11. Reverence, Obedience, and God-hungry Hearts

Scripture: 2 Samuel 6

Could one overstate the significance of the ark?  We wonder why the Israelites didn’t cherish the ark of the covenant.  Stunningly, they let it gather dust for thirty years in the house of a priest who lived seven miles west of Jerusalem.  Neglected. Ignored.  But just-crowned David determines to change that.  After he settles the city of Jerusalem, he makes the return of the chest his top priority.  

They gather near the home of Abinadab, the priest.  His two sons, Uzzah and Ahio, are put in charge of the transport.  They load the ark on an ox-drawn wagon and begin the march.  Trumpets blast, songs erupt, and all goes well for a while until they hit a patch of rough road.  The oxen stumble, the wagon shakes, and the ark shifts.  Uzzah extends his hand to steady it and “he died” (2 Samuel 6:7).

This will dampen a parade real quick.  Everyone goes home. Deeply distressed, David returns to Jerusalem.  The ark is kept at the home of Obed-Edom while David sorts things out.  Surprisingly, “The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household” (6:11).

Uzzah’s tragedy teaches this:  God comes on his own terms.  He gave specific instructions as to the care and transport of the ark. Only the priests could draw near it.  And then only after they had offered sacrifices for themselves and their families (Leviticus 16).  The ark would be lifted, not with hands, but with acacia poles.  Priests ran long rods through the rings on the corners to carry the ark.  Uzzah should have known this.  He was a priest, a descendant of Aaron himself.  The ark had been kept in the house of his father, Abinadab.  He had grown up with it.  Uzzah exchanges commands for convenience, using a wagon instead of poles and bulls instead of priests.  We see no obedience or sacrifice; we see expediency.  

The message: don’t grow lax before the holy.  God won’t be loaded on convenient wagons.  Don’t confuse Him with a genie who pops out at the rub of a lamp. God comes on His own terms.  He comes when commands are revered, hearts are clean, and confession is made. 

Three months pass before David returns for the ark.  He does so with a different protocol.  Priests replace bulls.  Sacrifice replaces convenience.  Levites prepare “themselves for service to the Lord.”  They use “special poles to carry the Ark of God on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded, just as the Lord had said they should” (1 Chronicle 15: 14-15). 

No one hurries.  “And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, that David sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep” (2 Samuel 6:13).  David dances mightily before the Lord (6:14).  David “blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty.  Then he gave a gift of food to every man and woman in Israel; a loaf of bread, a cake of dates, and a cake of raisins” (6:18-19).  God is with us.  That is the reason to celebrate.

God looks for reverence, obedience, and God-hungry hearts.  

Reference:  Facing your giants:  God still does the impossible by Max Lucado

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