I Chronicles 13-16
2 Samuel 6
Those of us who were rooting for the Seattle Mariners in 1997 will never forget their division championship win. Maybe your team has celebrated a "big win" some season, some game, some play. Can you imagine telling the winners of a divisional series or the World Series that they shouldn't express any joy or emotion?
The conversation might go as follows: "Now listen, the dignity of the game is at stake here; the grand tradition of baseball might be demeaned. Those watching the game for the first time might think you are fanatical by the way you are acting. They might never come back to another game if you get too excited. So dial down the emotion—and don't embarrass the other fans by your actions."
Most people would think those comments were comical, or even maddening. A person who would make those types of comments has no understanding of the game, and we would give no credence to their opinion.
It almost goes without saying:
There are guidelines/laws we can't break in our celebration, but within those boundaries we have a lot of freedom to cheer, especially when key plays, hits, or wins take place!
Without being irreverent, I believe we can apply these observations to us. Baseball celebrations have some instructional value that can impact individual or corporate worship; that is, if you want to listen to the encouragement of Scripture.
For example, David wrote a psalm in 1 Chronicles 16:8-36. As we read this psalm, there are a number of questions that come to mind.
|8 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.
9 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.
10 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
11 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.
12 Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, 13 O descendants of Israel his servant, O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones.
14 He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.
19 When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it, 20 they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another.
23 Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.
34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
- What was it that caused this outburst of joy?
- How can we improve and grow in our worship before God?
- How can we have a deeper and more meaningful praise that is appropriately celebrated within the framework and guidelines of Scripture?
- How can we become so focused on God that praise and worship is a natural expression of a joyful and thankful heart?
The Problem InvestigatedWhat was going on in Israel at this time? Let's focus on two settings:
The Historical SettingAt this time, David was king over all Israel and Judah. The kingdom was stronger than ever before—1 Sam. 5:25.
There was, however, another condition in Israel that was critical to its continued strength and stability.
The Spiritual SettingThe most essential need at this time was to put God in the center of Israel's life. Under David's predecessor Saul, the nation's faith had fallen into disrepair, and its people had neglected their spiritual walk and the sacrificial system. The tabernacle (the place of worship) had deteriorated and its furnishings scattered. David, thankfully, was committed to reestablishing worship in two ways:
- having Jerusalem as a center of worship
- securing the ark of the covenant, finding all the articles of furnishings that belonged in the tabernacle, and arranging them in their proper order
That doesn't sound like a big deal, until we remember that in Old Testament times the temple was the visual representation of God and His presence (note the space devoted to the contents and arrangement of the tabernacle/temple.
Therefore, with the military leaders of Israel, David devised a plan to get everything back to its rightful place—1 Chronicles 13:1-4; 2 Samuel 6:1. In summary, he gave three directives:
1 Chronicles 13:1-3—1] David conferred with each of his officers, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2] He then said to the whole assembly of Israel, "If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the LORD our God, let us send word far and wide to the rest of our brothers throughout the territories of Israel, and also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their towns and pasturelands, to come and join us. 3] Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not inquire of it during the reign of Saul."Did you catch the three directives?
- Let the Levites and priests join us.
- Let us bring the ark of God back to us.
If you read on in this section, you will see the ark was located in Kiriath Jearim on a hill at Abinadab's house. This is about 8-10 miles from Jerusalem, definitely not a special location for an ark. The ark had apparently been there 70 years: 20 years of Philistine supremacy, 40 years during the reign of Saul, and about 7-10 since then.
- Let us not be like Saul. I want to mention this now because later in the text we will see that David didn't do much better than Saul in this area. He confessed Saul's sin, but we will see that later he, too, failed to inquire of the Lord for His plan. He confirmed his choice not by inquiring of God, but because it seemed right and it was confirmed by all the people.
v. 4—The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people.
The CelebrationWe'll call it
Praise Parade #1
1 Chron. 13: 5-6—So David assembled all the Israelites, from the Shihor River in Egypt to Lebo Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim. 6] David and all the Israelites with him went to Baalah of Judah (Kiriath Jearim) to bring up from there the ark of God the LORD...The excitement is high, as you can imagine. The people are coming from all over the nation to see the ark moved. Try to picture the elation of this celebration; like a graduation, wedding, birthday, and revival meeting all on the same day. The people are emotionally charged and yet deeply stirred at the significance of what they are about to see. Praise Parade #1 is about to begin.
v. 6b—...who is enthroned between the cherubim—the ark that is called by the Name.
The ark was the central piece of furniture in the tabernacle. Wherever it was located was the spot where God met His people.
The ark was a gold box, with a cover called the mercy seat. At each end was a cherub of hammered gold, with wings outstretched over the mercy seat. Within were three objects:
- a golden jar holding manna
- Aaron's rod that budded, and
- the tablets with the Ten Commandments.
It's difficult for us to grasp this side of the cross, because today we have no inanimate objects where God's special presence resides—no holy objects we can look at. In David's day, however, God's glory resided on this ark; it was a holy piece of furniture! We must understand this if we are to grasp what happens later.
So with the assembly and the main attraction in focus, let's look at the description of the arrangements.
vv. 7-8—They moved the ark of God from Abinadab's house on a new cart, with Uzzah and Ahio guiding it.
There was a new cart for the ark (see appendix and 1 Sam. 5-6:7). This was the way the Philistines had sent the ark back to Israel after capturing it. You remember from 1 Sam. 5-6 that death, destruction and tumors fell upon them as long as they had the ark. So they finally sent it back on a new cart (1 Sam. 6:7) hoping the animals pulling it would take it back to Israel. This sounds commendable, but it was actually a serious error. David should have searched the Scripture or had the priests investigate as to the proper way to transport the ark.
|Principle: Mark it down, man's method of doing God's will, will eventually fail.
The cart was guided by two men—v. 7b. They were Uzzah and Ahio; according to 2 Sam. 6:3, they were the sons of the man at whose home the ark had resided. Ahio was walking in front to guide the cart; Uzzah was behind, or at the side. Music was the other part of the celebration.
v. 8—David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, cymbals and trumpets.We should try to picture this celebration: not just a show, but unto the Lord. Before we see the result of David's action (transporting the ark on a cart), notice again the energy exhibited in this praise parade.
|Does God care if we aren't totally obedient to Him, as long as we praise Him? Isn't that all that matters?
No. He is more interested in our obedience than our praise (see 1 Sam. 15:22-23).
vv. 9-10—When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. 10] The LORD'S anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.What went wrong?
- There was the wrong zeal. It was a good idea done in human strength and wisdom (see Rom. 10:1-4). It was more like a town parade, with plenty of litter, music and excitement, but was not inspired by the Spirit or Scripture. It was zeal without knowledge. This tendency (trying to do a good work in a wrong fashion) had been a consistent problem with the Israelites. It was more than zealous action, however, that brought this about.
The guilt of our actions depends on our knowledge or means of attaining it. If we have the light and live in the darkness, we will pay the price—Heb. 10:29-31.
- There was the wrong response—there was no reverence for the ark. We have to look at a parallel passage, however, to discover this. Second Samuel 6:7 tells us, "the Lord's anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act, therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God." The 1 Chronicles passage doesn't reveal it, but God looked on the hearts of the participants, who were guilty of more than an innocent act of trying to protect the ark. God had specified how the ark was to be built, handled and transported (Num. 3:31; 4:15; 7:9), and they disregarded his instruction.
- There was the wrong reaction to the tragedy by David.
v. 11—Then David was angry because the LORD'S wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah. 12] David was afraid of God that day and asked, "How can I ever bring the ark of God to me"?Certainly the tragic events had spoiled the day and placed David in a bad light before his subjects. His anger may have revealed something about David and how he viewed God's ways. But David was not only angry; he was also afraid. Instead of taking the ark into Jerusalem, he left it at the nearest Levite's house.
Then a strange thing happened:
- The wrong place became a place of blessing.
v. 14—The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the LORD blessed his household and everything he had.
Let's pause for a moment, at the end of the first praise parade, to mention a number of concepts.
- The presence of God at the center of man's life is foundational to all meaningful worship and praise. When God is at the center of our lives, true and meaningful praise can come forth if the next principle is recognized.
- The blessing of God is fully realized through full obedience; or it is a judgment realized through disobedience. It is our choice. We can't just obey God in a few things and hope He will overlook the rest, especially when it comes to our heart in worship.
- God is not bribed by sincerity, sweet music and praise. More than sacrifice, He wants complete obedience (see Psalm 51:15-17).
The Plan AdjustedEventually, new plans were made for Praise Parade #2.
This time, however, it would be different. The praise parade would be bigger and better than the previous one, and most importantly, the new plans would be considered only after consulting the Scripture.
Notice the changes that were made in the parade.
1 Chron. 15:1—After David had constructed buildings for himself in the City of David, he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it.They were taking the ark to Jerusalem, the center of religious life, and preparing a specific site for it (Ex. 15:9; 26:1,12-15; 39:32). This was not mentioned earlier, so it appears this was a new arrangement. What it looked like, we don't know for sure. Judging by the careful attention David gave to God's instructions in transporting the ark, I think it is safe to say the site would be similar to the tabernacle Moses constructed in the wilderness.
The people of Israel were also present, assembled as before, but different in a significant way. Their attitude toward the event was different from the last time, because their view of the ark had been adjusted by the catastrophe and by God's Word.
|People often believe that showing up at church and worshipping God is placating Him and that He will overlook their disobedience—until the logical consequences of their sin take place. As they are recovering from the effects of their sin, they come back to God with a new appreciation for His holiness and demands for centrality in their life.
- Exterior Preparation: The consecration of the Levites was commanded. This consisted of different observances, depending on the person and the occasion. Mostly it involved the washing of the body and clothes, and keeping oneself separate from things considered unclean—Ex. 19:22; 28:41; Lev. 8:12; 20:7; 21:8.
- Internal Preparation: The king confessed—v. 13.
It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the LORD our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.The Levites didn't carry the ark the first time, because David didn't inquire of God as to how the ark should be carried. He made up his plan, trying to obey God without checking with the Word. Ironically, David had said that Saul didn't inquire of the Lord, but he did not do any better. The ark would now be carried according to the Word. They were doing the right thing in the right way!
v. 16—David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals.
- v. 17a-18—So the Levites appointed... (and their names are listed) ...the gatekeepers
- vv. 19-21—The musicians... (and their names are mentioned) ...were to play the lyres according to the alamoth and (others) ...were to play the harps...
- v. 22—Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it.
- v. 23—Berekiah and Elkanah were to be doorkeepers for the ark.
- v. 24—(others were given responsibility to)...blow trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-Edom and Jehiah were also to be doorkeepers for the ark. (The doorkeepers were to protect the ark so it would not be opened.)
The Principles of Music in Worship
|Application for Musicians: It is obvious that the variety of music depended on the attention and practice each of the priests gave to his individual ministry and instrument. It is true that God asks for joyful noise, but that in no way implies inept and unprepared praise. God calls some to enhance our worship and praise through skillful use of instruments. If you are one of them, you should continue to grow to your maximum potential, but measure your skill against your potential, not someone else's. Also, pray for God's anointing.
|Application to All Believers: For those unskilled in playing an instrument, the Lord is interested that we grow in the content of our praise. The Psalms is a good praise teacher; expand the content of your praise by mimicking its words and instructions. Eventually you will be able to praise the Lord in your own way.|
1 Chron. 15: 25-28—So David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of units of a thousand went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the house of Obed-Edom, with rejoicing. 26] Because God had helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD, seven bulls and seven rams were sacrificed. 27] Now David was clothed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as were the singers, and Kenaniah, who was in charge of the singing of the choirs. David also wore a linen ephod. 28] So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouts, with the sounding of rams' horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps.Take note of what the participants did:
The priests/Levites carried the ark in the prescribed way, and sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams. (Compare to 2 Sam. 6:13.) It is possible that David offered his sacrifices along the route, or at its beginning. Then at the end, the Levites offered their sacrifices, because God had helped them carry the ark safely—1 Chron. 15:26.
The elders and the commanders were involved (16:25) with David in bringing the ark back to Jerusalem. Three months earlier, David was fearful and angry. By this time his attitude and actions had been adjusted, and he was rejoicing with all his might.
He wore a robe of fine linen. In fact, he took off his royal robes and wore the same garments as the Levites, the singers, and the choir director. It appears that David was attempting to rank himself on this occasion with the servants of the ark. He could have claimed more because in his office he was the representative of God, but he humbled himself, like Christ who "made Himself nothing...taking the very nature of a servant"—Phil. 2:7.
He also wore a linen ephod, which was worn by the high priests (Ex. 28:4-12) and by Samuel (1 Sam. 2:18). Whatever the purpose for his clothing, it was highly unusual for a king to wear these clothes in public and it brought disrespect from some, as we shall see. Not only were David's clothes noteworthy; his actions were, too.
1 Chron. 15:29—v. 29—As the ark of the covenant of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David dancing and celebrating, she despised him in her heart. (See also 2 Sam. 6:14-15.)
|How do we know if an expression of worship is over-zealous or appropriate? Here are some questions to ask about forms of worship:
It is obvious that David's dancing before the Lord was a spontaneous expression of his joy, because the ark had been restored to his people. What kind of dancing was this? The word means "springing around in half circles to the sound of music." It was fervent: "...with all his might." Why? Was he overzealous? How would you know?
Notice the parade involved the choirs and instruments.
v. 28—So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouts, with the sounding of rams' horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps.All of Israel was participating with a variety of sounds: shouts; the sounds of rams horns and trumpets; cymbals; lyres and harps; choirs. (See Psalm 150— "...Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.")
Finally the parade ended, but the praise continued.
The proper place was reached, and offerings and gifts were presented—vv. 1-3. The praise was continued through the permanent appointment of the Levites (v. 4.), and the psalm of thanksgiving was performed (vv. 7-36). Doesn't that sound like a fantastic celebration? God was finally back in the center of Israel's life.
But we skipped over the fact that the event had its detractors, a problem David still had to deal with.
Not everyone loved David's praise. 2 Samuel 6:20 says his wife Michal "despised him in her heart." Why was she in the window? Was she too proud and embarrassed at David's display? Was she angry? Was David undressed, disrobed?
She may have been mad at what David said about her father's failure to obey—13:3. Maybe she was unschooled in the importance of the ark. Maybe she thought she was too good to humble herself and participate. We don't know for sure why she responded the way she did, but it appears her chief concern was the way David appeared; that he was undignified, disrobed and vulgar. The truth, however, is that he was not disrobed. That he was wearing a servant's garment was her focus.
How did David react?
2 Sam. 6: 21—David said to Michal, "It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD'S people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. 22] I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor."He stated
- his calling
- his audience ("I will celebrate before the Lord.")
- his attitude
- "What is my calling and who is my audience?"
- "Am I being obedient to God?"
God responded, too.
v. 23—And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.We see no indication that David rejected Michal at this time, but God did judge her. (Remember, the presence of God brings a blessing or a judgment, depending on our obedience to Him.)
Principles LearnedWhat does all this say to us? What have we learned? Let's sum it up:
- Proper preparation—putting God at the center—precedes praise. Remember in the Chalk Revival we begin in our own prayer closet (see Isaiah 6). Inquire before you advance; i.e., ask God every time). Know who you are before God—a priest.
- Praise should not be adjusted to our dignity. Any time our dignity is the focus, we have missed the point of worship.
- Praise should be monitored by God's view of the heart, not man's view of the action, e.g., David.
- Praise and worship must be filtered and instructed by the Word of God. Without it we might do a good thing at the wrong time and/or in the wrong way.
- Praise that concentrates on exterior actions (how we look), and not on our heart, will always be at a distance from a true celebration of praise (e.g., Michal).
- Praise detractors will pay a price. There are no demands that everyone worship God in the same exterior fashion or at the same time, but we should be careful how we respond to others who might be experiencing a hallmark celebration. If they are following the guidelines we have mentioned so far (worship in humility, with the proper audience, and motivated by God's goodness and mercy), we should rejoice in their rejoicing
- The best praise is obedient praise.
The Principles Applied.Answer these questions:
- Are you willing to be a humble priest for God (1 Pet. 2:5-9)? What will that require?
- cleansing—I Pet. 2:1-4
- absence of pride
- adequate heart preparation.
- Are you willing to be an active priest for God through the physical expression of your heart (bowing, singing, raising your hands, etc.)?
- When do you offer to God your best praise? Why?
- How do you know what God's will is for your praise? God's will for the church's praise?
- How does being a priest help you?
- Should you offer praise when you don't feel like it? Explain your answer.
- What prepares you to praise God?
- What keeps you from your priestly duties?
- Can you think of modern examples of those like Michal?
- What praise activity bothers you the most?
Description of the ark
Its meaning.The Hebrew word for "ark" literally means, box or chest. The ark was the central piece of furniture in the tabernacle. Wherever it was located was the very spot in which God met His people.
Its description.The ark was at the very center of Israel's religious life; everything pointed to it. Its pattern was revealed to Moses at Sinai. A rectangular container made of acacia wood, it was covered with gold inside and outside. Its dimensions were 3-3/4 ft. long, 2-1/4 ft. wide, and 2-1/4 ft. high. Its cover was called the mercy seat and was a pure gold plate matching the dimensions of the chest. At each end was a cherub of hammered gold, with wings outstretched over the plate.
Within the ark were three objects: a gold jar holding manna, Aaron's rod, and the table of the covenant (Heb. 9:4). God had promised that He would meet with them above the mercy seat.
Its value. The value of this ark is hard for us to grasp this side of the cross, because we have no inanimate object today where God's special presence resides. There are no holy objects we can look at and get a feeling about, so we have to put ourselves in Israel's shoes and remember that when they looked upon the ark, they were viewing an image upon which the glory of God rested. This piece of furniture was holy.
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