|THE SENSITIVE HEART
2 SAMUEL 6:1-23
Series: David: Heart Matters - Part Six
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
February 6, 2011
Last Sunday when we last left David - David was the head of a band of Merry Men - a band of mercenaries - about 600 men plus women and children. He was on the run from Saul - a game of cat and mouse - David hiding out from Saul - who was certifiably nuts - Saul chasing David around trying to kill David.
Nabal - which means what? Fool. Nabal had acted foolishly and God had killed him. David married Abigail. All of which - if you we with us last Sunday - all of which should sound familiar. Yes?
Today we are going to jump ahead in David’s life - to 2 Samuel - chapter 6. During that jump forward there are number of changes that have taken place in David’s life.
David’s wife Michal - remember her? Daughter of Saul - who betrayed David - her husband - betrayed him to save her own skin - because Michal is all about… Michal. Michal has been restored to David as his wife. A reunion that is not the wedded bliss of a happily ever after honeymoon.
And, Saul is dead. God has placed David is on the throne in Jerusalem. David has the respect of the people. Life is good.
The Apostle Paul - in Acts 13 - describes what has taking place. Paul says, “After He - God - had removed him - Saul - He - God - raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.” (Acts 13:22)
Paul points to a contrast - David’s heart contrasted with Saul’s heart.
Saul had his good points - when he wasn’t chasing David around trying to kill him. Saul was a pretty good king - helped to consolidate the kingdom. For the most part kept the Philistines at bay. But he wasn’t a man after God’s own heart.
God could have said, “David was a great warrior. A good king. A man of great passion. Wealthy. A good shepherd.” Descriptions that by most people’s reckoning say “success.” But God’s epitaph is about what’s important to God. God says that David’s heart was in sync with God’s.
God removed Saul and raised up David.
Jesus said that, “You can’t serve two masters. Either your going to love one or the other one. Your heart can’t be devoted to both.” (Matthew 6:24) Sound familiar? Either we’re devoted to God or we’re devoted to ourselves.
Saul was all about… Saul. So whatever respect or honor Saul showed God - whenever Saul obeyed God - all that was always secondary to the respect and honor that Saul showed Saul.
Saul obeyed God because he had to. Saul obeyed God because he gained stature before the people or because he wanted God to bless him. Just do what you need to do to keep God happy - look good before the people - do the kingly religious leader thing. Just do enough to get by spiritually.
What we see is mediocrity in Saul’s relationship with God. Nothing stands out. Everything is a half-hearted compromise. Saul never becomes the Godly leader that he could have been. Never really lives to his potential or fulfills his purpose in life. Saul becomes a sad footnote in the history of David.
Today there’s going to be some emphasis on watching the Packers destroy Pittsburg. Mostly people are interested in what? the commercials. I’d like to show you a commercial that you won’t see during the Super Bowl. That’s probably a good thing.
(video: Mediocrity 2011)
are people like Saul in every church.
They’re doing what they have to do - what they
feel God wants from them to do - doing the Christian
thing - talking the talk - walking the walk - doing
the bare minimum. They
may be very sincere. But
they’re not obeying God because they desire to but
because they feel they have to.
Their relationship with God is a part of their lives. They’re trying to live by giving part of their hearts to God while they’re trying to hang on - trying to keep control of their lives for themselves.
The result is a kind of watered down - Luke-warm - soggy milk toasty - we’re going through the motions - but we’ve lost the significance because this really has no impact on our lives - obligatory Christianity - that falls so far short of the life that God offers us in Jesus. That is no where near the life and great purposes that God has created us for.
In reality - who wants to drive a Mediocrity? Or live a mediocre life? But way to many of us settle for mediocrity when God offers us so much more.
Saul obeyed God because he had to. David obeyed God because He desired to. God says that David was a man after His own heart.
Which is what we’ve been looking at. What does it mean to be a man after God’s own heart? How can we be men and women after God’s own heart?
Please join me at 2 Samuel 6 - starting at verse 1: Now David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him to Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God which is called by the Name, the very name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim.
Saul is dead. But the effects of Saul being king are still felt in the kingdom. The tabernacle - which was suppose to be the central place of worship for God’s people - remember the Temple hadn’t been built yet - under Saul worship at the tabernacle had been neglected. Its importance had been lost.
The ark of God which was suppose to be in the tabernacle - for what could have been as many as 60 years - the ark has been either used as a talisman in battle or neglected. Its last place of storage was this place - Baale-judah or Kiriath-jearim - a town about 5 to 10 miles west of Jerusalem. For the 40 plus years of Saul’s reign the ark of God has pretty much been warehoused. Hard to imagine anyone doing that. Someone treating God’s ark with that kind of indifference.
If God doesn’t have the central place in Saul’s heart why should God’s stuff.
David - on the other hand - chooses 30,000 men to go up to Baale-judah to the get the Ark of God.
Putting a section heading on verses 1 to 11 - verses 1 to 11 are How David Brought the Ark to Jerusalem - Part I: David’s Way. Can we say this together? “David’s Way.”
Notice verse 2 - the ark of God which is called by the Name - the very name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim.
Names to the Hebrews are huge. Names represent who we are. Our character. Our reputation. Our linage. Good names are to be cherished - guarded.
David understood this. “The ark of God which is called by the name.” The ark represented the presence of the Lord - God - Yahweh - with His people.
How many of you have seen pictures showing what we think the ark looked like? Kind of like this.
The ark was basically a box or chest. God gave the design instructions to Moses to make this box out of wood - rectangular in shape - gold plated inside and out.
Inside the chest are three objects. Which were what? A golden jar containing manna from the wilderness - Aaron’s rod that had budded - the tablets of the covenant - the Ten Commandments. Symbols of God’s preservation and direction and covenant with His people. The emphasis being God’s relationship with His people.
The cover - which is also made out of gold - the cover is called The Mercy Seat. On either side of the cover - the mercy seat - are golden cherubim - or angels - same word different language - cherubim - angels - facing each other with wings outstretched toward each other over the mercy seat.
God had promised to meet His people at the mercy seat.
According to God’s instructions - once a year - on the Day of Atonement - the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies - the innermost room of the tabernacle where God’s ark was suppose to be. The High Priest would sprinkle the blood of a sacrificed bull and a sacrificed goat - sprinkle their blood on the mercy seat - this place of God meeting with His people. That blood symbolized the temporary covering of sin - that the guilt of sin was temporarily removed from God’s people.
All of which was a foreshadowing of the Messiah’s blood shed for us - God in His mercy covering our sin with His own blood so that our sins would be covered - once for all time - our relationship with God restored through the blood of Jesus Christ.
This is one holy piece of furniture because God makes it to be holy. It is set apart by God for God’s purposes to be used God’s way. Grab that: The ark is holy because of God. Because of Who? God. Otherwise its just a wood box with a lot of gold on it.
Saul doesn’t get this because Saul is focused on Saul. To Saul its religious furniture - something attached to the ritual of religion - to be used for Saul’s purposes. That’s why its been warehoused for 40 years.
To David it is the ark of God - the Name - Yahweh - the Lord of hosts - the living God of the covenant enthroned above the cherubim. It is the desire of David’s heart that God’s ark not be warehoused but respected - honored - because God is worthy of respect and honor - the total devotion of our heart.
David chooses 30,000 men to go up to Baale-judah to the get the ark of God.
Verse 3: They placed the ark of God on a new cart that they might bring it from the house of Abinadab which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were leading the new cart. So they brought it with the ark of God from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Ahio was walking ahead of the ark. Meanwhile, David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord with all kinds of instruments made of fir wood, and with lyres, harps, tambrourines, castanets and cymbals.
David is the king with a plan. Best way to get the ark down the hill from Abinadab’s house up in Baale-judah - most expedient way - is on a cart. Not just any cart. But a new cart. After all this is God’s ark.
and Ahio - Abinadab’s son are leading the cart. 30,000 chosen men - and it
seems even Jerusalem has turned out.
There’s music and huge celebration going on. Its like Macy’s Thanksgiving
Day Parade and the Rose Parade all in one. David bringing God’s ark
into Jerusalem in style. Bringing
the ark home to where it belongs.
Verse 6: But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon - which means like right outside Jerusalem - but when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. And the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God.
Does that sound a tad harsh? The cart rocks - leans - the ark - God’s holy piece of furniture - is about to fall off and break in to only God’s knows how many pieces. Uzzah reaches out to steady the ark.
That’s it. Does what any one of us would have naturally done. God get’s really ticked and kills Uzzah on the spot.
Verse 8: David became angry because of the Lord’s outburst against Uzzah, and that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. Which literally means “outburst against Uzzah.”
Just as they’re getting to Jerusalem - with this whole celebration thing going full force - when things couldn’t get any better - suddenly David is standing next to a corpse. David is ticked at God.
Which makes perfect sense. Doesn’t it? Uzzah’s trying to save the ark. Why should God take out Uzzah? How many people do you know who are ticked at God because God didn’t do things the way they thought God should do them?
Verse 9: So David was afraid of the Lord that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me? And David was unwilling to move the ark of the Lord into the city of David with him; but David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. Thus the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all this household.
David’s anger turns to fear. The wheels are turning. Despite what some people think - God doesn’t smite people capriciously. Something is wrong here.
David calls a time out. For three months the ark remains at the house of Obed-edom.
Can you imagine this? Having the ark of God sitting in your family room? After a couple months one wonders if that might get old. The constant stream of pilgrims wandering through the house. But what an honor. What a blessing.
Who was suppose to carry God’s ark? The Levites. God instructed Moses to put ringlets on the ark. The Levites were suppose to take these long poles and slide them through the ringlets and then the priests would take these poles and put them on their shoulders and walk balancing the ark between them. Does that sound familiar?
But David did things David’s way. Got a cart. Put Uzzah and Ahio with the cart to steady the ark. Put together a procession - a celebration. The main thing is to get the ark to Jerusalem in the most expedient way possible. What difference does it make how?
Well, apparently it makes a difference to God. And Uzzah got dead to prove it. God doesn’t want any old thing done our way. He desires obedience coming out of the heart.
Nadab and Abihu - sons of Aaron - offer incense before the Lord - an offering that God had not commanded. God sends fire and the fire consumes Nadab and Abihu. (Leviticus 10:1,2)
Achan ignores God’s command - keeps some of the spoils of war for himself. As a result the men of Ai kill 36 Hebrews - Achan - his sons - his daughters - his oxen, donkey and sheep - they’re stoned - burned with fire - they end up on the underside of a heap of stones. (Joshua 7)
Ananias and Sapphira sold their property - held on to some of the profit - lied to the apostles - to God - about the price - and God struck them dead (Acts 5:1-11).
Coming close to doing God’s will is not enough even though we might have the best of motives. Giving only what we’re comfortable giving - part of our lives - is mediocre - half-heartedly going through the motions - a religion of expediency. What difference does it make?
Apparently - to God - Who’s ark this is - Who commands obedience - Who desires for us to live with Him at the heart level - apparently to God it makes a crucial difference. What we do is important. How we do what we do is important.
God’s written a whole lot of instructions for us in His Bible. If He didn’t care about all that He wouldn’t have written it down. If God’ didn’t expect us to follow the instructions He wouldn’t have given them to us in the first place. We can’t treat that lightly.
When in doubt read the instructions? How many of you have ever tried to put something together and then realized you could have saved yourself a ton of headache if you’d have just followed the instructions from the beginning?
How many of us do that with God. We’re doing life - even our relationship with God - our way. When we get in trouble suddenly we’re interested in what God thinks about things - at least until we get out of trouble.
reading and studying the Bible should be a no-brainer
for a follower of Jesus. It
is pathetically sad how few Christians actually read
the instructions. They
read happy time books about the Bible - listen to
sermons and sound bites on the radio - learn theology
by listening to pop Christian music.
Do we really expect that God is going to be
pleased with our efforts if we’re just doing things
our way - or what we imagine is what God wants?
God cares about little ringlets and who touches His ark. And a some point here David gets it. Responds in fear - respect for God. There’s a sensitivity that transforms David’s heart. “God cares about how this is done and I blew it.” David begins to care about what God cares about.
That’s the point. When we begin to care about the things God cares about, we become people after God’s own heart. Let’s repeat that together: “When we begin to care about the things God cares about, we become people after God’s own heart.”
David says, “Leave the ark there.” Three months go by while David is processing God’s heart.
Verse 12: Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, on account of the ark of God.” David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness.
As much as verses 1 to 11 are How David Brought God’s Ark to Jerusalem - Part I - David’s way - verses 12 to 23 are How David Brought God’s Ark to Jerusalem - Part II: God’s way. Can we say this together? “God’s Way.” There is a huge change of heart here.
Keep a finger in 2 Samuel 6 and turn with me to 1 Chronicles 15. Where verse 12 says, “David went and brought up the ark” - 1 Chronicles 15 is the expanded version of what that means. 1 Chronicles 15 fills in details here that are important for us to see.
Verse 2: Then David said, “No one is to carry the ark of God but the Levites; for the Lord chose them to carry the ark of God and to minister to Him forever.” And David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it. And David gathered together the sons of Aaron and the Levites - long list of names and numbers of people - jump down to verse 11 - then David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priest, and for the Levites - are we together? Levites and priest - we’re following God’s instructions now.
Verse 12: And he said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ households of the Levites; consecrate yourselves both you and your relatives - get yourselves spiritually ready - that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place that I have prepared for it. Because you did not carry it at the first, the Lord our God made an outburst on us, for we did not seek Him according to the ordinance.”
Lesson learned. The first time we didn’t do it God’s way - the way God cared about. We just sort of did it the way we thought we should do it. That’s why Uzzah got dead. Moving the Ark to Jerusalem - Part II - this time we’re doing it God’s way. David used the three months to the ark was at Obed-edom’s to study and learn how to do this right.
Back to 2 Samuel 6 - verse 13: And so it was, when the bearers of the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he - David - sacrificed an ox and a fatling.
Can you imagine this. The Levites - the priests - carrying the ark. One, two, three, four, five, six. STOP. Build an altar. Stack the wood. Light the fire. Sacrifice an ox and a fattened calf. Six more paces. STOP. Build an altar. Stack the wood. Light the fire. Make the sacrifice. This is like a download using dial-up. The time this takes. Then think about the logistics - David had three months to set this up. Think about the logistics - the supply line of priests and men to make all this happen.
It would have been a whole easier to get a cart.
But that’s how we think. We don’t have time to get poles. Good old American know how. There has to be a better way. All that God stuff - those fine details - just get in the way of how we’re investing our time - what we’re spending our money on - what we put our energy into.
If God cared enough to write it down then He obviously cares about having us do it… His way.
That’s what David did. He did it God’s way.
Verse 14: And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouting and the sound of the trumpet.
Hold onto that image. The ephod was a priestly garment. A whole lot more humble than the regal attire of a king. David - doing things God’s way - in humility - ecstatic - with everything that he is - dancing joyfully before God. There’s a huge freedom in that. Isn’t there? There’s no, “What will people think if I clap or raise my hands?” “What if I’m not dressed the right way?”
Verse 16: Then it happened as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.
Notice - first, where’s Michal? Inside. Not with the procession. Why get worked up over a piece of religious furniture.
Second - who’s daughter is she? The daughter of Saul. That comparison - here in verse 16 - is intentional. The point is that she’s got the same attitude as her father. Michal is about… Michal.
Michal despised David - thought he was despicable - worthless - vile - literally, she thought he was repugnant. She despises David in her heart - the core of who she is. Her heart attitude is not with David or God.
A celebration with food. Sound familiar? The food is symbolic of the God’s presence and blessing. Certainly something to celebrate.
Verse 20: But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!”
Imagine - David - high fives all around - coming home - rejoicing before God - floating up the stairs - one of the greatest moments of his life. Opens the door and just gets blasted by Michal.
Michal’s despising heart comes out. “David, you have acted like a jerk. Embarrassed yourself in front of the people. Embarrassed me in front of the people.” Remember Michal is about Michal. Ultimately she’s concerned about Michal’s reputation not David’s.
Verse 21: So David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel; therefore I will celebrate before the Lord. I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished.” Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.
Some of us were at the Marriage Communication Seminar yesterday. This is not a model of good marital communication. David’s words are dripping with sarcasm. Admittedly he could have put this with more tact. But he is so right on. God removed your father. God anointed me. God made me king. This whole celebration is about God - one huge God moment. If humility is what it takes to celebrate God then I will debase myself 24/7/365.
We don’t know why it says that Michal never had kids. Maybe David never again was intimate with Michal. Its possible that God closed her womb - a huge stigma for Jewish woman to endure. Maybe God’s judgment on her for her chosen insensitivity to God.
There is one truth coming out of all this that we should think about before we head out of here and gorge ourselves on junk food. And that is this:
When our hearts become truly sensitive to God’s heart - meaning when we truly care from the core of who we are about what God cares about - when our hearts become truly sensitive to God’s heart - then and only then do we begin to have real freedom and happiness.
Jesus talked about taking up our crosses and following Him as the only way to be His disciple. A cross is an instrument of death. Jesus talked about giving up our lives in order to really experience life - to find out what life is really all about. Dying to self. (Matthew 16:23-25)
We say we believe that - and we do believe that - but we don’t live it - not really. We hold back. Maybe we’re afraid. What will it mean to live that way? What will be the cost? What will I have to give up?
We’re afraid to go there because ultimately our lives are about us - living our lives our way. We struggle to let go of what we think we have control over. We like our comfort and our stuff. Giving everything to God threatens that.
So we go on living mediocre lives - in bondage and fear - when God has so much He desires to bless us with - so much purpose - so much life.
Obedience - doing life God’s way - frees us. We never truly be free - never really know peace - real security - real strength - abundance - unless we’re willing - from the heart - to obey God - to do life God’s way.
As a general reference for this sermon/series I have been using the book by Charles Swindoll, David: A Man of Passion and Destiny - I highly recommend this book as a tremendous study on the life of David.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.