“Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day. The hand of the LORD was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory. And when the men of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, ‘The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god.’ So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, ‘What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?’ They answered, ‘Let the ark of the God of Israel be brought around to Gath.’ So they brought the ark of the God of Israel there.” ~ 1 Samuel 5.2-8 [ESV]
Mankind’s resistance to God is at times remarkable, if not confounding. It goes without saying that man was built for worship. He will always have a god – someone who calls the shots, provides meaning, etc. And sadly, man has more often than not wanted to be his own ultimate god. And in pursuit of this, lesser gods are created. Idols of our own making. Things we pursue in an attempt to satisfy and govern ourselves.
What is truly amazing in this story – and in our own lives – is that when the one, true God is revealed for who he really is (vastly superior), the idol worshippers’ first reaction is to get rid of him. It doesn’t dawn on them to even consider the possibility that Dagon should go. They never mention the fact that if Dagon can be easily and consistently pushed around by Jehovah, he might not be worth our devotion in the first place. Silly Philistines! Why would you send the powerful God away to the next town, while you sit around gluing shards of your fish god back together? This was your chance to make a change!
But how many of us, in these savvy and sophisticated days of the 21st Century do the same thing? The gods of our day – money, beauty, power, health – are regularly exposed as the Dagons they really are, and our first inclination is to try to repair them rather than disown them. Rather than admit the dismal failure that man’s attempts at self-rule have been, we’ll hastily show the all-loving, all-powerful God of heaven the door…