What happened at Beth-shemish was tragic. Nevertheless we should not regard what happened in a totally negative way. One obvious factor of the return of the ark to Israel was that it indicated that God was once more present with his people, that the blessings which it signified, of rule, reconciliation and revelation, were once more available to them. This was a new beginning. God was returning to his people.
A second sign of hope is this: the Philistines could not endure the presence of a God of judgment and they got rid of him. It was different with Israel: they were beginning to learn that it is better for them to have God present in his holiness than for him to be absent from them. Jesus told one of the seven churches, ‘As many as I love I rebuke and chasten.’ This is a key difference between the way the Lord works with the world and with his people.
A further sign of hope is the importance of repentance and self-humbling at the actions of the Lord. The men of Beth-shemesh did not rebel against the judgment of the Lord, instead they humbled themselves under the mighty hand of God. This was how it should have been. They acknowledged his sovereignty and they showed their repentance by attempting to rectify the situation and find a suitable location for the ark.