- In 1 Samuel chapter 4, the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines, who killed the two sons of Eli, the priest. In verse 4:4, this was clearly identified as the ark of the Exodus legend, with the mercy seat on which the Lord of hosts sat between the two cherubim.
Although the Ark of the Covenant was said to have been built at enormous expense, to support the mercy seat on which God sat while he travelled with the Israelites and to keep the sacred tablets of the ten commandments, Psalm 132 says this most sacred artefact of the Hebrews was found abandoned in a field.
Second Samuel chapter 6 describes how David recovered the Ark and moved it to its place in the tabernacle. The author had no doubt that God was still seated 'between the cherubim', with frequent references such as David dancing 'before the Lord', and God blessing a household for hosting the ark. After allowing this treasure to be captured and later allowing it to be lost, God must have had a renewed interest in it: for example he killed Uzzah just for touching the ark in order to steady it while it was being transported on a cart.
So, the Ark had been captured and returned, then abandoned, but found and recovered. If it really did exist, it must have been lost yet again, but there is no record of such an event.