1 Chronicles 13:5-14 (ESV)
So David assembled all Israel from the Nile of Egypt to Lebo-hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim. And David and all Israel went up to Baalah, that is, to Kiriath-jearim that belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD who sits enthroned above the cherubim. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart, from the house of Abinadab, and Uzzah and Ahio were driving the cart. And David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.
And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to take hold of the ark, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God. And David was angry because the LORD had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzza to this day. And David was afraid of God that day, and he said, “How can I bring the ark of God home to me?” So David did not take the ark home into the city of David, but took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of God remained with the household of Obed-edom in his house three months. And the LORD blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that he had.
(This is part 4 of our multipart study on Success in the Bible)
When David had ascended to be King of Israel, and moved into Jerusalem as his ‘capital’, he determined to bring the Ark of God to the City.
The Ark was the most Holy symbol in the nation of Israel – it contained the staff of Moses that had budded, the original copy of the 10 commandments and a gold jar of manna. It was a symbol to Israel of who God was, and what He had done for them. It was in essence a visible representation of God on this earth, and when the temple was completed, the Ark was in the holiest place.
It could easily be said that bringing the Ark to Jerusalem was the right thing to do – it was still sitting in ‘limbo’ after it had been captured by the Philistines and returned on a cart. The Ark was always kept with the King, and before that, in the tabernacle of God, all the way back to Moses. Not only David, but all the people of Israel agreed it was the right thing to do. Interestingly, it is specifically noted that Saul (who had shown he liked to do things his own way), did not seek to bring the Ark to its rightful place.
1 Chronicles 13:3-4 (ESV)
Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.” All the assembly agreed to do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.
So what was wrong then? The people, with a good heart and clear conscience decided to do the right thing, gathered, and bring the ark to themselves. But they failed. To find out why, let’s see what happened when they finally succeeded….
1 Chronicles 15:11-15 (ESV)
Then David summoned the priests Zadok and Abiathar, and the Levites Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab, and said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ 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 rule.” So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel. And the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD.
Why did they fail the first time? Because there was a specific way the Ark was meant to be treated. There was a specific procedure. In their first attempt, whilst they had the zeal to bring the Ark, they took no regard for how it was to be taken. They decided to do things their own way – and ironically, they did it the same way the Philistines had dealt with the Ark, rather than how God had specified they move it.
So when they finally did it the right way, they were successful.
What does this mean for me?
There is often a right and wrong way to do things. I am sure you can think of things in your life you could do and fix right now – but you would have to cut corners. You would have to not do things the right way, but your own.
Let me share from my own life right now. I have a small amount of credit card debt – it’s not massive, but I wish it wasn’t there none the less. In fact, I could have paid it off easily last year, with change, had I reduced my giving to God. But I believe I am called to tithe – to give out of the first fruits of what I earn to God, as recognition that He is in control, and He is the one to provide. Maybe some would argue the debt is bad and I should deal with it – but I would also argue that it is right I do it the right way, by continuing to honor God first, and deal with my own self-created problems second… I know God will ensure that it gets dealt with, properly, in his time. I will be successful – but I need to do it right.
So. If you want God to be on your side, you need to first do it right. How can you apply this to your life?