David decides to bring the Ark of the Lord to Jerusalem. David starts this journey with the people firmly beside him.
We encountered this story in the book of 2 Samuel 6. In today’s reading we see something that we didn’t in the previous telling of this story. We see that David consults the people before making this decision. “David consulted with the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with every leader” (verse 1).
Each tribe who came to David were represented by military powers as well as leaders. David, being a military man, went to the military leaders first but he didn’t leave the decision in the hands of the military. He wanted ALL of Israel to weigh in on this decision. ALL the tribes were gathered together to make this decision. And they should ONLY do it if it seems as if it is from the Lord.
I was trying to research to see if the Ark of the Lord was returned to Israel during the reign of Saul. I had no idea I was opening up such a hotly debated subject. The main problem arises from the fact that we were not given hard fast dates for 1) a firm length and start date for Saul’s reign and 2) the ages of David, Saul and Samuel when most of the events took place.
We do know that Eli died when the Ark was captured and that it remained in Philistine hands for 7 months. Samuel most likely became the judge of Israel upon Eli’s death and he anointed Saul sometime after that. This makes me think that the Ark came back during Samuel’s time as judge instead of during Saul’s reign.
Samuel’s sons took on the duties of judges at some point but they were corrupt. The people asked for a king because they didn’t want to live under Samuel’s sons’ corrupt leadership. This led to the anointing of Saul and later David.
Samuel was “old” when he anointed Saul but we don’t know how old. He anointed David some time later but we don’t know the length of time between those two events. We know that Samuel died before David took the throne but we don’t have an age for his death.
David could not have called for the Ark to be brought to Jerusalem until he was installed by the people as king over Israel instead of just Judah. This puts the ark coming to Jerusalem into at least the first year in David’s reign in Jerusalem; minimum of 7.5 years after Saul’s death.
With regard to Saul’s reign we have two different times given. In Acts 13:21 Paul gives us a figure of 40 years but he doesn’t specify that this was the length of Saul’s reign only that they had Saul for 40 years. Paul was ‘painting Israel’s history in broad strokes’ for his reader. He could have been saying that Saul was 40 when he died, when he took the throne or he reigned for 40 years. I don’t really know because he didn’t get specific. In 1 Samuel 13:1 we have a verse that says Saul was 1 when he began to reign and reigned for 2 years. This is from the ESV translation I have, but other translations state that the verse is corrupted and don’t put any numbers in. We know that he was at least an adult when he was anointed by Samuel because he was hiding with the baggage when Samuel called him forward.
What we do know is that Saul served for at least a little while before he committed enough sins that God chose to remove him from his office and had Samuel anoint David. We know that David was in Saul’s good graces until after he killed Goliath. David played the harp and soothed Saul’s spirit. Saul hid his hatred of David for a while and David remained serving under him. Then David went on the run because Saul’s anger became uncontrollable. How long each of these steps took is unknown. With all the places mentioned that David fled to I would think it took multiple years.
That was quite a ‘rabbit trail’! I really was going somewhere with this. My point was, why didn’t Saul seek to bring the Ark of the Lord back to the people? I believe it was a heart issue. Saul focused on making the kingdom his own. David’s concern was bringing that kingdom back to the Lord.
David was in love with the Lord! He wanted a deeper relationship with Him all the time. He sought the Lord in song. He looked for Him in creation. He saw His ‘fingerprints’ ALL OVER. And he asked for His direction.
David wanted the presence of the Lord back among the people and close enough that he could ‘spend time with Him’ every day. He wanted the Ark available and accessible. And he wanted Israel to want it too.
Can you hear him in this meeting? He is telling the people all the benefits of having the Ark with them.
“We can consult the Lord again in times of uncertainty.” “We can praise Him and know that He hears us.” “We can care for His presence as a people instead of leaving it hidden away.” “We can take the ark before us in battle once again IF He tells us to.” “We can once again be a people FULL of His presence!” “We NEED Him every day and in every way!” “We need to show Him that we honor Him with more than just our words.” “Let’s bring our God back into our midst where He TRULY longs to be.”
And the people said, “SOLD!” to David’s pleas. They would go as a people to bring the Ark of the Lord to the midst of the people.
I hope I can ‘sell’ people on the worth of Jesus. I pray I share His benefits clearly. I pray I share His LOVE freely and draw people to Him. David’s divided nation reunited for the joy of returning to the Lord. I pray the divisions within the body of Christ would heal and we would ALL seek His presence instead of ‘our roles’.
Father God help me show You in ALL I do. I know I wasn’t shining Your love through last night when Steve made so many trips to the bathroom at bedtime that I lost count. I need Your help in that area of my life; frustration. My heart’s desire is to show Your love to ALL the people I interact with, not just those I might be trying to witness to. How can I truly say You are Lord of my life if I don’t live like it all the time?
Because You ARE Lord. I’m in training, not You. Your patience is AMAZING but I want to stop challenging it. Thank You for never giving up on me and for changing me day by day to be the woman You created me to be. You are MY Lord. I am YOUR child.