Curiosity like many things, can be either a very good thing or a very bad thing. God’s creation contains many things with similar characteristics. Money is neutral, it is just a tool, but we use it for both good and evil. Strength is generally regarded as a good thing, but it can lessen our dependence on God and lead to pride. Strength can be used to save or destroy. Curiosity drove the creation of most, if not all, the things that make our lives so comfortable. Yet, curiosity leads many to destruction as they explore things that are best left in the dark.
In today’s chapter some Israelites got curious and curiosity caused them to disobey the command of God. They may have found the answer to their curiosity, but the result was drastic.
But God struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they looked into the ark of the LORD. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the LORD had dealt them. (1 Samuel 6:19 NIV)
The Philistines had returned the ark to Israel and the Levites had properly put the ark into a safe place. It was not back in the tabernacle, but it was at least away from the enemy. For years the ark had been kept in the most sacred and hidden room in the tabernacle. Since the people were no longer on the move the ark was only seen by the high priest once a year. It must have been a beautiful and fascinating object. Like little children the people wanted to touch it and some of them wanted to look inside. Were the tablets of the Law still there? Was there a container of manna?
We will never know. The men who took the lid off the ark and looked inside immediately died and no one was left alive to describe what they saw inside. From the lack of description I get the impression that the opening of the ark and the death of the men was far less dramatic than the final scenes in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
What about us?
I am a curious person and I am always looking to learn new things. One of the reasons I love the Internet is that I get to watch fascinating videos like this one from Smarter Every Day on YouTube:
If you are ever looking for an example of a curious person, then this video will show you an example of positive curiosity. Destin, the host, is a believer and I highly recommend all his videos.
YouTube is a wonderful tool and I use it all the time. I cannot list all the things I have been able to fix by finding instructions on YouTube. However, every time I open up YouTube I am presented with a list of potential videos to watch. Often, the first one on the list is intended to peak my curiosity and generally to go somewhere I should not go. These videos are generally known as click-bait and that is the perfect term for them.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. (James 1:13-16 NIV)
In a world with so many distractions I would paraphrase the last verse this way: Be aware that behind the image that sparks your curiosity hides content prepared to do you harm. Do not let your curiosity get the better of you. I had to give up a religious blog site I very much enjoyed when the click-bait on the site became too much to deal with. The advertising was inconsistent with the content of the blogs and I could sense my curiosity growing. I decided not to test my Internet filters and gave up the site. Besides, there were many more out there that did not include that temptation.
Where might curiosity be getting the best of you?