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Doing the right thing the wrong way

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Doing the right thing the wrong way

1 Samuel 6:1–15 NKJV
Now the ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months. And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it to its place.” So they said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but by all means return it to Him with a trespass offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed from you.” Then they said, “What is the trespass offering which we shall return to Him?” They answered, “Five golden tumors and five golden rats, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines. For the same plague was on all of you and on your lords. Therefore you shall make images of your tumors and images of your rats that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will lighten His hand from you, from your gods, and from your land. Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He did mighty things among them, did they not let the people go, that they might depart? Now therefore, make a new cart, take two milk cows which have never been yoked, and hitch the cows to the cart; and take their calves home, away from them. Then take the ark of the Lord and set it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you are returning to Him as a trespass offering in a chest by its side. Then send it away, and let it go. And watch: if it goes up the road to its own territory, to Beth Shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we shall know that it is not His hand that struck us—it happened to us by chance.” Then the men did so; they took two milk cows and hitched them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. And they set the ark of the Lord on the cart, and the chest with the gold rats and the images of their tumors. Then the cows headed straight for the road to Beth Shemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right hand or the left. And the lords of the Philistines went after them to the border of Beth Shemesh. Now the people of Beth Shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley; and they lifted their eyes and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it. Then the cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and stood there; a large stone was there. So they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. The Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the chest that was with it, in which were the articles of gold, and put them on the large stone. Then the men of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices the same day to the Lord.
Background:
David is now king of Israel and he is passionate for the Lord. He not only wants Israel to prosper in the land but he wants the people of Israel to prosper in their hearts towards the Lord. While Saul was king God blessed Israel but Israel still has not really turned back to the Lord with the whole heart. One very significant point is that during the reign of Saul the Ark of the Covenant which represented the presence and the glory of God was put away in the house of Abinadab. The Ark was in Abinadabs house for the entire reign of king Saul and in fact some biblical scholars estimate that it was hidden away for some 75 years.
David becomes king and one of the very first things that he wants to do as king is to bring the Ark to Jerusalem and for it to once again take centre place among the people, no longer hidden away but in pride of place in the peoples capital. The Ark represented the presence and glory of God and David wanted the Lord to be at the centre of everything that was to be done in Israel so it was clear to him that the Ark needed to be brought back.
2 Samuel 6:1–15 NKJV
Again David gathered all the choice men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, whose name is called by the Name, the Lord of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart. And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill, accompanying the ark of God; and Ahio went before the ark. Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the Lord on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals. And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God. And David became angry because of the Lord’s outbreak against Uzzah; and he called the name of the place Perez Uzzah to this day. David was afraid of the Lord that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” So David would not move the ark of the Lord with him into the City of David; but David took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite three months. And the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his household. Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with gladness. And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep. Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet.
2 Samuel 6:1-
It is all too easy sometimes to let ourselves get carried away with a plan, we maybe have good intentions but we run ahead of ourselves and indeed God.
1 Chronicles also recounts this very story and there a couple of additional little insights that we can glean from reading this second account.
1 Chronicles 13:1–3 NKJV
Then David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is of the Lord our God, let us send out to our brethren everywhere who are left in all the land of Israel, and with them to the priests and Levites who are in their cities and their common-lands, that they may gather together to us; and let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we have not inquired at it since the days of Saul.”
1 Chronicles 13
The very first verse in this chapter gives us a clue as to how things started to go wrong.....
1 Chronicles 13:1 NKJV
Then David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader.
Who is David consulting with regarding the return of the Ark? Not the Lord, but rather the captains and leaders in the land.
We may have good intentions for a work that is to glorify the Lord but if this is the case we need to be doing it under the direction of the Lord and not according to human understanding. There were very clear instructions from God in the books of Exodus and Numbers regarding how the Ark was to be transported and word of God ought to have been David’s starting point.
2 Samuel 6:1–3 NKJV
Again David gathered all the choice men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, whose name is called by the Name, the Lord of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart.
2 Samuel 6:1–4 NKJV
Again David gathered all the choice men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, whose name is called by the Name, the Lord of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart. And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill, accompanying the ark of God; and Ahio went before the ark.
In the book of Numbers the Israelites are instructed as to how they are supposed to be transporting the Ark. The Ark was a large wooden box overlaid with gold, with a solid gold lid that on the lid showed two cherubim. Two long wooden poles were to be inserted into rings that were on the sides of the ark. The Lord had ordained that all ceremonial duties were only to be carried out by those in the tribe of Levi, but there was a family within the tribe of Levi called the Koaths and they alone were permitted to carry the Ark. Even the Koaths were not allowed to touch the Ark but were to carry it using the wooden poles. The only way that the ark was to be moved was on poles borne on the shoulders of this specific priestly family.
However, take a look again at verse 3
2 Samuel 6:3 NKJV
So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart.
Now David may have had good intentions here, afterall we are told that the Ark was put upon a new cart. So I can imagine that David and the others were maybe thinking that they were doing a good thing here. They are thinking, “hey, let’s not carry this thing, its big and heavy and it will take us ages” “we can move it far more efficiently by cart” “But God is so magnificent that we can’t put His Ark on just any cart, let’s build a brand new custom built cart that’s sole purpose is to carry the Ark of God”.
See they put the Ark on a brand new cart, which shows us that there was some understanding here that the Ark cannot be transported by just anything, they are making an effort at least to move it in style.
Nevertheless, God very clearly stated how this move was to be performed and all of the men here showed a disregard for the will of God, instead preferring to work this out according to their own logic.
Not only this but the Ark has been in the house of Abinidab for all these years, now the two sons of Abinidab, ‘Uzzah and Ahio’ are responsible for driving the cart and getting it from A to B. Yet, the scripture gives us no indication that Abinidab was even a Levite, let alone a Kohath. So neither he nor his two sons had any business being anywhere near the Ark.
2 Samuel 6:5 NKJV
Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the Lord on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals.
So they start moving the Ark of God on this fancy new cart and David and all the house of Israel we are told sing praises to God and play music to honour Him.
Looking at this verse we have to conclude that there was no lack of passion and fervor on David’s part. He had all the energy in the world to worship the Lord. But passion and fervor while very good are not excuses for ignoring the instructions of the Lord.
Romans 12:1–2 ESV
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Paul tells us her in that our worship to God is in presenting our whole life to Him.
It is not acceptable for us to merely talk the talk if we are not prepared to walk the walk.
2 Samuel 6:
2 Samuel 6:6–7 NKJV
And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God.
So here we read how the oxen pulling the cart stumbles. Uzzah who presumable must have been next to the ark thinks that the ark is at risk of falling off and so he puts out his hand to steady it. God now strikes down Uzzah for having touched the ark.
Now this might seem rather harsh, but lets just take a look at whats really going on here.
God has instructed Israel only to move the ark on the shoulders of His appointed priests, but this instruction is ignored.
Only the priests are allowed near the ark, but this instruction is ignored.
Everybody without exception is forbidden from touching the ark but this ignored.
No doubt that after all the years that the ark has been sat in the house of Abinidab, with Uzzah and Ahio basically growing up with this in their presence every day that they have a complacency regarding ark. To Uzzah and Ahio the ark was just something that was in their dads back room for years. There was no reverence for what the ark was and we need to keep in mind that the ark was representative of the presence and the glory of God.
This whole sorry mess came about because of a disregard for reverence towards God.
God had always straight up with Israel about the consequences of disobeying in this area and it is not as though this was a difficult matter. God gave very simple and easy to follow instructions but it was certain people, even David who had started to take God for granted and forgot that is Lord of all and King of Kings.
There are people today who are so used to being around the things of God that they handle the matters of the Lord with very light esteem. The Lord has become to some just someone who is always in the backroom of their mind. They live near God but never have Him in the centre. Then there are others who would go so far as to reach out and touch the glory, thinking that in makes little difference and believing that God is idle and will not do anything about it.
Uzzah had either a low regard for the ark of God or a high regard for himself in thinking that he could safely handle the ark. It was probably a bit of both, not only was he lacking reverence but now the king of Israel and thousands of his countrymen have their eyes on Uzzah and his brother that he likely felt very important and above reproach.
Through the new testament when God did amazing miracles through the work of the apostles they were always very quick to hand the glory up to God.
When the Lame man was healed in , Peter addresses the crowd over this point;
Acts 3:12 NKJV
So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?
Peter had the reverence and respect for God that he took the presence of God out with him but he kept his hands off the glory.
2 Samuel 6:7–8 NKJV
Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God. And David became angry because of the Lord’s outbreak against Uzzah; and he called the name of the place Perez Uzzah to this day.
We see here a response in David that we don’t expect from David as he is normally so wise in matters pertaining to the Lord, however his response is a common one among people.
God gives us instructions, He reasons with is why He has instructed us this way, He makes us fully aware of what the consequences will be should we disobey and then when we do disobey and the consequences come it is suddenly all the Lord’s fault, He was to harsh and we are the innocent victims.
How often people will even if they do not question the existence of God will nevertheless argue His fairness.
David had no right to be angry at God, it was the apathy and irreverence of David and all those present that prompted this consequence and arguably by the goodness of God they were not all struck down since they all played a part in this great error.
2 Samuel
2 Samuel 6:9–10 NKJV
David was afraid of the Lord that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” So David would not move the ark of the Lord with him into the City of David; but David took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.
Now David is still not really right in his actions here but at least he is now showing some reverence and regard towards the Lord.
David said “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?”, the ark don’t forget represents the presence and the glory of the Lord and essentially David is saying “how on earth can I be responsible for transporting the presence of God?”
There ought to be some degree of similar reverence on all of us as we take the presence of the Lord out with us when we minister to others. We have in us the Holy Spirit which means that we take the presence of God out with us each day. We ought not to think lightly about this like Uzzah did and treat it like something that has always been in our back room.
Paul tells us in that we are temples of the Holy Spirit and we therefore ought not to defile the temple but live each day with the awareness that we have the very presence of God within us.
While God does not want us to feel overwhelmed by this, it ought to though cause us to take care in how we live and not treat our lives and how we carry the Holy Spirit with the same kind of disregard that Uzzah and the other men took.
David is right to now pay regard to the Lord, David stops what they are doing which is a correct decision. If the Lord reprimands us in anything we should immediately stop that course of error. David instructs that the ark be taken into the house of a man called Obededom, which wa a good move in that Obededom was a Levite. David now is learning his lesson, God says that only the Levites are to handle the holy things so David makes sure that this is the case.
However, David now allows this feeling of insufficiency to stop him in the work that he was doing for the Lord. This is in many ways just as bad as what he was doing before because now the work of God is put on stop and he is depriving the people of Israel of the ark in the midst of their city.
Philippians 4:13 NKJV
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
It is important to be reverent towards God, to keep our hands off the glory but it is equally important that the Lord equips us to do His work and through Christ we can do all things.
Rather than abandon the journey what David ought to have done was repent and proceed as the Lord as the Lord instructed.
2 Samuel 6:11–15 NKJV
The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite three months. And the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his household. Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with gladness. And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep. Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet.
2 Samuel 6:11-15
As the ark is in the house of Obededom the Lord blesses Obededom and his whole household. Firstly Obededom was a Levite from the family of Koath (), so the ark was well placed in his care. When the Lord is obeyed, blessing follows.
But David sees that the blessing of the Lord has come upon the house of Obededom, and no doubt realises that with obedience to the Lord comes blessing. And for three months there has been a great blessing upon the household of Obededom which frankly could have been upon the whole of Israel had David just repented and proceeded.
Davids error in not following Gods instruction cost one man his life, discouragement upon himself and by being discouraged from the job David has been responsible for withholding three months of blessing that should have been upon all Israel.
We may have in the past set out on a work for the Lord, maybe it was not blessed and so we abandoned it. But the work itself may have been correct but the way we went about it could have been wrong. Many Christians, like David, give up the work when the face a discouragement like this. But by giving up rather than just seeking God for direction we withhold blessing from ourselves and others.
We all make mistakes, it is how respond to those mistakes that is often so crucial.
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