In the Old Testament, we read about God's non-negotiable instruction on obedience and the specific ways He commanded His people to follow and worship Him. In these precise details given to the Israelites, we discover powerful lessons for life in 2022 as well. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll presents another message in his biographical series on David, a man of passion and destiny. This time, we'll be talking about a sacred container that held the stone tablets of God's covenant. Chuck titled today's message, David and the Ark. I want you to understand several things to begin with in 2 Samuel 6.
First of all, the place where we are is Jerusalem. Second, the king is David, and he's a new king. Saul is gone. He died of suicide, and in the latter part of his 40-year reign, he compromised and he fiddled around with all other things besides his job, and he neglected the things of God.
He was a mediocre king, to put it best. Now understand, in the days of David, the central place of worship was not the believer, but the tabernacle. And under Saul's reign, the tabernacle sort of drifted, and the enemy took the Ark of the Covenant. There was no worship of Jehovah in Jerusalem. Now, when David took over the throne, he realized there's no central place of worship. The people of Israel are spread out.
Their walk is mediocre. Their heart isn't hot after God. Now in order for me to pull some of this together, I need the Ark of the Covenant back in its right place. His heart was after God's, even to the point of getting little pieces of furniture and putting it in a certain place within the parameters of God's will and God's precepts. So chapter 6 is how he got the Ark of the Covenant back in Jerusalem.
Let's read some of these things and see the tie in. David gathered all the chosen men of Israel, 30,000. David arose and went with all the people who were with him to Baal 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.
Explain that in a few moments. They placed the Ark of God on a new cart that they might bring it from the house of Abinadab. Verse 4, 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. Now here's David over here rejoicing and celebrating and having the greatest delightful time knowing that the Ark of the Covenant was coming back home where it belonged in Zion.
It even tells us about his band. He had instruments made of wood with lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. As I heard the recorders play tonight it occurred to me that maybe some of the sounds that came from those little pipes were something like the sounds that came from these little instruments mentioned in verse 5. There was a sound of music and there was the delight of obedience beating in the heart of David. The Ark is coming back. You see David is an expedient kind of man.
He's a pragmatist. David's the king. He's a decision maker and he knows in order for the people to worship they need the Ark of the Covenant. In order to get the Ark of the Covenant from the hill, the home of Abinadab, down here to this place the best way to do it is on a cart. Verse 3, so they got a new cart that was nice. They put the cart underneath this chest. They set the chest on it. He got a couple of three men that were available and said, bring it down to Jerusalem. So they bring this thing down on a cart. They're bringing it on the way and something happens. Suddenly there's a death in the chain gang bringing this thing down.
You notice it? Verse 7, the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah and God struck him there for his irreverence and he died by the Ark of God. Well what did he do?
Verse 6, 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. That's all he did. I mean, after all it's the only practical thing to do if you're going to be, if it's going to drop you've got to grab it. Well it wouldn't have ever dropped if they had done it right. Well what's right? Let me tell you what's right. The Levites, in fact the sons of Kohath, were the ones to carry the Ark. The poles were to be put through the little ringlets at the bottom of the chest and the poles were to be put up on the shoulders of these specially chosen men and they were to balance this thing as they carried it from one place to another. David didn't do that.
He took a convenient route and he changed the details to fit the expediency of the hour. It's like I heard said some time ago, it doesn't matter what you do, do something even if it's wrong. That's the most stupid counsel I've ever heard. Do nothing until it's right. Then do it with all your might. That's wise counsel. But David said, good, get it down here.
Who cares about how to get it here? God does, David. And to prove it, it took Juzah's life.
What's his name? Yeah, Juzah. Took his life. Now here's David standing alongside a corpse and he got mad, verse 8. He became angry because of the Lord's outburst against Juzah.
Wait a minute, we got the cart before the horse, no pun intended. We've got David standing here mad at the Lord when in fact the Lord was angry at David. Well, I thought you said he was a man after God's heart.
I did. Does that mean he's perfect? It does not. Having a heart for God doesn't mean you're perfect, it means you're sensitive. It means every detail is important and when you see you're wrong, you face it.
You own up, you come to terms with it. Verse 9, it says David was afraid of the Lord that day and said how can the ark of the Lord come to me? Now understand, David hasn't done his homework. We often get into trouble when we don't do our homework. When we seek the Lord's will and we reach out on a lark and we're going to do that and so in expediency or in convenience or in a hurry, we make that decision and the Lord says, look, I've written a lot of things in my book about that decision you just made and I want you to take counsel from me.
That's why it's not working. And if you want to have a heart for me, then you check my word and you find either precept or principle and you go according to that and I'll make you happy like you can't believe. If you don't, I will make you miserable. In fact, in David's case, the Lord said I'll even take some lives. We see Uzzah taken because he touched an article of furniture that was not to be touched, especially by a non-Levite. Who cares about Levites? God does.
Who cares about little ringlets and little golden poles that go through ringlets and shoulders rather than waist? God does. If he didn't care, he wouldn't have said it.
Hey, that's the point of a whole message. When we begin to care about the things God cares about, we're on our way to real freedom and real happiness. Well, David was afraid. He said, how can the Ark of the Lord come to me? David was unwilling to move the Ark of the Lord into the city of David with him.
You better believe it. The last time he tried, it cost the life of a man. So David said leave it and they put it in the home of the man named Obed-Edom.
Three months pass. No Ark in Jerusalem. Obed-Edom is having the time of his life. He's getting all the blessing and David is wondering what in the world is happening as his stomach is churning. I want the Ark of the Lord here and Obed-Edom has it there. What's wrong?
I want you to see a change. Verse 12, it was told David, 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. Well, wait a minute. I thought it said that he didn't touch it. But it says here that he brought it up. Why is it that a few verses earlier wouldn't touch it and a few verses later he's saying bring it in and they brought it in.
It was great. I'll show you. First Chronicles chapter 15 tells us in a parallel passage what happened behind the scenes. This was so neat when I stumbled over this in my study.
It's one of those moments where you say, glory! But nobody understands so you just write it down and keep working. First Chronicles 15 verse 12. Take verse 11. David called for Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, and for the Levites. Ah!
What happened? Well, one of David's counselors, no doubt, or the Lord himself, came to David and said, my friend, you know the word specifically states that before the ark or any furniture can be moved, it's got to be moved a certain way by a certain group of people. And David, who's hot after God, responded, really?
I didn't know that. Yeah, David, it's got to be done his way. Well, what's his way? Well, there are these little ringlets and you've got to put poles in them and you've got to put the poles up on the shoulders and you've got to let the Levites, the sons of Kohath, carry this thing. If you do that, David, you're home free. Look at what it says, verse 12. David said to them, you're the heads of the father's household, the Levites.
He's done his homework, see. Consecrate yourselves, both you and your relatives, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord, a God of Israel, to the place I 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.
Ah, that's it. He didn't seek the Lord. He just sort of flashed out there to get the job done and that's when you get burned. Man, testimony time, isn't it? How many of us could come to the front and admit, oh, with a great deal of embarrassment, oh, let me tell you about the time I did that. Like how many could say, oh, I remember back when I made that decision about marriage and I thought, well, if I just marry him, I'll lead him to Christ.
Didn't work, did it? Or the Lord will understand because he's a God of grace and he doesn't really mean those things specifically and I can go ahead and develop this business because he's got the brains, even though he doesn't know the Lord, and I've got the walk with the Lord and I'll lead him to Christ. So we go into partnership. But the Lord said, don't go into partnership, Christian with a non-Christian. Well, David said, the Lord did that because we didn't seek him. Verse 14, so the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring the ark of God of Israel and the sons of the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.
Now you're talking David. Isn't that beautiful? You say, what's the big deal about the whole message on poles and ringlets and oh, what's the message? The message is our life. You see, it is the pole, it is the ringlet, it is the detail that drives us crazy in our carnal life. We don't want to go to the trouble of getting the poles or they want to go to the trouble of putting the poles upon our shoulders.
I mean, it's a lot easier to have carts. And after all, the American is a pretty pragmatic kind of person and the Lord can't be that concerned about details. Let me tell you something. If the Lord cared enough to ride it and cared enough to preserve it, he cares enough about the details to have you pull it off his way. Well that's what David did.
I love that. Second Samuel chapter 6 says he brought it down and verse 13, this is cool, so it was then that when the bearers of the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. One, two, three, four, five, six, hold it. Anybody got a match? Bring in the ox, bring in the fatling, put fire to it.
These guys are standing there watching this thing go up. And David is very careful. You don't want to fiddle around with something that God got specific about, man. Why does he say that? Because he's a man after God's heart. He cares about what God cares about. And when he heard the truth, he wanted to do it, just like God said.
Six paces, fatling. Finally, they got it into Jerusalem, and look at what David's doing. Next verse.
Because some people are going to say, why, you live like that? You're so bound up and rigid. Well, I'm going to ask you, is David rigid? Verse 14, he was dancing before the Lord with all his might. David was wearing a linen ephod. This thing was flying all around and he's dancing. And if that's not bad enough, look at the next verse. David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark with shouting and the sound of the trumpet. This guy's over here blowing his trumpet and David's dancing over here and all shouting together and these guys are bringing this ark in.
Can you picture that? Why in the world would I get so excited about it? Because they're free. When you obey, you're free. When you disobey, you're in bondage. And I can name a half a dozen illustrations right now if I had the courage of individuals I know who are in bondage because they're in sin. And they talk about it as freedom. They're not free.
The guy dancing is free. Because he stuck that pole in the ringlet because he put the pole on the shoulders of the right man, David's free. Oh, that is so good what God's showing us tonight. The world system says, don't worry about those little nails. God's bigger than little golden ringlets. No, he's not. Because he sees the whole scene, he puts our obedience to the test in just little things like a pole and a shoulder.
Well I want you to know that when you're really free, the people who are not so free are going to have trouble with you. Illustration, David's wife. Verse 16, now here's her husband down there doing his number with the linen ephod and singing and shouting and the trumpets blowing. Here's Michael up there in the second floor, flat, looking down on her husband. It happened as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David. Michael, the daughter of Saul, looked out the window and saw King David leaping, dancing before the Lord.
She despised him in her heart. Think of that. They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in the place inside the tent which David had pitched for it, and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Man, he's offering burnt offerings all over the place. Then he hands out little sandwiches. Look at it.
Look at what he does. After he offered the burnt offerings and peace offerings, verse 18, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord a host. He's having a great time. 19 says he distributed to all the people, both men and women, a cake of bread and dates and raisins. Man, you know, looked like a guy throwing peanuts at a ball game, giving it all out. It's a great moment.
Oh, what a fantastic experience. So on the heels of that, he goes home, walks up the stairs, opens the door. Hi, honey. Here's Michael, verse 20. When he returned to bless his household, here he walks in with hands full of raisins and dates and bread, and he's going to dump all this, and Michael the daughter said, oh, how the king of Israel distinguished himself today.
He uncovered it himself today in the eyes of the servant's maids as one of the foolish when he shamelessly uncovers himself. Sarcasm, sarcasm, sarcasm, jab, jab. I tell you, they did not have good chemistry. They should never have married. Frankly, they should have never married. It's like I love the story of Churchill and Lady Astor. Boy, there was no love lost between them, and one time Lady Astor said to Churchill, if I were your wife, I'd put arsenic in your tea, and he said, if I were your husband, I'd drink it. Now, at some time, you got that kind of bad chemistry, you know, between husband and wife, and she said, fat chance, you're the big king down there dancing all over the place, and I want you to notice how he took the bull by the horns, or the cow by the horns right here.
Notice this. Verse 21, David said to Michael, boy, talk about having confidence, it was before the Lord who chose me above your daddy, jab, jab, twist, twist, and above all his house to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord over Israel. I will celebrate before the Lord. I will be more lightly esteemed than this.
You think this is tough, wait until tomorrow. I will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, I will still be distinguished. And Michael, the daughter of Saul, had no child to the day of her death. I don't know exactly why, perhaps he was never again intimate with her. Whatever was the reason, she was barren till the day of her death. That was the greatest stigma a Jewish woman could bear, is to be barren.
Two things I learned from this, along with a whole host of other things, and this whole matter of focus, notice one was horizontal, one was vertical, David's eyes on the Lord, her eyes on the maids. Here are the lessons. Number one, the better you know where you stand with the Lord, the freer you can be.
When I do the homework and I find out where I stand with my Lord, I am free. And I might add, there will be many that won't understand. You will be seen in the eyes of some as detestable. You'll be misunderstood.
Like David with his own wife. You know, you won't care about public opinion either. You'll care very much about the Lord's opinion. The better you know where you stand, the freer you can be. Second, the freer you are before the Lord, the more confident you will become. You know where you stand.
That is real security. And I never know exactly why God puts together a series of thoughts on a particular evening. I've said that many times. Tonight's talk has said one thing to one person and something altogether different to someone else. Some of you might be bound up in the whole world of a carnal walk and you're thinking, hey, this is really free.
That's not free. That's the worst kind of bondage. And others of you might be thinking, well, if I've gotten so specific about this business of the Christian life, I must be majoring in the minors. Now, wait a minute. It's possible, but if it's important to God, it ought to be important to you. If God took the time to put it down, it's a precept you better believe. Thirty-five miles an hour means thirty-five miles an hour.
It never means thirty-eight, never means forty-five, it means thirty-five. And he never changes. He means what he says and he says it. Some of you might be like Michael. So occupied with what everybody else is saying, all you can do is view a few people that are genuinely free with jaundiced eyes and say they get all the breaks.
Wait. God sets his heart of favor on those whose hearts are following him. He honors those that honor his word. He makes them exceedingly happy.
I would like to ask all of us to bow together for just a few moments, please. We've learned a little bit about David's life today that we didn't know before. When God gives specific instructions for doing his will, he wants it done in exactly that way, doesn't he? And we also learned that God really meant business.
When he had instructed, only the Levites were to move the ark of the covenant with the poles through those rings on the sides of the ark carried on their shoulders. That was how God wanted it done. And there was no other way.
And God explained it exactly as he meant it to be handled exactly that way. It was only when David finally obeyed, remember, that it was done with great joy. Let me say something to all of you who are hearing this message today who have no relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ. Christ alone is the way to freedom. Christ alone is the way to joy. Through Christ alone, you will know forgiveness and purpose and definition for the future. He is the only way of redemption. And that is made possible for us when we accept what Jesus Christ did on the cross on our behalf.
Though two thousand years ago all of that occurred, that penalty paid for your sins was paid in full and is still effective. What a wonderful gift God offers, the gift of his grace. By your receiving Jesus Christ, you can know eternal life, and he can turn your life around in a remarkable way and give you the freedom and joy, the kind of freedom and joy you just heard that occurred in the life of David when he did God's will. So as I lead in prayer, this would be a great moment for you to pray, inviting Christ to come to live in your life. Lord God, today we thank you for your word, for the truth that lives and abides forever. The heaven and earth will pass away, but your words will never pass away.
And even though a story comes to us from ancient days, it has a relevant ring to it and how it fills the void of our empty world of our broken hearts. Today I pray for those whose lives are marked by emptiness, sadness, and all the things that go with the consequences of sin. I pray that you will lead them to a knowledge of your son, Jesus Christ, and give them no peace until Christ has invaded their lives. For those who live their lives still bound up, though in Christ, may they come to know a grace and freedom that accompanies obedience. And may that grace and freedom mark our lives as your followers, as we in a winsome manner make known your son to a world that's lost its way as well as its joy. In the name of Christ, I pray this.
Amen. You're listening to Insight for Living. With Chuck Swindoll's prayer, we conclude another week of studying the Bible together. He titled today's message, David and the Ark. To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. Although we're wrapping up five days of study on this program, there's still a number of ways to continue learning about David.
For instance, we provide interactive study notes for every sermon presented on Insight for Living. Today's study on David and the Ark has a complete document you can either view online or download the PDF to print out or send a copy to your small group Bible study. Be sure to download Chuck's Searching the Scriptures Studies by going online to insight.org slash studies. In addition, Chuck wrote a biography on David that's become quite popular, and it's one that will remind you of God's unfailing love, even in our lowest moments. It's a great choice to add to your reading list, and we can't recommend it enough.
You'll find all the details on the book David, a Man of Passion and Destiny when you go to insight.org slash offer. These daily programs and resources are made possible in part because people just like you give voluntary donations. Insight for Living is a nonprofit organization that relies on your prayerful support and financial gifts. Your gifts truly do make a difference. Let me share this comment from a grateful friend who said, Pastor Chuck, I started reading your books 25 years ago. It was a great help in my spiritual growth. Then one day my stubborn and rebellious heart went astray. I hid from God for a number of years.
I ignored him because I was enjoying and loving my sins, and it was exactly a year ago that I ran back to his arms. I thank God for your life. Once again, to give online today, go to insight.org slash donate, or if you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. We look forward to hearing from you soon. I'm Bill Meyer inviting you to join us when Chuck Swindoll continues his biography of David, a Man of Passion and Destiny. That's Monday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, David and the Ark, was copyrighted in 1978, 1988, 1997, 2009, and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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