I'm reading through 1Samuel at the moment and I've come to the part where the Philistines have captured the ark of the covenant. In fact I read today the plan to return the ark to Israel. What intrigues me about the story is the way God deals with the situation.
Israel take the ark into battle because they suppose it has some power. But unlike Raiders of the Lost Ark, there is no outpouring of power through the ark. Israel is defeated and the ark is taken away.
But the Philistines discover that although the ark has no inherent power, God is not disinterested in it's whereabouts. Now I was thinking about why it was that the Philistines suffered so when the ark came to town. Later, when David brings the ark back, there is great blessing where it stops, but this time there is judgement.
Perhaps it's to do with the contents and the lack of blood covering the law. When God looks at the law without the blood of the sacrifice, then the holiness of God and the sinfulness of humanity collide and judgement is the only avenue available. When there is the blood, the law is covered and judgement turned away. The holiness of God encounters the grace and mercy of God and forgiveness is possible.
Maybe this is something of what is gong on in the story of 1Samuel and the ark's journey.