GOD’S ANOINTED, Doing the right thing the wrong way!

2 SAMUEL 6:1—16

In this chapter, we learn a very valuable lesson. In the Kingdom of God, there is only one way to approach God:  God’s way.  Our motives may be pure and we may be the kindliest of saints, but if we dare approach God any way other than His prescribed way, if we presume to do God’s work in any manner other than God’s manner as taught in the Bible, we might as well be playing a game of Solitaire for all the good it will do.  In fact, as we will see, one man paid the supreme price for his ignorance of God’s will; his life was forfeit.  Doing the right thing in the wrong way is no way to serve God.

1.  A noble mission, 1 Chronicles 13:1—4

David conferred with each of his officers, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds.  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 people 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.  Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not inquire of it during the reign of Saul.”  The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people.

David, the warrior-king, wanted Jerusalem to be, not only the military and political capital of the nation of Israel, but the religious center as well.  In order for that to happen, the centerpiece of Judaism, the Ark of the Covenant, needed to be brought to Jerusalem.  The Ark, as you will recall, was the visible symbol of the presence of the invisible God, and a type of the Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh.  Because Israel used it in a wholly inappropriate manner, dragging it into battle in hopes that it’s presence would bring victory, God allowed the Ark to be captured by the Philistines, a story recounted in 1 Samuel 4.

Arrogance, presumption and sin will always separate you from God, as Israel learned the hard way that day.

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.  (Isaiah 59:2)

Once the Ark was gone from Israel, so was God’s presence.  David was determined to get it back, and he made a plan that paid lip service to God.  Notice what 1 Chronicles 13:2 says—

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

I say David’s plan paid “lip service to God” because, as we shall see, the plan had very little to do with God.  He was about to do the right thing in the wrong way, a decision he would very much regret.  In 2 Samuel 4 we discover the attitudes of various kinds of men toward the Ark.

2.  Those interested in form, verse 3

They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart.

Though not explained, there was a reason why the Ark was placed on a new cart.  First, new cart or old, this was not how the Ark was to be transported.  The Ark had staves but no wheels for a very good reason:  it was meant to be carried personally by the priests, not transported on a cart.  Numbers 7:9 describes the precise way to treat the objects dedicated to God—

But Moses did not give any to the Kohathites, because they were to carry on their shoulders the holy things, for which they were responsible.

This should have been known by David’s priest, Abiathar, but apparently either he forgot or was not consulted.  But why did David use a new cart?  Why not an old cart?   Where did he get that idea?  He certainly did not get it from inquiring of the Lord!  God’s rules were spelled out in the Law.  The only other time the Ark of God was transported on a new cart was when the Philistines moved it, according to 1 Samuel 6:7—8—

“Now then, get a new cart ready, with two cows that have calved and have never been yoked. Hitch the cows to the cart, but take their calves away and pen them up.  Take the ark of the LORD and put it on the cart, and in a chest beside it put the gold objects you are sending back to him as a guilt offering.”

Remember, David spent considerable time slumming with the Philistines when he was hiding from Saul.  That was probably where he learned the wrong way to move the Ark.  The application here is obvious.  When a believer spends too much time where they shouldn’t be, they will pick up bad habits and bad worldly habits have a way of being baptized into our Christian lives, sometimes with the best of intentions.  David motives were pure, but instead of doing the Lord’s work the Lord’s way, he tried to do it in a way that was first in his mind.

The Church of Jesus Christ cannot be treated in a purely mechanical, formal fashion, whereby its leaders baptize worldly ideas of leadership into it, hoping they will somehow work.  Singing songs in hopes of ginning up a sense of worship is a worldly idea designed to appeal to the flesh.  Engaging in all kinds of histrionics to manifest God’s presence is a worldly idea.  We may invent new contrivances and implement new ways of “doing church” and put our faith in them, but if the burden of the Lord does not find a place in our hearts, then our cause is hopeless and we are on a fool’s errand.  Better to stay home and cut our lawns and wash our cars than vainly attempt to drag God into our assemblies on a new cart.

3.  Those who have too much confidence, verses 6, 7

When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 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 Ark was picked up and the two sons of Abinadab, in whose home it rested, walked along side.  The procession started out in great joy and worship of God.  We can only imagine the spectacle that day.   The Ark was finally on its way to its permanent home in Jerusalem, David and all the people that were with him were singing and praising the Lord, accompanied by all kinds of musical instruments and all was now right with the world!

But that joy was short-lived.  The oxen stumbled along the way and the Ark tipped and Uzziah did the first thing that came to his mind:  put out his hand to steady it.  Who wouldn’t do that?  But the result of doing what appeared to be the right thing was sudden death, for human hands were never, ever to touch the Ark of God under any circumstances (Exodus 25:14—15; Numbers 4:15, 20; 7:9).

In Aesop’s fable of the Fox and Lion, we learn the valuable lesson that “familiarity breeds contempt,” and that was the lesson David and all Israel learned that day.  Poor Uzziah; the Ark of God had rested in his home for years.  We wonder how familiar his family had become with it.  Obviously it held no fear if he wasn’t afraid to touch it.

Many of us today have become that familiar with the holy things of God, and when we become that familiar, we often lose our reverence and appreciation for Him, or His Word or His Church.  And familiarity inevitably leads to contempt and presumption.

The Ark of God did not need Uzziah’s hands to steady it any more than God needed Moses’ help to part the Red Sea or Jesus needed Mary’s help to raise Lazarus.  Many Christians today are feebly trying to “do God a favor” by serving Him in a manner of their own invention.   Romans 10:3 should serve as a powerful warning to us—

Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

The result of Uzziah’s actions proved that he had not submitted himself to God’s righteousness.  He may have thought he was doing the right thing, but what he had in his mind did not reconcile with the mind of God.

4.  Those who are seeking, verse 9

David was afraid of the LORD that day and said, “How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?”

The Lord’s anger in verse 7 caused David to react first in anger in verse 8 then in fear in verse 9.  The Psalmist understood this well—

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.  (Psalm 111:10)

David may have started out indignant over the seeming harshness of God’s judgment, but that soon gave way to a proper fear or reverence.  David was most anxious to have the Ark back in Jerusalem, just as many people today are anxious to call themselves “Christians,” but the awesome holiness and power associated with the Ark and his own sense of unworthiness, made David fearful.

Today there is such an emphasis on the “love of God” that many preachers have painted God as a doting old man who will tolerate even our most perverse sins because He “loves us!”  Many “seekers” are attracted to that off-balance message because to their warped way of thinking God’s love means that they can have Him and their sin at the same time.  But that is not how it works, and David understood this, finally.  He realized that a “cooling off” period was necessary before he considered what to do with the Ark.  Psalm 111 teaches a mighty life lesson if we care to see it.  While wisdom begins with fear, it is the Word of God that leads to understanding.  Right now David is full of fear and that leads him to a measure of wisdom.  As he learns the precepts or the teachings of God, David will have understanding of God’s holiness.

4.  Those who humbly believe, verses 10, 11

He was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.  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.

So what to do with the Ark of God?  David is afraid and so is all Israel.  He decided to put the Ark in the home of Obed-Edom.  David was afraid that the Ark would harm him, but apparently he thought nothing of giving it to Obed-Edom for safe keeping.  Who was this man, Obed-Edom?  He is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 15:18—

Zechariah, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel, the gatekeepers.

He was one of many “gatekeepers.”  That was a very humble position; his only job was opening and closing a door.  And yet, he wasn’t afraid of the Ark!  In fact, he apparently received it with great joy because we are told that God blessed Obed-Edom’s entire family!  What a stark contrast:  David and all of Israel celebrate while they manhandle and mishandle the Ark of God, but little Obed-Edom the door keeper and his whole house is blessed because the Ark is placed under his protection.  Those who are humble and contrite have nothing to fear from either the Ark of God or the Son of God.  Some people are fearful of having Jesus Christ come into their hearts; not because of who He is, but of what He will demand of them.  Jesus Christ needs to be the Lord of our lives; He’s no gate keeper!   We can learn a great lesson from Obed-Edom; we may accept Christ in faith, humbly acknowledging our unworthiness and hoping at most just to be safe in His presence.  But with Christ, as with the Ark, when Christ comes in to a dedicated heart, blessings are sure to follow!

5.  Those who have learned their lesson, verse 13

When those who were carrying the ark of the LORD had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf.

Eventually David learned about the blessings that had fallen on the house of Obed-Edom because of the presence of the Ark.  Believing it was now safe to bring the Ark up the rest of the way, David proceeds with that plan.  But, this time his plan is different because he learned his lesson.  He did not invent another “new cart” with elaborate decorations and all kinds of pomp and ceremony to move the Ark; neither did he pay others to do the work.  He went personally with the proper men for the task to be in the proper way.  The Ark was born by men who were separated for just such a task.

The work of the Lord is to be done only by those who have been sanctified or set apart.  God was not pleased when oxen moved the Ark and He is not pleased when those who don’t know Him try to do His work.

If we look at verses 14 and 15, we can sense the great joy and probably relief as the Ark entered the city without incident.  Things always work out when they are done in accordance to God’s will.

Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

When God is worshipped and served in HIS way, extravagant joy follows.  The reason is simple:  when we approach God on His terms our worship will be based on Him and who He is and therefore our joy will be pure because God is pure.  We can’t manufacture that by singing songs or banging our tambourines.

But there is another powerful application here; the Ark of God was as powerful in Obed-Edom’s house as it was in public.  It blessed a family in private and moved a nation to worship in public.  Shame on members of the Body of Christ who keep Him all to themselves; Jesus is Lord of our all our lives, not just on Sunday, and He deserves to be seen in our lives all the time.

6.  Those on the outside looking in, verse 16

As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.

The exuberant worship that followed the Ark into town must have been something to behold!  But not everybody got into the spirit of the proceedings.  Michal, daughter of Saul and now wife of David was not at all impressed with spectacle of David’s worship.  She is the perfect picture of one on the outside looking in, criticizing the Church of Jesus Christ.  The things of the Spirit of God seem like foolishness to the worldly person—

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.  (1 Corinthians 2:14)

This sounds a lot like what happened on the Day of Pentecost, doesn’t it?  When the Spirit fell and the believers began to worship God on the streets of Jerusalem and speak in other tongues, some onlookers thought they were drunk!

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”  (Acts 2:13)

Of course, we expect that kind of criticism from the world, but sadly many people who are supposedly part of the Church say things like that about their fellow members.  Any fool can be a fault-finder.  Michal was a spectator, not a participant.  Most criticism of the Church comes from those who just look in once in a while without ever joining in and taking part.

Those who stare at the Church or at other Christians from behind their windows and make judgments are as foolish as Michal.  It is better to be a “fool for Jesus Christ,” though, than just a fool.  Those who just look on see no beauty in Christ, or in our worship of Him, or in what a consecrated life looks like.  Michal did not like to see anybody who was in love with God and there are people just like her today.  Some of them even call themselves Christians!


So, what kind of person are you?  Are you:

  • The person who wants to do something for God, talks about doing it according to God’s will, but then ends up doing it your own way?
  • The person who is only interested in what the form of worship looks like instead of being moved only by the Spirit of God?
  • The over-confident person who thinks you can approach God in your own way with no regard to His Word or will?
  • The person who is mildly interested in the things of God but the closer you get to Him the less you really want Him?
  • The person who is genuinely humble and willing to serve God in a lowly position; who is thrilled just to have the presence of God in your home?
  • The person who learned their lesson and is now living and serving God His way?
  • Like Michal, who had no regard for the things of God because she was on the outside looking in?

Be part of the God’s family.  Serve Him with all your heart and mind and you will be graced with God’s presence all the days of your life.


(c)  2009 WitzEnd

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