For the Love of God, Volume 1/November 20
From Gospel Translations
1 Chronicles 15; James 2; Amos 9; Luke 4
IN 1 CHRONICLES 15 WE FIND ELEMENTS of David’s reasoning not found in the parallel passage in 2 Samuel 6.
After capturing Jerusalem, David eventually determined to bring the ark of the covenant up to the new capital city. On the way, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark as the cart on which it was riding jolted its way along the rutted roads—and he was instantly slain. David was both angry with God and afraid of him (1 Chron. 13:11-12), and abandoned his mission. The ark was parked in the home of Obed-Edom the Gittite. During the three months of the ark’s temporary residence there, the household of Obed-Edom was so abundantly blessed that everyone took notice. So in due course David made another attempt to transport the ark to Jerusalem.
This much could have been gleaned from either 2 Samuel or 1 Chronicles. What 1 Chronicles 15:1-24 adds is something of David’s reasoning and arrangements. I shall focus on one point.
Apparently cooling down after the shocking loss of Uzzah, David returns to the Scriptures. True, Uzzah should not have touched the ark. But were David and his people transgressing any other legal prescriptions in the way they were handling it? David’s Bible reading reminds him that only Levites are permitted to transport it, and how they are to do it. So he tells the Levites to prepare themselves for the task, and explains his reasoning: “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” (15:13). In other words, David concludes that God’s wrath in the matter of Uzzah’s thoughtlessness was the outcropping of God’s deeper displeasure. Transporting the ark was not to be a willy-nilly matter. God expected to be obeyed, and the symbol of his presence was to be handled in line with the covenantal stipulations.
So that is what the Levites did: “The Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded, in accordance with the word of the LORD”(15:15).
Here is a profound lesson. At one level, doubtless God approves childlike praise and enthusiastic zeal. But he expects those with authority among his people to know what his Word says and obey it. No amount of enthusiasm and zeal can ever hope to make up for this lack. Zeal that is heading in the wrong direction never reaches the goal. It must either be redirected in the direction staked out in God’s Word, or however enthusiastic, it is still wrong-headed and misdirected. There is no substitute for faith working itself out in informed obedience.