How big is God, if he’s too big to fit in a box? Christians confess a big God—the “maker of heaven and earth.” But sometimes we still imagine limits to how big God is, and especially, how wide God’s mercy extends. Pastor Luke teaches from 1 Samuel 5 in “Hot Potato,” part 4 of his 7-part series “The Saga of the Lost Ark.”
Questions to Consider
OPEN. 1. When have you had a “white elephant” that you needed to get rid of? What did you do with it?
UNPACK. 2. Read 1 Samuel 5 and underline the names for the Ark. Which is used most? Which is used least? Who uses each name?
3. If there had been surveillance video of 1 Samuel 5: 1–4, what would it have recorded? How do the people of Ashdod interpret it?
4. What contribution do the lords of the Philistines make to help resolve the crisis, according to verse 8? —verse 11?
5. What words (vv. 6–7) are used to describe what happened at Ashdod? What does that expression mean?
6. How does the city of Gath’s attitude about hosting the Ark differ from the city of Ekron’s? What happens at each city?
7. Who heard the cry that went up to heaven (v. 12): Dagon or God?
APPLY. 8. Teresa of Avila (1515–82) wrote a prayer (since adapted into songs) saying that Christ “has no hands, no feet on earth but [ours].” What did she mean by that? What would someone from Ashdod say?
9. What support can you find in this passage for the idea that God is (only) Israel’s God? —that God is God of the whole world?
10. If you knew someone who felt that God’s hand was heavy on them (v. 6), what hope could you offer them from this passage?