In the last post in this series, we learned that the Ark of the Covenant had been captured by the Philistines in the battle with the Israelites at Ebenezer. Just as the Ark generally brought prosperity for the Israelites, the Philistines' experience was not nearly as positive. First, they took the Ark to the city of Ashdod and placed it in the house of Dagon. The next morning, when the Philistines went to the house, they found Dagon had fallen face first before the Ark. The following morning, the god Dagon had fallen before the Ark and broken into pieces. However, it was worse for the citizens of Ashdod. God struck them with tumors.
Having had their fill of the Ark in their city, they sent the Ark to Gath. Unfortunately, for the citizens of Gath, the results were similar.
Therefore they sent and gathered to themselves all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” And they answered, “Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried away to Gath.” So they carried the ark of the God of Israel away. So it was, after they had carried it away, that the hand of the Lord was against the city with a very great destruction; and He struck the men of the city, both small and great, and tumors broke out on them. - 1 Samuel 5:8-9
By this time, the citizens of Ekron had heard of what had happened in the other cities and were not excited about the Ark's arrival.
Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. So it was, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, “They have brought the ark of the God of Israel to us, to kill us and our people!” So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go back to its own place, so that it does not kill us and our people.” For there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. And the men who did not die were stricken with the tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven. - 1 Samuel 5:10-12
All of these cities were in the region of Israel that we often call the "Coastal Plain". It is a region about 10-15 miles wide between the Shephelah and the Mediterranean Sea.
In the next post of this series, we will look at how the Ark was delivered back to the Israelites and where this took place.