Reading 1 - 1Sa 5:4
"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" (1Sa 5:4).
What happened to Dagon also happened to Goliath (1Sa 17:49) -- as though he were merely one more "god" of the Philistines!
Dagon's head and hands were broken off. Likewise, Goliath's head was cut off by David; and his sword (that is, his "hands" or "arms") were confiscated by the enemy.
For that matter, consider also the fate of Eli: 1Sa 4:18.
Eli's two "arms" (his sons: 1Sa 2:31,34) were both cut off -- this is comparable to the destruction of Dagon, whose hands were broken off.
It is as though two "idolatries" are being portrayed here: Jewish and Philistine! Eli's neck was broken; and then Dagon's head was broken off. Eli's 2 sons -- his "arms" -- were cut off; and then Dagon's arms were broken off. First the Ark departs from Israel; then, a bit later, it also departs from Philistia.
Reading 2 - Isa 51:11
"The ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away" (Isa 51:11).
"Israel will sing the song of Moses, and the song of the Lamb, who will have given them such a mighty deliverance from all their enemies. Being now 'the ransomed of the Lord, they shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads.' The prophet 'like unto Moses,' mightier than Joshua, and 'greater than Solomon', will conduct them into the Holy Land; and, having delivered to them the New Covenant, will 'settle them after their old estates.' Having 'wrought with them for his own name's sake,' and by them as his 'battle-axe and weapons of war' subdued the nations, and brought them to his holy mountain, he will 'accept them there,' and 'there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land,' as one nation and one kingdom under Shiloh 'serve the Lord God' " (John Thomas, "Elpis Israel" 405,406).
Reading 3 - Rev 12:11
"They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb" (Rev 12:11).
This is the last reference in the Bible to the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ; here it is the overcoming blood, enabling believers to withstand the deceptions and accusations of the accuser and enemy. There are at least 43 references to the blood of Christ in the New Testament, all testifying to its great importance in the salvation and daily life of the believer. (It should go without saying, of course, that the literal blood of Christ was not some magical potion to be adored superstitiously, but that it is a Bible-based means of speaking of his sacrifice, with all that encompasses.)
Judas the betrayer spoke of it as "innocent blood" (Mat 27:4) and Peter called it "the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1Pe 1:19). It is the cleansing blood in 1Jo 1:7 and the washing blood in Rev 1:5, stressing that it removes the guilt of our sins. Paul calls it the purchasing blood in Acts 20:28 and the redeeming blood twice (Eph 1:7; Col 1:14, cp Rev 5:9), thus declaring the shedding of his blood to be the very price of our salvation. Therefore, it is also the justifying blood (Rom 5:9) and the peacemaking blood (Col 1:20). Its efficacy does not end with our salvation, however, for it is also the sanctifying blood (Heb 13:12). There is infinite and eternal power in the blood of Christ, for it is "the blood of the everlasting covenant" (Heb 13:20). The first reference in the New Testament to his blood stresses this "covenant" aspect. Jesus said, at the last supper: "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Mat 26:28). Let no one, therefore, ever count the "blood of the covenant... an unholy thing" (Heb 10:29), for the blood of Christ is forever innocent, infinitely precious, perfectly justifying, always cleansing and fully sanctifying.