Monday: 2 Samuel 6:1-2
We haven’t heard a word about the ark since the Philistines who had captured it returned it under the duress of plagues that had fallen upon them. For some twenty years it was lodged in the home of a Levite named Abinadab. Saul, the spiritually fallen king, had no desire for it. But David, who is now well settled into his reign as Israel’s good king, also has a good desire to bring the ark back to himself and to the people. He truly is a man after God’s own heart.
“And David arose…to bring up from there the ark of God, whose name is called by the Name, the Lordof Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim.” (2 Samuel 6:2, NKJV)
Just to read that reminds us of the greatness and the majesty of what this chest of gold represents—the very presence of God.
We remember that the ark is the presence of God, as it was in the traveling tabernacle.
“And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:8, NKJV)
We see Christ here: Christ is our ark. He is, as the prophet Isaiah predicted: “Immanuel—God with us.”
David was a perpetual seeker of God. His psalms are filled with a holy desire for the presence of the Lord in his life. He speaks of seeking Him morning, noon and night. He is found leaning toward the Lord in times of adversity, times of joy and in times of sin. Even after his darkest sin with Bathsheba, in brokenness, he knew he could find the redemption and turn-around he needed by seeking the Lord and His presence.
“Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” (Psalm 51:11–12, NKJV)
And David found that mercy. He did not lose His presence Saul had.
See Christ here: Christ is found upon the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. The Mercy Seat in Hebrew is kapporeth.It means “to cover” over sin. This shows us the most wonderful picture of Christ in His work of atonement.
“The only way for God and man to meet is the precise way and place upon the mercy seat. When a righteous God and a ruined sinner meet on a blood-sprinkled platform, all is well.” Brooks Keith
Think of the worse thing you ever did. What is the thing you were most ashamed of? Is it possible to receive absolute forgiveness and pardon? Yes! The blood upon the mercy seat is the blood of Christ. It is potent and effectual to cleanse from all sin.
Tuesday: 2 Samuel 6:3-5
They set the ark on a new cart. Right from the beginning the whole enterprise was in trouble. It wasn’t supposed to be set upon a cart to be pulled by beasts, it was to be carried upon the shoulders of men.
“But to the sons of Kohath he gave no inheritance, because theirs was the service of the holy things, which they carried on their shoulders.” (Numbers 7:9, NKJV)
“You shall cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in its four corners; two rings shall be on one side, and two rings on the other side. And you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by them.” (Exodus 25:12–14)
Good intentions do not make up for error. God has a prescribed way of doing things. With God, methods matter.
The scripture describes some great music being played on this day. A good worship band will not wash when God’s people are not acting right.
The making of a new cart was an imitation of what other nations did with their gods being rolled around on carts. The plague-worn Philistines had returned the ark on a new cart. 1 Samuel 6:7 Now the Israelites copy the same by having a new cart made.
How much of what we do is just copying from the world to attract men to Christ?
We have a lot of new carts today: new technology, new methods, new ways to interest people, new ways to preach without offending men, but the ark is wobbling like never before.
“Never before has the church had so many methods available to us, but at the same time, so little experience in the power of God.” Martin Lloyd Jones
A.W. Tozer describes a lot of new carts in the church today.
“Evangelical Christianity, at least in the United States, is now tragically below the New Testament standard. Worldliness is an accepted part of our way of life. Our religious mood is social instead of spiritual. We have lost the art of worship. We are not producing saints. Our models are successful businessmen, celebrated athletes and theatrical personalities. We carry on our religious activities after the methods of the modern advertiser. Our homes have been turned into theaters. Our literature is shallow and our hymnody (church music) borders on sacrilege. And scarcely anyone appears to care.”
See Christ here: This is an anatomy of King David’s first failure. It won’t be the last. Though a worshipper after God’s own heart, he failed and sinned—and often miserably. If there is anything redemptive about sin, it is the lesson that is learned from it by a repentant man. He will learn a very painful and permanent lesson from what soon happens here. Christ, the final son of David will take all of the sin failures of his people and qualify them, by His own righteousness, to be used of God.
Like Peter, who failed greatly, once deeply humbled, was restored by Christ and used greatly. This is what Christ does.
Wednesday: 2 Samuel 6:6-8
It looks like Uzzah was doing a good thing but it was a crime.
“…the Kohathites to come and do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. The Kohathites are to carry those things that are in the tent of meeting.” (Numbers 4:15)
This ark, on a cart being mechanically carried along on wheels and wooden boards is picture of man’s religion. It is made by men and pulled by beasts. And like the ark in our story, it is destined to stumble on even the flattest ground. In the end, it will kill men.
When Uzzah stepped up to help God, he essentially put his own hand to the work of salvation. We must be careful of any so-called gospel that focuses upon what man does verses what Christ already did. Men can’t save, only Christ can. We can add nothing to salvation. Jesus has perfectly accomplished it.
We remember the Five Solas of the reformation: sola fide, sola gratia, sola scriptura, solus Christus, soli Deo Gloria.
We are saved by faith alone, grace alone, through Christ alone. Our source of truth is scripture alone and everything is done for the glory of God alone.
But man, in his pride, has put his hand to it. The Roman Catholic church is one example of man reaching up to help God.
It is the "plus" religion:
Faith plus works, Grace plus merit, Christ plus other mediators, Scripture plus tradition, For the Glory of God and other saints.
Such a religion will stumble every time and it will save no man.
See Christ here: When he was upon the cross he declared “It is finished!” This meant much more than a declaration that his crucifixion was completed. It is the word tetelestai. It is the same Greek word that was written upon an ancient invoice: “Paid in full.” Christ alone fully accomplished paying our debt. We can add nothing to it.
David declared in the Psalms the joy that comes to someone who by faith alone receives a pardon apart from his own works. Paul quotes him in Romans 4:3:
“But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lordshall not impute sin.”” (Romans 4:5–8, NKJV)
As we think about helping the Lord, let us get this right: God is entirely self-sufficient. He doesn’t need air, water, food or shelter. And he doesn’t need our help. He doesn’t need our defense either.
He is the eternal undefended.
Uzzah’s intentions were good but his help was uneeded. He was trying to rescue God. Today’s ark is reeling and rocking and men are worrying and stewing how to rescue Christianity. Friends, God doesn’t need your help or mine.
“We commonly represent Him as a busy, eager, somewhat frustrated Father hurrying around seeking to carry out his benevolent plant to bring peace and salvation to the world. I fear that thousands of younger persons enter Christian service from no higher motive than to help deliver God from the embarrassing situation His love has gotten him into and his limited abilities seem unable to get Him out of.” A. W. Tozer
“God is self-sufficient. ”The Lord is capable of handling himself. He does not need our help or our defense. This wicked world may seem to winning and the Lord and his people losing in a big way.
Leonard Ravenhill described it this way:
“These days are a Noah-like society, when the earth again is corrupt before Thee and when violence has become a way of life. Sexual immorality is a sport. Iniquity is legislated and unborn babies are mutilated in the womb. We see that the law of the days is lawlessness, the faith of the days is faithlessness, the philosophy of the day is hopelessness, the evident condition of the church is powerlessness.”
But take this to heart: The ark was invisible to the people of Israel for twenty years from Saul to David. The true church of Jesus Christ may be nearly or entirely invisible in this messed up world today. But visibility is no true mark of the true Church. God is, that is, He exists though you cannot see Him. And, He knows who His people are.
“Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.””
(2 Timothy 2:19, NKJV)
God is a God who hides Himself. He is also a God who reveals Himself. And when He does, the world will know Him and who His people are. He will shake the earth again and heaven with it. “whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”” (Hebrews 12:26, NKJV)
He will not need anyone’s help.
See Christ here: Christ brings chaos under perfect control. The disciples faced a storm of cataclysmic proportions. Seasoned fisherman, they did not scare easily at the bump of a wave. But the Gospel of Mark tells us that they awakened a sleeping Jesus: “Teacher, do you not care if we drown?” Christ may seem to be sleeping in raging world of political chaos and human lawlessness, but in one waking moment he will arise and rebuke it all,
“Peace, be still!”
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20–21, TNIV)
David was angry because the Lord’s anger broke out that day. David was angry with himself for his own foolishness, we hope. Should we be angry with God when we experience discipline because of the wrong we have done?
“David feared the Lord that day”—as he should have. A lack of fear was Uzzah’s problem. His familiarity with that chest for twenty years may have made Him all too casual with the Holy things of God and with God Himself.
“Perhaps he affected to show, before this great assembly, how bold he could make with the ark, having been so long acquainted with it. Familiarity, even with that which is most awful, is apt to breed contempt.” Matthew Henry
“Beware of presumption, rashness and irreverence in dealing with Holy things. Good intention will not excuse rash actions. We must not trifle in our approaches to God.”
David didn’t do his homework before but better late than never.
“It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lordour God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.”” (1 Chronicles 15:13)
We then see that the Levites consecrated themselves and carried the ark of God with poles on their shoulders, “as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the Lord.” 1 Chronicles 15:14-15
There is something of a personal responsibility about carrying the ark on the shoulders. A lot of people are clamoring for their rights today, but few are clamoring for responsibility. Some want the privileges of marriage but not the responsibility of marriage. Some want the privileges of being a church member, but they don’t want the responsibilities of being a church member.
Carrying the ark is a picture of responsibility and relationship with God going together. God’s presence is ushered in on both.
“The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use -- men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men -- men of prayer.” E.M. Bounds
This preacher must stop in preparing a message when I am preparing too much in my mind and not preparing in my heart.
Serving God is a personal thing not a mechanical thing.
Machines do not have relationships. Siri and Alexa can only imitate that they care but they don’t. They have no souls. You can be just as soul-less when you work for the Lord without worship. Whether it is hospitality, generosity or administration, whatever your gifting is, you must not default to being automatic about it. Rather, be personal and passionate with God before you carry it to someone else.
That is the secret of worship and work. That is a ministry the Lord will bless.
See Christ here: Salvation is not found in a method but in a man. Jesus spoke of heaven to His disciples. Thomas pulls a classic man-move. He wants to know the method on how to get to heaven. Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus doesn’t tell him the how, He tells him the who.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:1–7, NKJV)
Eternal life isn’t found in a bunch of dos and don’ts. You can’t get to heaven through a bunch of left and right turns in your Google Maps. Heaven is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved.”” (Acts 4:12, TNIV)