The philistines send the ark back to Israel. They know all about Israel’s God, how they escaped from Egypt, Jericho. They get spiritual advice and put it on a cart with gold offerings.
It arrives in Israel during harvest with great celebration. But some of the men take the opportunity to look inside it and die. So the celebration with offerings turns into a slaughter (the number is very uncertain, between 50000 and 70. But even 70 is a terrible tragedy).
They organise for people for the temple to take it away.
This is the story of the ark, it is old testament in the stereotypical way: judgement and wrath. The ark is the powerful author of life God, who as I said yesterday, cannot be tamed. CS Lewis envisioned him as a lion, such a great image.
The people here tested God. The philistines knew of his reputation, but they thought they’d find out what happened if they took the ark.
The Israelites have lost their religion and sent it into battle as a sort of superstition. Celebrating its return thought they’d find out what happens is you look inside, despite knowing full well that the old religions rules were that only the high priest was able to even enter its presence once per year.
Don’t pick a fight with God. Don’t challenge him to see how strong he really is. We coast along on the doctrine of grace, letting our personal religion be hollowed out as society treats God as a joke.