Human beings are not logical. We make bad, irrational, foolish decisions. Some of them are pretty funny. Many of them are harmful.
Some of the worst decisions that we make involve us doubling-down on sin. We find ourselves doing something that is foolish, that is ungodly, and that does not work. Instead of repenting, however, we seem to like to give it one more try just to see if what failed us before will work this next time.
Consider a sort of funny story from 1 Samuel. The Israelites had sinned against God, and the Lord allowed the Philistines to have victory over them. The Philistines, in an amazing encounter, go home with the ark of the covenant. (By the way, I have no idea how they carried off the ark without dying—God does not tell us.)
At one point, they set up the ark of the covenant in the temple of Dagon, a Philistine idol. What happens next is a perfect example of human foolishness.
1 Samuel 5:1-5 – 1 When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. 3 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. 4 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. 5 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.
Get the story. The Philistines put the sacred box belonging to God in their temple. The next day, they come into the temple, and the statue of the false god Dagon is face down on the ground in front of the ark. What would be a good response? I’d suggest that a good response would be to realize that Dagon is a false deity, and they ought not mess with the God of Israel. But that was not the Philistines’ response. They decide that the best move is to prop Dagon back up and see if things are better the next day.
Of course, the next day, they enter the temple to find Dagon on the ground again, this time with his head and hands broken off. Does this lead them to try to worship the Lord? Does this lead them to get under God’s grace if possible? Nope, it just leads them to come up with a plan to ship the ark of the covenant back so that they do not have to keep having Dagon broken. O, and they won’t step on the threshold of the door anymore since that is where Dagon’s head was knocked off.
We want to laugh. It is funny. But it is not funny when we do it. How often do we as a people see that something in our life is sin, failing and destructive, and yet we do not turn from it? How often do we keep going right to the place that hurts us? How often do we see a sin that crushes our parents or our families, and yet we decide to repeat it as soon as we get the chance?
Friends, we have a choice. WE can continue to prop up Dagon, to fall into the same sins that have never brought us life. We can set the idol back up on its pedestal, continuing to bow to things that only bring us death. Or we can change. We do not have to be the Philistines. WE can let the idol lie there in the dirt and turn our attention to the God who made us. He is willing to receive us in Christ and help us turn from our sin. He is willing to give us life and hope in a way that the Philistines never experienced. May we not prop up Dagon, but instead bow to the Lord Jesus in surrender for life.