David is now in a new home and he wants God near him. It’s time to bring the Ark of The Lord back with the people. It will be with GREAT fanfare and rejoicing.
The Philistines sent the Ark of The Lord on its way to Israel. They had captured it in battle and brought it to the temple of their god Dagon. The next morning he was flat on his face. They stood him back up and the next day he was on the ground again and his head was lopped off. Everywhere the Ark went in the nation of the Philistines troubled followed. To rid themselves of the curses they were suffering they made a new cart, placed the Ark on it, placed gifts with it, harnessed it to two cows who had just had calves and sent it on its way.
The cart and Ark made it to the town of Beth-Shemesh. It was unloaded and a sacrifice was made of the cows and the cart. But the people dared to look inside the Ark and God struck them dead. They then sent the Ark on to the town of Kiriath Jearim. It was taken into the house of Abinadab where it remained until David decided to bring it to Jerusalem.
This is where we pick up our story today. Let’s join David and his band as they bring the Ark of The Lord home.
Screech! Pump the brakes. Before we go any further I have to share some facts I found first.
I always assumed that David set up the Tabernacle of Moses in Jerusalem and the Ark was brought back into its customary place. Not so. Joshua brought the Tabernacle to its resting spot in Shiloh after taking it along with the people in their first years of battle for the Promised Land. God had chosen this spot for himself.
When Eli’s sons took the Ark from its place in the Tabernacle, they lost it in battle to the Philistines. We already talked about the Ark’s journey but what of the empty Tabernacle.
Somehow the Tabernacle is moved to Nob. I wonder if Samuel or Saul did this. We aren’t told. But during one of Saul’s rages, he has all the priests of Nob killed because they helped David. One priest escaped and he brought the priestly ephod with him to David.
I’m assuming that in a moment of regret or a desire to hear from God, Saul had the Tabernacle moved to Gibeon. The Levites began serving the Lord again as prescribed with sacrifices and offerings. But there was no ephod with which to consult the Lord and the Holy of Holies was empty. A shell of its former self.
When David brought the Ark to Jerusalem he set up a new tent for it. The Tabernacle remained in Gibeon. It never made the journey to Jerusalem. In fact none of the things of the Tabernacle ever made it to God’s ‘permanent home’ Solomon builds for Him. EVERYTHING is remade that is used in the Temple (1 Kings 7-8).
We are not told a lot about the Tent of David. We don’t see a veil separating the Ark from the priests. We don’t see articles for the daily sacrifices. David commanded that the regular sacrifices continue in Gibeon, even though the Ark was in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 16:4, 39-40). We do see that David appoints Levites to serve before the Ark. And we see that praise is the primary form of worship offered at the Tent of David. David appoints people to play lyres, harps, cymbals and trumpets on a regular basis. Music filled David’s heart and it filled the Tent of David too. This was David’s heart connection to the Lord.
I find it interesting that neither aspect was neglected but neither were they connected. Maybe David didn’t want the presence of the Lord going back into seclusion. He wanted better access to it. I wonder where the ephod ended up. Did it stay with David so he could continue to consult the Lord or was it returned to the Tabernacle of Moses?
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David’s house is completed. It is a magnificent home. It has room for all his wives, concubines and his children. Hiram, the king of Tyre had done an excellent job in design and construction. Surely a home fit for a king. But something is lacking.
That ‘something’ is the Ark of The Lord. David is very familiar with the story of how it was captured by the Philistines and then sent back to Israel. He longs to have it near him. It represents the Lord very presence.
As much as David longs for the presence of the Lord to be with him in Jerusalem he knows it would have an even bigger influence on the heart of the nation. Israel was a mess under Saul’s rule. Saul tended to the things that were urgent or interested him. Everyone and everything else was left to its own devices. Having the embodiment of God’s very presence available to the people would unite the kingdom like nothing else could. And putting the Heart of God with God’s anointed ruler of Israel could only strengthen the relationship of Israel and her God.
These are the thoughts following David around from day to day. He longs to be closer to the Lord. He also longs to bring the people of Israel back in relationship with Him.
At the moment, David’s ‘plate is clean’. He isn’t facing any dire battles. His home is finished. Things are humming along very nicely. Now is the time to make his desire a reality.
Thinking over how to do this David begins to lay out his plan. First he needs to inform the people of his desire. Next he has to get a commitment from them. Then they can go as a group and bring the Ark of The Lord to Jerusalem.
Wait; where will he put it? God’s presence needs a place that is special and set apart. David doesn’t want to bring it into his home because then the people wouldn’t have access to God. He wants it close by so sending it to the Tabernacle in Gibeon isn’t an option. If he were to decide to bring the Tabernacle to Jerusalem the people of Gibeon would revolt. Also the Tabernacle is only supposed to move when God says so.
“I can construct a tent of my own” thinks David.
It won’t have to be as elaborate as the Tabernacle. It will be designed to hold only one item; the Ark of The Lord. But it also needs a courtyard and gate to protect it from those who would seek to hurt the Ark. “In this tent there will ALWAYS be music!”
David describes his plan to the builders and they begin construction. The fabrics of the tent follow the same lines as those in the Tabernacle of Moses. It takes two months to complete it to David’s exacting specifications and satisfaction.
When construction of the tent is nearly completed David sends messages throughout his kingdom. “Come and see what the Lord will do in this great nation! Assemble together in Jerusalem on the first day of the month of Adar in the city of Jerusalem. We will proceed as one people and retrieve that which has been left in seclusion too long; the Ark of our Lord. We will bring it to the city of David where it will be for all the people a testament to our commitment to our Lord.”
Excitement runs high throughout the land. It has been about 20 years since the Ark of The Lord was returned by the Philistines. The home of Abinadab has seen many blessings since its arrival. Now the nation will begin to heal too.
Abinadab was pleased when he heard the news. He has enjoyed the Lord’s blessings but he knows that the Ark belongs with the people, not just one family. He begins preparations for the move by constructing a new cart to David’s exact specifications. This is the manner in which the Philistines delivered the Ark back to Israel. All will be ready when David leads the people to retrieve the Ark.
The city is bustling with people. Tomorrow is the first day of the month of Adar. All the last minute preparations are being taken care of. The tent David commissioned stands ready on the hill. Mothers plait their daughter’s hair so they will be fresh for the morning. Men oil their phylacteries and groom their beards. Tomorrow is a special day!
The cocks crows to welcome the day. The people rise from their beds, mats and tents throughout the hills of Jerusalem. David bounds from his bed with a spring in his step. He is lighter than air today. He quickly dresses in his finest robe. He wants to look his best for the Lord and for the people.
It is time for the morning sacrifice in Gibeon. This is the hour David has chosen to begin the march to Kiriath Jearim; Baale-judah. It takes the 30,000 plus people several hours to make the journey to the home of Abinadab.
David and the people could be heard LONG before they arrived at the home of Abinadab. “Father, they are nearly here!”
“Ready the cart my sons. I’m sure they won’t want to tarry.”
Uzzah and Ahio harness the oxen for the trip to the new cart their father had created. It is a beautiful cart and a fine pair of oxen. The Ark of The Lord will ride in style!
The procession finally reaches the door. Abinadab bows before David. “Welcome to my humble home my king. May you be welcome within my walls.”
“I greet you with thanks and appreciate your welcome. We have come to see the Ark of the Lord safely to Jerusalem; the city of David. Is it ready for travel?”
“It is my king. Allow my sons to bring it out to you. Uzzah, Ahio; bring the Ark of the Lord and place it on its cart.”
Uzzah and Ahio lift the Ark from where it has stood for more than two decades and carefully carry it out of their father’s house. They ensure that its covering is in place before approaching the door. They then move to the cart that will carry this precious cargo safely to Jerusalem. Abinadab is holding the oxen still as his sons load the Ark of The Lord onto the new cart. Everything goes smoothly and the people release a collective sight.
David can hold in his joy no longer. He begins to sing praises to the Lord. The rest of the people join in as the oxen begin the most important journey of their lives.
(to be continued)
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There was SO MUCH I didn’t know about this story it amazes me. I couldn’t wait to share it with you, so, I put it in first (as you already saw). I wonder how many others were surprised by this information. I am curious about David’s decision to construct a new tent. Why not bring the Tabernacle? What did this new tent really look like? How would access to this one differ from the original God commissioned? What did God think about a second ‘home’? We don’t see David consulting God about his plans. We will see tomorrow the cost of that error.
Father God, thank You for opening my eyes and helping me see new things in Your word. What I learned today was already there if I had only put the pieces together earlier. I suppose now was the right time. I will never forget this lesson. I have found that this kind of lesson sticks a LOT longer in my mind than the ones where I read and move on. Thank You for sending me searching Your word.
Thank You also for creating music and praise. Music was such an integral part of David’s life. It is in mine too. I love starting each day with a song in my heart. I LOVE singing to You with all my heart! If that be foolish, call me a fool!
Thank You that I can enter into Your presence without the need of an artifact. You have thrown open the doors and welcomed me to ‘sit in Your lap’. “Tell me another story about…”