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- Bible Text: 1 Samuel 6:13-21 (ESV)13 Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. And when they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, they rejoiced to see it. 14 The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh and stopped there. A great stone was there. And they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15 And the Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the box that was beside it, in which were the golden figures, and set them upon the great stone. And the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices on that day to the Lord. 16 And when the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron.
17 These are the golden tumors that the Philistines returned as a guilt offering to the Lord: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron, 18 and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and unwalled villages. The great stone beside which they set down the ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh.
19 And he struck some of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked upon the ark of the Lord. He struck seventy men of them, and the people mourned because the Lord had struck the people with a great blow. 20 Then the men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?” 21 So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to you.”
- Reflection & Application:
- 1Samuel 6:13-21Divine retribution continued to overtake those who misused the ark. This time some men of Beth Shemesh “looked into” the ark, a sin punishable by instant death (Nu 4:5, 20; 2Sa 6:6-7). The mourners sensed that the ark symbolized the presence of a “holy God” (Lev 11:44-45), whose sanctity they could not approach. They therefore hoped he would depart from them. 
- Contrast the people’s attitude in v. 13 versus v. 20. Are there ways in which I am ambivalent about God’s presence in my life — wanting his blessing but not his holiness and standards?
 NIV Bible Commentary, note for 1 Samuel 6:13-7:1.