5. TRUSTING IN THE ARK OF THE LORD INSTEAD OF THE LORD OF THE ARK IS A MISTAKE.
I Samuel 4:3 - "And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, 'Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies.'"
Did they really think that if they carried the ark with them, they would find victory in battle? Did they think God needed to be in closer proximity to the battle to give them success (cf. 4:7) or did they think He only paid attention to that which was taking place near the ark? Regardless of what they thought, they were wrong! They put their trust in the wrong place. And some today make a similar mistake when they trust in a church building (or the letters on the sign) instead of the Lord himself. Let us all make sure our trust is not in tradition, opinion, or temporal blessings but firmly grounded in God (cf. I Tim. 6:17).
6. A REAL GOD DOESN'T NEED TO BE PROPPED UP.
I Samuel 5:2,3 - "When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth, before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again."
No doubt the Philistines were excited about their war trophy--the ark of Jehovah! They proudly displayed it next to their idol, Dagon. But, that proved to be an effort in futility. I can't help but smile when I think about them picking Dagon up, as if a real deity needed propped up! How could they trust in a god like that?
7. WHAT SEEMS TRIVIAL TO MAN IS NOT NECESSARILY TRIVIAL WITH GOD.
I Samuel 6:19 - "Then He struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck fifty thousand and seventy men of the people, and the people lamented because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter."
The people did not have the authority to touch the ark in order to open it or look inside it. It is certain that they meant no harm and were motivated by curiosity, but that did not negate their guilt. Their actions were a serious offense to God. When something seems trivial to the modern mind, be careful--it might be a matter of great importance to the Lord. This underscores the necessity of consulting the word of God so one can know the mind of God (cf. II Tim. 3:16,17).
8. SOME PEOPLE REFUSE TO BE WARNED.
I Samuel 8:4-9 - "Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, 'Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.' But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, 'Give us a king to judge us.' So Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, 'Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day--with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods--so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.' So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who asked him for a king."To refuse God's leadership is a serious error and that's precisely what Israel did. The people were warned that it was a mistake to yearn for a physical king, but they would not listen. Don't be a fool who refuses to heed warnings from those with wisdom and experience (particularly when the word is from the Lord; cf. Matt. 13:9).