“And David said unto all the congregation of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the LORD our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren everywhere, that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites which are in their cities and suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us: And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul. And all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people. So, David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering of Hemath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjathjearim. And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjathjearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the LORD, that dwelleth between the cherubim’s, whose name is called on it. And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart. And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets. And when they came unto the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God. And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzza: wherefore that place is called Perezuzza to this day. And David was afraid of God that day, saying, how shall I bring the ark of God home to me?” (l Chronicles 13:2-12)
The story of King David and the Ark of God is one of the most dramatic and instructive episodes in the Bible. It shows us how God desires to be worshiped and honored by his people, and how he responds when they disobey or disregard his instructions.
The Ark of God was a sacred chest that contained the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, a jar of manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded (Hebrews 9:4). It represented God’s presence and covenant with Israel. For many years, the ark was kept in a house in Kiriath Jearim, a town in Judah, after it was returned by the Philistines who had captured it and suffered plagues because of it (1 Samuel 7:2).
David, who had recently become king over all Israel, decided to bring the Ark to Jerusalem, his capital city. He consulted with his officers and the whole assembly of Israel, and they agreed that it was a good idea. David wanted to restore the worship of God among his people, who had neglected the Ark during the reign of Saul (1 Chronicles 13:3).
David gathered all Israel, from Egypt to Lebanon, to join him in this great undertaking (1 Chronicles 13:5). He went to Kiriath Jearim and brought out the Ark of God with great joy and celebration. He placed the Ark on a new cart, driven by Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab who had housed the Ark. David and all Israel played music and sang before God with all their might (1 Chronicles 13:6-8).
However, as they approached the threshing floor of Kidon, the oxen stumbled and Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah and he struck him down because he had touched the Ark. Uzzah died there before God (1 Chronicles 13:9-10).
David was angry and afraid because of what happened. He wondered how he could ever bring the Ark of God to his city (1 Chronicles 13:11-12). He decided not to take the Ark with him, but instead he took it to the house of Obed-Edom, a Gittite who lived nearby. The Ark of God remained with Obed-Edom and his family for three months, and the Lord blessed them and everything they had (1 Chronicles 13:13-14).
What can we learn from this account?
First, we learn that God is holy and he expects his people to treat him with reverence and obedience. The Ark was not a mere object or symbol; it was God’s dwelling place among his people. God had given specific instructions on how to handle and transport the ark in the book of Exodus. Only the Levites were authorized to carry the Ark on poles inserted through rings on its sides (Exodus 25:12-15; Numbers 7:9). No one was allowed to touch or look inside the Ark (Numbers 4:15). David and his people failed to follow these instructions; they used a cart instead of poles, and Uzzah touched the Ark with his hand. They may have meant well, but they did not honor God’s word. They were experiencing a “revival for the ages”, but it ended in heartbreak and fear because it was not a revival based on truth.
“For because ye did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.” 1 Chronicles 15:13
Second, we learn that God is gracious and he blesses those who welcome him into their lives. Obed-Edom was not an Israelite; he was a foreigner from Gath, the hometown of Goliath whom David had killed. Yet he received the Ark of God into his house with faith and humility. He did not fear or resent God’s presence; he embraced it. And God rewarded him with abundant blessings for himself and his family.
Third, we learn that God is sovereign and he accomplishes his purposes despite human failures or oppositions. David’s plan to bring the Ark to Jerusalem was delayed but not denied. After three months, David heard that Obed-Edom was blessed because of the Ark. He realized that God was not angry with him anymore; he was ready to resume his mission. He went back to Obed-Edom’s house and brought up the Ark to Jerusalem with more care and reverence than before (2 Samuel 6:12-15). He offered sacrifices and distributed gifts to all Israel. He danced before the Lord with all his might. He established a tent for the Ark in Jerusalem and appointed Levites to minister before it. He composed psalms of praise and thanksgiving to God for his goodness and faithfulness.
The story of David and the Ark of God is a story of revival for the ages. It shows us how God wants to dwell among his people and bless them with his presence and power. It also shows us how we need to worship him in spirit and in truth according to his word and will (John 4:23-24). It challenges us to examine our hearts and lives, and see if there is anything that hinders us from enjoying fellowship with God (2 Corinthians 13:5; James 1:22-25).
May we be like David, who sought after God’s presence with passion and perseverance. May we be like Obed-Edom, who welcomed God’s presence with faith and humility. May we be like Israel, who celebrated God’s presence with joy and gratitude.
And may we experience a revival for the ages in our generation.
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