Location: Good and Bad

“The Philistines hung the lifeless bodies of King Saul and three of his sons from the walls of Beth Shean, according to the Bible (I Samuel 31; I Chronicles 10).  When approaching an important and impressive site like Tel Beth Shean, archaeologists seek to understand more about the Biblical stories as well as answer questions about the broader history of the site and the people who lived there.”  (Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2012)

“The site”, place, location, are names given to a particular event or story.  In this incident, King Saul and his army, including his sons, were on Mt. Gilboa engaged with the powerful army of the Philistines.  Was Saul in a good location?  The answer was no because he was killed in battle.  In addition to his life being ended, his honor and dignity were abused in that the enemy decapitated him then hung his torso on a public wall.  There were no newspapers with photographic abilities to brag, so the next best thing was to display the mutilated corpse.  If news periodicals had existed a good headline would have been: “King Saul Impaled on the Wall.”

The Philistines were at a good site because they achieved a huge psychological victory similar to the United States’ killing Osama Ben Laden.

What motivated the Philistines?  Their chief deity was Dagon, half fish/ half man.  They believed he was a god of fertility and crops.  So, the defeat of Israel meant to them that their god was greater than Jehovah!  The Philistines “put his armour in the house of their gods, and fastened his head in the temple of Dagon (I Chronicles 10:10.”)  Prior to this military victory Israel’s ark had been captured by the Philistines.  This was a time to exult; “our god’s bigger than yours”.  The next morning, however, the priest witnessed a horrible thing: Dagon was toppled over in front of the Ark.  They picked him up and let another day and night of ‘glory’ take place.  Alas, the next morning not only was Dagon toppled over but he was broken in pieces. Was this a good location for the god?  No.

Location is everything.  It is certain that each Christian wants to be In the Church, full of the Holy Ghost. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:16, 17).”

Is this a good location?  Yes and Amen!

Rev. Raymond Parnell is Pastor Emeritus of Christ Memorial Temple in Lafayette, Indiana.


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