David does his research and realizes why God was angry the last time they were bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. He addresses it and the Ark finishes its journey.
God was pleased that David wanted to bring His presence back into the midst of the people but He had rules that had to be followed. When He commissioned His Ark He told the people how to care for it and how to transport it. It wasn’t just a ‘how’ but a ‘who’ was attached to it. All this was revealed when David asked God for direction. Last time he only consulted the people and we saw how that ended.
David truly wanted the Ark of the Lord near him. He is willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen, IF God will allow it.
I’m going to write as though David had already erected the Tent when he planned to bring the Ark into Jerusalem the first time. It stood empty and waiting for three months. It was a constant reminder to David of the events of that fateful day. The death of Uzzah both scared and confused David. But he wasn’t ready at that time to look beyond the hurt and find what needed to be done. It would take the knowledge of the fact that God was blessing Obed-edom to stir David back into action.
Every morning David rises and he is greeted by the sight of the empty tent. The tent he intended to fill with the presence of the Lord; the Ark itself. His heart aches each time he catches a glimpse of it out his window.
The events of that day play in a loop through his mind. He remembers his joy and pride he felt as the procession left Jerusalem on its mission. The fellowship of the people was intoxicating. EVERYONE was united in this task. The silent awe that settled over the people as the Ark of the Lord was brought from the house and placed on the new cart was so thick David could taste it. The celebration grew with each step as the cart was led over the same roads that David imagined would bring people to the Lord each day. But then everything changed.
A ‘sound’ that haunts David to this day split the air. It was the sound of God’s anger striking Uzzah for his attempt to steady the Lord’s Ark. There were several sounds made at that moment that have forever fused in David’s mind. The crack of lightning as it split the air, the scream of pain from Uzzah’s lips and the collective gasp of those who directly witnessed the anger of the Lord. David wasn’t looking at the Ark when it happened. He was preceding it on its journey with joyous abandon. He was singing and dancing before the Lord. That ‘sound’ stopped him in his tracks. He whirled around to locate its source and his eyes immediately fell on the body of Uzzah. His flesh was charred and smoke rose off him like the evaporating dew of the morning.
Everyone stood still. The musician’s instruments fell silent and no one moved for what seemed like an eternity. And then the screams broke out. People scrambled to get as far away from Uzzah and the Ark as they could. Some were trampled in the mad rush to safety until David’s guards started demanding order from the people. The guards’ voices cut through the chaos of the people like men in battle are trained to do. The people didn’t respond as quickly as a battle trained troop would but they did settle. When order was restored, David dismissed the people to their homes.
“We have angered the Lord. I know not our sin that has brought such a fierce response from Him but we dare not go any further least He be forced to discipline us all. Return to your homes. I will seek the Lord on behalf of Israel and learn what He would have us do.”
The crowd broke up in clumps and began their journeys to their own homes while David, the priests and his guards stood silent by the Ark.
Tears soaked David’s beard as he wept that day. One of the priests suggested bringing the Ark to the home of Obed-edom, a Levite who lived nearby. This last leg of the journey was accomplished without fanfare.
As the door closed on the home of Obed-edom, David was overwhelmed with emotions. On one side he felt deep sorrow at not being able to give Israel the presence of their Lord. On the other side, he was fearful of the Lord and what He may do to deal with Israel’s sin. As he is leaving the area with what remains of the congregation he issues one last order. This order is given to two men; the chief Levite of the city of Jerusalem and the head of his guards on this journey.
“Maintain a watch on the house of Obed-edom and bring me word as to how he fares and cares for the Ark of the Lord.”
Both men indicate their understanding of David’s orders and take up the task as if their lives depended on it.
More than two months have passed and still these are the thoughts that circle through David’s heart on a daily basis. David has to shake off this brooding as he prepares himself for another day. Soon after seating himself for judgment the chief Levite from the city of Jerusalem stands before him.
“You bring me news” intones David.
“I do my lord. I bring news of the house of Obed-edom.”
“And what news would that be?”
“The Lord has not ceased to bless Obed-edom since the arrival of His Ark. His presence is clearly in residence in the home.”
“This is welcome news indeed but it also begs the question of why the Lord was not with us when we traveled with His Ark.”
“The Book of the Law would be a place to search for such an answer my lord.”
“Indeed it would! Bring it before me this day and we will search it out.”
The chief Levite bowed and quickly exited to retrieve the king’s copy of the Law. While David waited he dismissed the rest of the people seeking an audience with him that day.
David loved the words of the Lord. He relished having a copy of them available to the king, as God commanded, but lately he resisted turning to them. If he were being honest with himself, he would say that he was still angry with the Lord for Uzzah’s death. The man meant no disrespect with his actions.
When the Levite returned he and David got serious about their search. They first sought out the Lord’s words to Moses regarding the creation of the pieces for the Tabernacle. It was always exciting reading about how the Lord put the vision of all that was created in the hearts of those whose hands fashioned each piece. The descriptions given paled in comparison to the real thing but they gave enough detail that it would be clear to every reader how careful the Lord was in His instructions.
The construction description didn’t hold the answers David was seeking so he moved on. The next place he searched was where the placement and dedication of the items created was addressed. Here too David found he lacked clear insight into the sin Israel had committed that day.
When David reached the section detailing how the pieces of the Tabernacle, including the Ark, were to be transported he KNEW he had found his answer. As he heard the words read from the scrolls he felt both enlightenment and enormous guilt.
He had been the one responsible for Uzzah’s death by not following the directives of the Lord. In his haste to have the Ark of the Lord among the people he had missed two VERY important requirements. He had arranged for the Ark to be transported on a new cart instead of being borne on the shoulders of the sons of Kohath. He had also not approached the task with the holiness it demanded. The Levites who were in attendance had not consecrated themselves nor were there sacrifices made along the way.
David wanted to try again to bring the Ark of the Lord to the people but THIS TIME he would follow the Lord’s command in doing so. Starting with asking the Lord’s permission.
“Bring the ephod” David commanded once he was satisfied that he knew where his sin lay.
The Levite reappeared shortly after being dispatched. He donned the garment and waited for David to make known his inquiry of the Lord.
“Inquire of the Lord if I may bring up the Ark of the Lord to the city of Jerusalem.”
The Levite was silent for a moment while he listened. “The Lord says you shall surely bring it up but ONLY by MY standards.”
David’s heart sang and he immediately began preparations.
“Assemble the leaders of the Levites. I have instructions for them.”
David also sent dispatches to each of the tribes. He wanted all Israel to participate in this event. When the Levites were assembled David gave them their orders.
“You are the heads of the father’s houses of the Levites. Consecrate yourselves, you and your brothers, so that you may bring up the Ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, to the place that I have prepared for it. Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rules” (verses 12-13).
The Levites recognized the discernment in David’s statement immediately. They needed to be holy in order to serve the Lord. They would go through the highest form of purification for the upcoming task.
While the Levites proceeded through the requirements of consecration David turned his attention to the others who would be in attendance during this procession, including the animals he planned to sacrifice along the way. Each tribe would provide a portion of the animals needed that day so that none would be overburdened. The distance was much shorter than the original distance but the plan David had in mind would use a LARGE amount of animals.
Finally the day arrived. David rose before the sun so he could bathe and dress in his best robe for the day. Most of David’s household would accompany him but Michal had made it clear to him that she would not be in attendance. She felt it was undignified for the wife of the king to be seen is such a crowd. David did not press her on this as he only wanted those in attendance whose hearts were focused on the Lord.
Jerusalem was packed with people ready to accompany the presence of the Lord into their midst. The city, the valley, and the hills surrounding Jerusalem were teaming with people ready for their Lord.
David and the Levites led the procession from the city at the hour of the morning sacrifice. The people fell in behind them as they made their way from Jerusalem to the home of Obed-edom. The journey was short and the people camped around Jerusalem nearly reached his doorstep.
When the procession reached the doorstep Obed-edom greeted them warmly and opened his door for the Uriel and his Kohath brothers to enter and retrieve the ark. Four of them approached the corners. They looked to one another before the leading two lifted the Ark of the Lord by its poles. They carefully shifted the poles from their hands onto their shoulders. The Ark would be carried by two men alone until it was out of the house and then the two remaining men would shift into place and carry the Ark between the four men.
As the Ark passed through the doorway the crowd waiting outside the house broke out in spontaneous songs of praise. David couldn’t have planned this any better if he had kept them practicing for six months.
The musicians began to play and the Ark progressed forward six paces. At that point seven bulls and seven rams were brought to Zadok who offered them as a sacrifice to the Lord. Music, dancing, praises filled the countryside. This became the order of the entire procession; six steps, sacrifice, and worship with abandon.
David got so carried away in his praises before the Lord that he threw aside his royal robe and danced with all his might before the Lord. As they neared the city Michal looked out her window. She saw David dancing with all his might wearing only his ephod. The sight angered and disgusted her. HER father would never have done such a thing. She held her tongue until she could speak to David alone but her ire kept rising while she waited.
David and the procession went directly to the Tent that stood waiting for the Ark. Uriel and his three helpers carried the Ark of the Lord into its new resting place. This occurred at the hour of the evening sacrifice.
The people celebrated with a feast David had prepared for the occasion and they were given gifts to take home. Most of the gifts were of food but other items would serve as a reminder of this day and the blessings God had bestowed on them this day and a promise of those to come. NONE were to become idols for the people. David made certain to stress this point.
As the sky turned black with the advancing of the night David made his way home. David was still riding high on the excitement of the day. His intention was to bless those of his house who had remained behind.
Michal had nursed her outrage as the time wore on. By the time she was able to confront David her whole body was quivering with fury. Her words were venom as she spit them at David.
“How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today!” she said. “He has uncovered himself today in the sight of the maidservants of his subjects, like a vulgar person would do” (2 Samuel 6:20b).
David was struck dumb for only a moment before he replied with strength.
“I was dancing before the LORD, who chose me over your father and all his house when He appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel. I will celebrate before the LORD, and I will humiliate and humble myself even more than this. Yet I will be honored by the maidservants of whom you have spoken” (2 Samuel 6:21-22)
David turned and left. He would never again look on Michal the same. His words carried truth and strength but her barbs still wounded him. He would bring them to the Lord and ask for His assistance in healing. He would have NOTHING come between himself and the Lord.
I LOVE how David was willing to do whatever it took to repair his relationship (and the people’s) with the Lord. He had to search out the answers, repent for his behavior, and correct the situation. He should have known from the beginning as God commanded the king to have a copy of the Law and to meditate on it day and night. David had probably acted on the portions of the Law he had learned over the years without searching out the original words. We can find ourselves way out in ‘left field’ when we go from memory alone.
I had a time when I was teaching Sunday School and wanted to tell a story I had heard in my youth. I wanted to find the scripture reference for it so I could be sure to tell it correctly. Come to find out that story didn’t come from scripture but from someone’s imagination. It became a folktale instead of a fact. My mom was as surprised as I was to find out that the story we had both been told wasn’t true. Actually, it may have been true because it sounded like something God would do but it wasn’t in the scriptures.
My point is, ask God what His word contains. Do this by spending time reading it for yourself. Don’t rely on someone else to fill you in on what He has to say to you. Get it directly from Him.
Father God, You never fail to bring something special to me when we spend time together. Even the stories I have heard thousands of times are still filled with new insight and ideas that You put there for us to find together. Like an Easter egg hunt, some are easy to find while others take diligent searching and a few hints along the way. Keep me searching! Keep working in my heart with what You reveal too. I don’t want an ‘ah ha’ moment to be left on the coffee table waiting until I get back to it someday. I want each and every encounter with You to go deep in my heart and bear fruit. Let me be like David who put Your correction in action which resulted in an even deeper relationship with You.