The Journey of the Ark

David consulted with the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with every leader. And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and from the Lord our God, let us send abroad to our brothers who remain in all the lands of Israel, as well as to the priests and Levites in the cities that have pasturelands, that they may be gathered to us. 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. 1 Chronicles 13:1-4.

Before Saul was king, and even before Samuel was Israel’s judge, the ark was brought to the battle against the Philistines. It was a superstitious act because they were not faithful to God at that time. So, God stayed in the box, so to speak, and Israel lost the battle, the ark, and the high priest and his sons were killed in battle.

The Philistines captured the ark, and we’re soon sorry they did. After some serious smiting from the Lord, they put it on an unmanned cart and let the oxen carry it home. It was taken in by the border town of Kiriath-jearim. David thought it was time to bring it home.

This went well enough until a guy named Uzzah reached out to steady the ark during it’s journey. He died. You are not supposed to touch the ark. It is a holy thing. This is the reason there were rings fastened to the ark and poles through the rings for transport.

You can get too familiar with your God. He is holy. He consents to dwell in you, but your lack of reverence can still kill you. Yes, there is a new testament admonition about this.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 1 Corinthians 11:27-30.

The Consent of the Governed

All these, men of war, arrayed in battle order, came to Hebron with a whole heart to make David king over all Israel. Likewise, all the rest of Israel were of a single mind to make David king. And they were there with David for three days, eating and drinking, for their brothers had made preparation for them. And also their relatives, from as far as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, came bringing food on donkeys and on camels and on mules and on oxen, abundant provisions of flour, cakes of figs, clusters of raisins, and wine and oil, oxen and sheep, for there was joy in Israel. 1 Chronicles 12:38-40.

Whereas Saul had the power to tax to support his army, David’s army lived on the generosity of his fans. It must have infuriated Saul that his whole country was turning out for his young rival. Yet, David never lifted a hand against his king. And Saul continually tried to kill David.

The kingdom of God is like this: despised by the kingdom of men, while taking only evasive actions. It is supported willingly by it’s subjects, out of love, not coercion.

Everybody Loves a Winner

Now these are the chiefs of David’s mighty men, who gave him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel. This is an account of David’s mighty men: Jashobeam, a Hachmonite, was chief of the three. He wielded his spear against 300 whom he killed at one time.

And next to him among the three mighty men was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite. He was with David at Pas-dammim when the Philistines were gathered there for battle. There was a plot of ground full of barley, and the men fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and killed the Philistines. And the Lord saved them by a great victory.

Three of the thirty chief men went down to the rock to David at the cave of Adullam, when the army of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. And David said longingly, “Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!” Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and took it and brought it to David. But David would not drink it. He poured it out to the Lord and said, “Far be it from me before my God that I should do this. Shall I drink the lifeblood of these men? For at the risk of their lives they brought it.” Therefore he would not drink it. These things did the three mighty men. 1 Chronicles 11:10-19.

David was a bold, decisive leader. The warrior class was attracted to him for that reason, and they were all better together. He made his name when he killed Goliath, while the rest of the army was afraid. Some of those “mighty men” may have been among the fearful that day. But David changed all that, and the day of fearful anticipation turned into a rout against the Philistines.

Because of David, a lot of men made their names as winners alongside him. They were his mighty men, and they loved him. They would even undertake what might seem like a suicide mission to get David water from his hometown well. And when he sees it, he is horrified that his offhand remark could have cost them their lives. So, when he pours out the water on the ground, he is not rejecting their love for him. What he is saying is, “Guys, only God is worthy of what you have done.”

Medium Done

The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. And they stripped him and took his head and his armor, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to carry the good news to their idols and to the people. And they put his armor in the temple of their gods and fastened his head in the temple of Dagon. But when all Jabesh-gilead heard all that the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and took away the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh. And they buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh and fasted seven days.

So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse. 1 Chronicles 10:8-14.

God had chosen Saul to be king. But from early in Saul’s reign, he would second guess Samuel the prophet and do whatever he wanted to do. This is an important detail, because even when you are king, you are still under God’s authority.

David got this. He wanted God’s guidance. When he fell into sin, he desperately sought restoration. He was a flawed, but humble, man who worshiped God with his whole heart.

The Priority of Worship

So all Israel was recorded in genealogies, and these are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel. And Judah was taken into exile in Babylon because of their breach of faith. Now the first to dwell again in their possessions in their cities were Israel, the priests, the Levites, and the temple servants. And some of the people of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh lived in Jerusalem: Uthai the son of Ammihud, son of Omri, son of Imri, son of Bani, from the sons of Perez the son of Judah. And of the Shilonites: Asaiah the firstborn, and his sons. Of the sons of Zerah: Jeuel and their kinsmen, 690. Of the Benjaminites: Sallu the son of Meshullam, son of Hodaviah, son of Hassenuah, Ibneiah the son of Jeroham, Elah the son of Uzzi, son of Michri, and Meshullam the son of Shephatiah, son of Reuel, son of Ibnijah; and their kinsmen according to their generations, 956. All these were heads of fathers’ houses according to their fathers’ houses. 1 Chronicles 9:1-9.

The restoration of worship was a top priority when the people of God returned from exile. After all, they had been punished with captivity because they had worshiped other gods. There’s nothing like a second chance to sharpen one’s devotion.