1 Samuel 5
After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon's temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon's temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.
God has a sense of humor. Their false god had to be helped up off the floor! LOL! And this false god was worshiping Yahweh! I consider this one of the humorous sections in the Bible.
The ark was placed next to the image of Dagon by the Philistines in order to demonstrate Dagon's superiority over the God of Israel, but instead, God showed His superiority (since He is the one and only true God, after all) when Dagon was toppled to a position of homage before the ark of the Lord. This reminds me of the way God humiliated each of the Egyptian gods, one by one, in the Ten Plagues, basically turning each one of the Egyptian gods into specific curses to plague the Egyptians who worshiped them.
Continuing with 1 Samuel 5:
The LORD's hand was heavy upon the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation upon them and afflicted them with tumors. [Hebrew; Septuagint and Vulgate, '...tumors. And rats appeared in their land, and death and destruction were throughout the city.' Some theologians suggest it may have been bubonic plague.] When the men of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, "The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy upon us and upon Dagon our god." So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, "What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?" They answered, "Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath." So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.
[They should have gotten rid of Dagon and their worship of a false idol! Instead, they got rid of the ark of the one true God.]
But after they had moved it, the LORD's hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors. [Or, with tumors in the groin. (see Septuagint.) Some have even suggested it might have been hemorrhoids.] So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, "They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people." So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, "Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it [Or, 'he'] will kill us and our people." For death had filled the city with panic; God's hand was very heavy upon it. Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.
Note that, in the previous chapter, 1 Samuel 4:3 says, When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, "Why did the LORD bring defeat upon us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the LORD's covenant from Shiloh, so that it [or, 'he'] may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies."
The Israelites put their faith in the ark, not in God Himself. They now idolized it. The things of God - physical things - should not replace God. Also, the Israelites never called out to God, which is what they really should have done. This shows what happens when you turn to the outward symbols of religion instead of God Himself.
It's also interesting to note that 1 Samuel 4:21-22 says, She named the boy Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel" - because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. She said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured."
"Ichabod" means "no glory." The glory of Israel was Israel's God, not the ark. Israel wrongly thought that, in spite of their wickedness, they had the power to coerce God into doing their will simply because they possessed the ark.
(This name, 'Ichabod,' always reminds me of Ichabod Crane in Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."
According to Wikipedia:
"He follows strict morals in the schoolroom, including the proverbial "Spare the rod and spoil the child"; outside the schoolroom, he is shown to have few morals and no motive but his own gratification. Despite being thin, he is capable of eating astonishingly large amounts of food and is constantly seeking to do so. In addition to this, he is excessively superstitious, often to the extent of believing every myth, legend, tall tale, etc. to be literally true. As a result, he is perpetually frightened by anything that reminds him of ghosts or demons."
"During his journey, he encounters another traveler, who is eventually revealed to be the legendary Headless Horseman; the ghost of a Hessian soldier who was decapitated by a cannonball. Ichabod flees, eventually crossing a bridge near the Dutch burial ground. Because the ghost is incapable of crossing this bridge, Ichabod assumes that he is safe; however, the Hessian throws his own severed head at Ichabod, knocking him from the back of his own horse and falling onto the road. The next morning, Ichabod's hat is found abandoned, and close beside it a shattered pumpkin. Ichabod is never seen in Sleepy Hollow again, and is therefore presumed to have been spirited away by the Headless Horseman."
Ichabod Crane was a fictional character who also had 'no glory.' He had few morals, which reminds me of Israel's wickedness. He was superstitious, which reminds me of Israel's trusting in an object, rather than in God Himself. Ichabod was either slain or he fled, which also reminds me of the Israelites. 1 Samuel 4:2 says, And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men. Similarly, 1 Samuel 4:10 says, And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.)