained only by the grace and mercy of God Almighty.