13 Then David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. 2 And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is of the Lord our God, let us send out to our brethren everywhere who are left in all the land of Israel, and with them to the priests and Levites who are in their cities and their common-lands, that they may gather together to us; 3 and let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we have not inquired at it since the days of Saul.” 4 Then all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.
King David was a charismatic leader, even at the beginning when the women sang of his deeds as a warrior fighting in King Saul’s army, triggering his jealousy and years of chasing to rival anything on The Fugitive (I’m carbon dating myself, but you get it if you know the show…) As a result, the people generally granted him leeway even when he wasn’t entirely in line with G-d’s will.
This was one of those times; his intentions were good, but reading the verse, he consulted with everyone except the One who inhabited the Ark according to prescribed rituals. What was right in the eyes of the people was, in part, aligning themselves with David’s impulsive desire, and none of his men checked him, because he was so well liked and respected by them. (Nathan the prophet wasn’t there…)
Although G-d allowed them to move it, it was because they didn’t consult him that the ark was not properly secured, so that when the oxen stumbled, Uzza felt compelled to put out a steadying hand, and, not being consecrated, or a priest, or a Levite, in his unclean state he touched a holy thing where the presence of G-d would come, and paid with his life.
His intentions to steady the Ark so that it wouldn’t touch the ground were honorable, but the act of touching it, even casually, was not lawful.
G-d was exacting in his requirements for the Ark of the Covenant, and there was no room for interpretation or compromise in them.
Because of Uzza’s death, we read in verse 12:
David was afraid of G-d that day, saying, “How can I bring the ark of G-d to me?”
David was therefore afraid to move the ark further, thereby blessing the house of Obed-Edom.
*Psalm 111: 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.*
Which brings us to the Lord’s commands:
Chapter 15: 11-15
11 And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. 12 He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. 13 For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.”
14 So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. 15 And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.
Adhering to the law, we see steps taken that weren’t in Chapter 13:
- Only the Levites can carry the ark
- David pitched a separate tent for it
- Then he called the people together
- He admonished the priests to sanctify themselves and their people
He blamed the people in part for it: “…you did not do it the first time…” but as the King, it the fault for it ultimately fell on his shoulders.
Though we are under the covenant of grace, our Savior makes it clear to Israel (and to the grafted in Gentile branches) that He was not here to replace or dispense with the Law; it follows that the Living Word cannot supercede the written Word, which G-d says He places higher than His Name.
Jesus admonished the Pharisees when they claimed the Law of Moses as their righteousness that by professing to follow Moses they were, in fact, condemning themselves. In John’s Gospel we read:
41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
We have the proverb: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” While it may not be that extreme, we see that even under the New Covenant, there are proper ways to boldly approach the throne of grace; not as arrogant people, but as supplicant children, allowed a degree of respectful familiarity seasoned with reverence.
For example, a child has access to their parents, and may sit on their knee and make their requests known, but still say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you.’ That’s different from storming into their room, pointing a finger, and demanding all their needs be met.
So it is with our Father in Heaven, therefore let us revere Him as He has told us, in spirit and truth, with all our heart, soul, mind and body.
Therefore I pray:
Father in Heaven
I thank You that the veil was torn so that under the righteousness of the sinless Blood of the Lamb, I can be in Your presence without fearing to die.
But let me always be cognizant of the awesome majesty I approach, for You are the Creator of all things, and while this life’s vapor is slowly dissipating before it returns, I don’t want to take it for granted, or treat it with irreverence.
Let me always be faithful and obedient to all You have commanded in matters of worship, that Your presence may be manifest in me wherever I am. Keep me mindful through the conviction of the Holy Spirit to never let my good intentions usurp the place of Your decrees, statutes, and commandments, just as man can’t usurp Your sovereignty.
In the Name of my holy Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, I ask it, believing I have already received.