|WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS...
2 SAMUEL 6:1-19
Series: Kingdom & Exile - Part Four
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
September 3, 2017
How would you complete the sentence? “When all else fails…”
“...read the instructions.”
(photo) Epic failure otherwise. Anyone ever been here?
(cartoon) “Greetings from the planet IKEA. We come in pieces.”
(cartoon) “Shouldn’t we read the instructions?” “Do I look like a sissy?”
We are at 2 Samuel 6 and the importance of reading - and following - God’s instructions.
We’re following God at work through history. God at work in and through the lives of people - relentlessly working to restore our relationship with Him that’s been broken by sin. All of what points to Jesus’ work on the cross.
We’ve come to the part of history where God initiates the Kingdom in Israel and the family line of David that leads to Jesus. We are looking at David as an example to us of what it means to live life with the living God - living in God’s kingdom. In a very real sense - to follow God’s instructions. What does that look like in the real time of our lives?
Let’s pause and catch up to where we’ve come to.
In Acts 13 - the Apostle Paul writes: “And when He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, of whom He testified and said, “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.” (Acts 13:22)
Last Sunday we looked at David killing Goliath - and a lot of Philistines getting dead - and David giving glory to God for the victory. Because David - who’s a man after God’s own heart - David’s heart being in sync with God’s heart - David knows that life is about God. The battle and the victories - its all about God. To God alone be the glory.
What’s happened since Goliath: Jonathan - Saul’s son - Jonathan has been killed in battle with the Philistines. Saul has committed suicide. God has placed David on the throne of the kingdom in Jerusalem.
David has the respect of the people. Times are good. In 2 Samuel 5 - just before where we are today - David has just won yet another decisive victory over the Philistines.
So David - in typical his heart is in sync with God fashion - David rather than throwing a victory parade and celebration for himself - David decides to do what honors God. Life is about God. The battle and the victories - it’s all about God. To God alone be the glory.
Which wasn’t Saul. Which was why God removed him.
Let’s think for a moment. When Saul wasn’t being psycho Saul and chasing David around trying to kill David - Saul - as king - Saul had his good points.
God used Saul to consolidate the kingdom. For the most part he kept the Philistines - the Amalekites - the Ammonites - Edomites - Saul kept Israel’s enemies at bay.
But with all that Saul wasn’t a man after God’s own heart. Because Saul was about… Saul. Not God.
So when Saul would offer sacrifices and lead the people in worship - whenever Saul would show respect and honor towards God - even whenever Saul obeyed God - followed the instructions - all that always had a secondary place in Saul’s heart. 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. Saul doing only what he needed to do to keep God happy - to look good before the people - doing the kingly religious leader thing. Just do enough to get by spiritually.
So now Saul is dead - removed by God. But even though David is now the king - installed by God - the spiritual residue of Saul being king is still being felt. During the reign of Saul - with Saul’s Saul focused honoring of God - the Ark of God has been used either as talisman in battle or just neglected. Warehoused. (photo)
Not that anyone would ever do that… Just saying.
So - coming back to 2 Samuel 6 - the first part of what we’re looking at here is How David moved the Ark to Jerusalem - Part I: Which is... David’s Way.
David who’s won yet another great victory over the Philistines - looking for a way to honor God - to get people’s hearts and minds back on God - David gets the idea to bring the ark into Jerusalem - with a God focused procession - chooses 30,000 men to go up to Baale-judah to bring the ark to the tent that David has set up as the place to worship God in Jerusalem - capital of the kingdom. Great idea. God’s at the center. Its all good.
A quick look at the map. Baale-judah - or as its also known by the equally difficult to pronounce Kiriath-jearim - is a town about 5 to 10 miles up in the hills west of Jerusalem.
Which look - looking at the picture - is what this like this today. Nice area.
Verse 2 tells us that the ark of God ...is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who sits enthroned on 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 of the Lord of hosts...” The ark represented the presence of the Lord - God - Yahweh - Adonai - with His people.
(photo) The Ark probably looked something 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 - and 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.
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.
God at work in and through the lives of people - relentlessly working to restore our relationship with Him that’s been broken by sin. All of what points to Jesus’ work on the cross.
Let’s be careful. This one holy piece of furniture isn’t holy because of what its made out of. Or how its constructed - because of how well God’s people following the assembly instructions. Or because of how God’s people use it to worship God.
This one holy piece of furniture is holy because of God. God makes it to be holy. Otherwise it’s a really neat looking wooden box with a lot of gold on it.
Chavez Ravine - down in LA - Dodger Stadium. On any given day its just a stadium. Interesting architecture - maybe. But a building. Deserted. Quiet. Surrounded by a lot of empty parking spaces. But in October - 7th game of the world series - bottom of the ninth - Dodgers down by one run to the Red Sox - 2 outs - 1 man on - batter up - full count... Dodger Stadium becomes a very different place.
Because of the nature of the event - the historic moment - all that becomes very intense - awesome - even larger than life.
God - the God Who calls all of this into being out of nothing - calls us into being. God who holds all this together simply because He choose to do so. God Who is Holy. God the King and sovereign potentate of His creation. God is the central focus in worship - not us. We gather to worship the God Who calls us together to worship Him. Whatever we do here is because of and is to be about honoring and glorifying Him.
Sometimes - with our warehouse style buildings - and our self-focused over-committed lifestyles - we loose touch with the awesome presence of God and us. That it is God Who calls and enables and gathers us to worship Him.
It’s the difference between walking into an empty building - or stadium - and coming into a sanctuary - understanding the awesomeness of the moment - coming alive in the reality of God’s presence.
David - heart in sync with God’s - David gets it. “The ark of God which is called by the name.” The ark represented the presence of the Lord - the God - Yahweh - with His people. It is the Lord of hosts - the living God of the covenant enthroned above the cherubim.
So 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. Even as we give value to being able to gather here to worship Him.
So 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.
Uzzah and Ahio - not to be confused with Ohio - Uzzah and Ahio - Abinadab’s son are leading the cart. 30,000 chosen men - and it seems even all 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 - central focal point of God’s people.
Which sounds harsh. Doesn’t it? The cart rocks - leans - the ark - God’s holy piece of furniture - is about to fall off and break into 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: And David was angry because the Lord had broken out 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? Maybe that’s you this morning. That was David.
Verse 9: So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.
David’s anger turns to fear. Meaning reverence. Meaning the wheels are turning. God doesn’t smite people capriciously. Something is wrong here.
Lot’s of people who are angry at God would be way more at peace with God - and just at peace period - if they would stop to think through that God Who loves us may actually have something different going on that we need to get clued in about.
David calls a time out. For three months the ark remains at the house of Obed-edom. Obed-edom and family get blessed.
Can you imagine this? Having the Ark of God sitting in your family room? We don’t dare touch it but its blocking the TV. How long until that gets old? The constant stream of pilgrims wandering through the house. What an honor. What a blessing.
Let’s think about God’s instructions.
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.
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. What difference does it make how?
Well, apparently it makes a difference to God. And Uzzah got dead to prove it.
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)
Saul - disobeying God - Saul offers sacrifices that are about Saul not God and God removes Saul and hands the kingdom over to David. (1 Samuel 15)
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).
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 had people write it down. If God’ didn’t expect us to follow the instructions He wouldn’t have given them to us in the first place. Regularly reading and studying the Bible should be a no-brainer for a follower of Jesus.
Thinking about those instructions - it is overwhelming to realize that those instructions are there to get us focused on responding to God faithfully and obediently from the heart level core of who we are.
If we show up on Sunday morning when and how we want - thinking about how much else we’ve got going on in our lives - trying to cram being here into a list of other things we’ve got going on - and just kinda going through the motions - then just maybe what we’re doing here is about us and not God.
Or if how we live the rest of the week - serving God… maybe. Doing the Christian thing… maybe. If doing that is like some kind of out of character obligation added in to everything else we’ve got going. Rather and coming from the heart at the core of who we are in loving response to God. Then maybe our doing all that is about us and not God.
God giving us instructions on how to live in relationship with Him and how He works and desires to work in our lives isn’t about creating opportunities for God to smack us when get out of line. God’s instructions are there to help us keep focused on Him and to understand where God is going with what’s going on in our lives when we get our focus off of Him and onto ourselves.
God caring about little ringlets and who touches His ark isn’t about the little ringlets and who touches the box - but about what all those instructions teach us about God - the holy God our creator who calls and enables and gathers us to worship Him. God Who deeply - relentlessly - loves each one of us.
And a some point here David gets it. Responds in fear - reverence for God. “God cares about how this is done and I blew it.” David begins to care about what God cares about. Time out. Let’s reboot.
The second part of what we’re looking at here is How David moved the Ark to Jerusalem - Part II: [which is...] God’s Way.
Verse 12: And it was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing.
Let’s pause there.
1 Chronicles 15 - starting at verse 1. Notice the contrast between how David moved the Ark - parts one and two. Verse 1: he [David] prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it.
David’s thinking ahead. We need a place for the Ark in Jerusalem. The original - think Moses - the original had probably been destroyed back in 1050 BC when the Philistines overran Shiloh. So, we need a tabernacle - a tent for God’s Ark.
Verse 2: Then David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord 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:
Who? Aaron and the Levites. Then starting in verse 5 were giving a long list of names and numbers of Levites. The punch line is in comes in verse 11: Then David summoned the priests Zadok and Abiathar, and the Levites Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab,
Are we tracking with David. Levites and priest. We’re following God’s instructions now.
David used the three months that the ark was at Obed-edom’s to seek out God and to study and learn how to do this right.
Lesson learned. There is no right way to do the right thing the wrong way.
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.
Back to 2 Samuel 6 - verse 13: And when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six steps, he [David] sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal.
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.
This moves slower than a snail moving backwards.
Then think about the logistics. The supply line of priests and men to make all this happen. It probably did take David three months to set all that up.
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 danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.
An 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?”
Imagine if worship could be like that - being totally lost in the presence of God our creator Who calls us here to worship Him.
Verse 16: As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, 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. And they brought in the ark of the Lord and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it. And David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts and distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed, each to his house.
There are understandable reasons why Michal could have despised David. Which are at study for another time.
Point being that here she’s identified as the daughter of Saul not David’s wife. Meaning: At the core of who she is her heart attitude is not with David or God. An attitude that God later judges - which tells us what God approves is not Michal’s evaluation of all this but what gets God’s approval is what we see coming from David.
The celebration is over the top. A celebration with food. Sound familiar? The food is symbolic of the God’s presence and blessing. Certainly something to celebrate.
The presence of the holy sovereign God Who instructs His people - teaching them Who He is - what it means to live in relationship with Him - how He is to be worshipped. God Who gathers His people. God alone Who is worthy of worship and praise and honor and glory forever.
Processing all that…
One takeaway for us this morning: The astounding awesomeness of having instructions.
God our creator Who creates all of whatever exists out of nothing - Who created and holds together the very atoms of our existence. God Who is the Sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords Potentate of His Kingdom - everywhere having authority and dominion over His creation.
God Who is Holy and without sin and morally separate from His creation - Who has every just right to condemn and eternally pour out His wrath on us. God Who deeply in love with us - relentless in His loving pursuit of us - Who is faithfully and purposefully working through history to rescue, redeem, and restore us - even to relationship with Him forever. God - Who takes on our humanity and sacrifices Himself in our place to deal definitively and completely with what separates us from Him.
God Who calls us to that relationship - Who gathers and enables us to serve and to worship and honor and glorify Him Who alone is worthy of all worship and honor and glory. Even the privilege of gathering here as Creekside - which we cannot take lightly.
That same God has inspired the writing of the Bible - inspired and without error and infallible. The Bible which God has preserved for us to read and to study. To know of Who He is - Who we are - and what it means to live in relationship with the living God now and forever.
How astounding is that?
Proverbs 8:33 - speaking of wisdom - wisdom meaning how what God knows applies in the day-to-day of our lives - meaning God’s instructions in how to do life - Proverbs 8:33 says: “Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.”
“Neglect” translates a Hebrew word which has the idea of “letting loose.” Women with braided hair - or a man bun - being undone - let loose.
Point being: If you want to be wise - if you want to know how to do life - don’t let go of God’s instruction.
Pursue it - pray and seek God in it - read it - study it - discuss it - digest it - hang on to it - meditate on it - marinate in it - obey it - be accountable to it. Let the word of THE God - shape and guide your whole life. Do not let anything or anyone distract or dissuade or deter you from doing that with everything you are with every breath of your life for every moment of your life.
That is a challenge for all of us. Even a guy like David needed to go back and get schooled. We all have more to learn. There is always room for growth in understanding and application. Neglect is easy. Pursuit is intentional.
These days what does pursuit look like for you? Scale of 1 to 10. Where are you at? 1 meaning I’d have trouble finding my Bible. 10 meaning I’ve got it memorized… backwards… in the original languages. What would it take to move understanding and obedience to Gods’ word more to the center of how you do life?
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.