The Desire to do Great Things for God

    1 Chronicles 13:1-14

Intro:

  • Throughout history God has raised up men and placed within them a passion to serve him and to glorify his name. There are so many examples of such men that it would be impossible to make reference to them all. Instead, here are a few statements from men of God in history:
  • Wesley once said: “If I had three hundred men who feared nothing but God, hated nothing but sin, and were determined to know nothing among men but Jesus Christ and him crucified, I would set the world on fire.”1
  • E.M. Bounds said, “There is no substitute for devotion to God in the person’s character and conduct… God must be the mainspring of the believer’s effort, the fountain and crown of all toil… We must have no inspiration but the name of Jesus Christ and his honor, no ambition but to glorify him, no effort but for him… The only ambition the Christian can cherish is to have God with him.”
  • Nicholas of Flue, a Swiss hermit pleaded with God, “O Lord, take from me what keeps me from Thee; give me what brings me to Thee; and take myself and give me Thyself!”2
  • The Chronicler writes around 400 B.C. to post-exilic Jews living in the Promised Land (maybe the Temple is rebuilt by this time) to reaffirm major themes for them – the Davidic covenant, the Temple, the Levitical priesthood, the Mosaic law, and the Abrahamic covenant. The people are wondering what their connection is to these issues and the chronicler connects the dots for them. He reminds them that they are still the covenant people of God – the land will be theirs, they will have a king, the law must be obeyed, the priests must function, and the Temple is central. Ultimately this points to the future Messianic King.
  • In our present passage, the chronicler highlights David’s desire to inquire of the Lord by means of the ark of the covenant. The ark was where Israel could meet with God. Significantly, David wanted the ark of God in Jerusalem, where he could inquire of the Lord. As we consider 1 Chronicles 13, we will witness the desire of David to honor and serve God in his life. So, let’s look at David’s mission to recover the Ark of the Covenant.
  1. David includes all of Israel in his desire to return the ark of God to Jerusalem (1-4).
    1. The king desires to include the leaders, the priests, and the people in this endeavor (1-2).
      1. David wanted to improve upon Saul’s reign as king. He was known as a man after God’s own heart, Saul on the other hand followed his own heart. David wanted to make certain that he obeyed the word of the Lord and that he inquired of the Lord. These are the two major indictments made against Saul (1 Chron. 10:13-14).
      • It is interesting that the chronicler mentions that David specifically asks for the Levites to be informed of their mission to bring the ark to Jerusalem (13:2). The account in Second Samuel does not mention the Levites (2Sam. 6:1-11).
      1. Some would say the reason for this inclusion of the Levites in the chronicler’s account is that he has not reported the historical event accurately, for purposes of idealizing David. But, we would not accept such a proposal of Scripture presenting an inaccurate historical account.
      2. Instead, the issue may be resolved by looking at chapter 15 and noting that David himself states that only the Levites are permitted to carry the ark of God (15:2). Likely, either the Levites did not accompany David to recover the ark, or they had forgotten how they were to transport the ark – either way Zadok and Abiathar the priests who would have needed to pack it up prior to the Kohathites carrying it, did not make the trip (15:11-13).
        1. David’s desire to keep the word of the Lord and to inquire of him, in contrast to Saul (3-4).
          1. David knew that Saul had not honored God throughout his reign as king over Israel. He knew the mistakes of the past. He even mentions to the leaders of Israel that the nation did not seek the ark of God during the time of Saul (13:3). The ark had been at Kiriath-Jearim for about 100 years (c. 1104-1003 B.C). Truly, this is very descriptive of Saul’s reign as king, he did not seek God. Now that David was king over Israel, he purposed to honor God during his reign.
          2. Saul was the Lord’s anointed, the chosen King over Israel. He stood head and shoulders above all the people, and was a great warrior for God (1 Sam. 9:1-2). He looked to be the perfect physical specimen to rule over Israel. Yet, when Saul was pressed by circumstances, he took matters into his own hands, rather than trusting God by obeying his word.
            1. The chronicler gives this final commentary on the life of Saul, Saul did not keep the word of the Lord and did not inquire of him (1 Chron.10:13-14).
            • He chose not to consult God by means of the ark of the covenant (1 Sam. 14:16-23). It must be noted that when the people panicked, Saul did ask Ahijah to bring him the ark of God (14:16-23). Yet, as soon as he noticed that the tide of the battle had turned, he ordered the priest to withdraw his hand and not to inquire of God (14:19).
            • He chose to consult a medium (1 Sam. 28: 3-19). As a result of his sin against God, God was silent toward Saul (28:1-25). This did not deter Saul from seeking strategic advice about the future, so he inquired of a medium, which he knew to be sin because he had previously ordered the execution of all mediums (28:3b, 9).

    Application #1 Recognize the mistakes of those who came before and don’t repeat them. “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” As men preparing for, and being involved in ministry, we are able to look around at those who have come before us and to evaluate the effectiveness of their ministries. Many times as we evaluate the ministries of those who have come before us, we find their methods to be ineffective and undesirable. Seeing these things motivates us to do better. We see what we don’t want to be. David saw what he did not want to be in Saul and he was dissatisfied with those mistakes.

    1. David devises a strategy to return the ark of God to Jerusalem (5-7).
      1. All of Israel gathers to retrieve the ark (5).
        1. All Israel from the Shihor River (the southern border of Israel) to the entrance of Hamath (the northern border of Israel) went with David to retrieve the ark (13:5-6). The chronicler is demonstrating that this was a united effort, the whole nation was involved.
      2. The ark represents the presence of God (6).
        1. It is said to be either: called by his name; or where his name is called. The ark was representative of God (called by his name ) and it was where the nation was able to inquire of God (where his name is called ). The passage in Second Samuel is translated, “the ark of God which is called by the Name, the very name of the LORD of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim” (2 Sam. 6:2b). The ark was where the nation was to call upon the name of the Lord, it was where he would meet with them (Ex. 25:17-22).
        2. The ark was a rectangular chest made of Acacia wood and overlaid with gold (Ex. 37:1-9). It was covered with a lid of gold (a.k.a. the mercy seat), which is where God was said to meet with his people, and over which two cherubs hovered (Ex. 25:17-22). On each side of the ark were two rings, through which a pole was inserted for the purpose of transporting the ark (Ex. 37:3-5). It measured approximately 45 x 27 x 27 inches (Ex. 37:1). The Ark was the specific place of God’s dwelling within the Temple. It contained three items: the 10 Commandments, a pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod (Exodus 25:16; 40:20; Deuteronomy 10:1-5; Hebrews 9:4).
      3. The ark is placed on a new cart (7).
        1. Ahio and Uzza are the ones who are driving the oxen (13:7). The account in Second Samuel describes them as the sons of Abinidab (2 Sam. 6:3). They transport the ark on a new cart. Ironically, this is exactly how the Philistines transported the ark (1 Sam. 6:2, 7-8).
            • God did not bring judgment upon the unbelieving Philistines for improperly transporting the ark. He does bring judgment upon his own people for improperly transporting the ark, for disobeying his Word.
            • The Ark was to be carried by the Levites, who was carry it on their shoulders by means of the poles which were inserted through the rings on both sides of the ark ( Exodus 25:14; 37:1-9; 40:20; Numbers 4:1-20).

    Application #2 – Do not be content with merely knowing what is biblical, do something about it. When you know the truth, act upon it. Even though Saul did not inquire of the Lord by means of the ark of the covenant, David was going to make certain that he did so. He was not content to merely recognize Saul’s mistakes, he was going to do things the right way. We should do the same, recognize mistakes of those who came before us and fix them, doing things the right way.

    1. David’s celebration over returning the ark of God to Jerusalem ends abruptly (8-10).
      1. The king and the people are celebrating over the prospect of returning the ark (8).
        1. David and all the people were rejoicing before God as they traveled back to Jerusalem (13:8). Everything was going fine and the ark was on its way back home.
      2. Uzzah prevents the ark from falling off the cart (9).
        1. Unfortunately David does not transport the ark according to the word of God. This leads to Uzza touching the ark and God taking his life in judgment. David had the right desire, transporting the ark to Jerusalem. He wanted to serve God. He wanted to do God’s will. But in the process he violated Scripture and it negatively affected others. He had the ark transported in a way that violated God’s word. If David had transported the ark in the way that God’s word described Uzza would not have died in this way.
        2. The Ark was to be carried by the Levites, who was carry it on their shoulders by means of the poles which were inserted through the rings on both sides of the ark ( Exodus 25:14; 37:1-9; 40:20; Numbers 4:1-20).
      3. God strikes Uzzah dead for touching the ark (10).
        1. God is holy and he will be honored as holy. Some would look at this passage in question the character of God. He looks like he is vengeful and full of wrath. God clearly informed the people of Israel of his holy nature, “ Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘it is what the Lord spoke, saying, “By those who come near me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored’” (Lev. 10:3). Moses later heard these words from God, “Because you have not believed me, to treat me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them” (Num. 20:12).
        2. Moses spoke these words to the nation prior to entering the Promised Land, You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. You should diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies and his statutes which he has commanded you. You shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with you and that you may go in and possess the good land which the LORD swore to give your fathers, by driving out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has spoken.” (Deut. 6:16-19).

    #3 – Application – Do everything according to the Word of God. The desire to do great things for God is awesome but make certain that everything is done according to the word of the Lord. Equip and lead churches to evangelize lost people more effectively. Equip and lead churches to disciple believers more effectively. But, make certain in the process that you do everything in accordance with the word of God. Use strategic means that do not compromise the truth of God’s word, nor contradict it.

    1. David’s desire to return the ark of God to Jerusalem is put on hold (11-14).
      1. David is angry because of God’s reaction (11).
        1. David is immediately angry at God. He demonstrates this by naming the place Perez-Uzza (“breakthrough of Uzza”). David had a great desire. He wanted to return the ark of God to Jerusalem for the purpose of inquiring of God, but he did it in the wrong way. Rather than regretting his error, he is mad at God for ruining his plan. David was planning to inquire of God, in contrast to Saul who did not inquire of God. So, he is wondering why God is so upset.
      2. David is fearful because of God’s reaction (12).
        1. David becomes afraid of God. David is wondering how he can ever transport the ark to Jerusalem. He certainly understands that God is upset because of how he reacted toward Uzza touching the ark. David has just been shocked with the holiness of God. God is just demonstrated in a very real way that he will be honored in the way he has prescribed. God must be obeyed according to his Word.
      3. David stores the ark at Obed-edom’s house (13-14). As a result of what has happened David does not dare to take the ark any further. So he leaves it at Obed-edom’s house, whose family enjoys the blessing of God for the entire three months that the ark was present with them.

    #4 – Application – Recognize that our decisions will affect others, for good and for bad. The things that we do, our successes and our mistakes have greater impact than we likely realize in the moment. So, we must make certain that in our creativity and in our drive to honor God, we remember that the things we do and the things we lead people to do have consequences – for good and for bad. The privilege of God allowing us to serve him as leaders in his church carries incredible responsibility and we should make sure that we lead people to do things biblically.

    Conclusion:

    • The strategic means we use to serve God are always important. The strategic means must always be according to the Word of God. First Chronicles 15:2, 11-15 describes David as a man who desires to seek God and do his will, yet in full accordance with the Scriptures. This time David makes certain that his good desire of transporting the ark to Jerusalem is done according to the word of God. David ensures that the ark is transported in the way that God instructed (Exodus 25:14; 37:1-9; 40:20; Numbers 4:1-20). David does not make the same mistake again. He ensures that the Levites are the ones who transport the ark according to the biblically prescribed manner – carrying it by the poles, which were inserted through the rings on the sides of the ark. David recognizes that even though his desires were good, the strategic means that he used were contrary to Scripture and resulted in negative consequences.
    • God is holy and he must be honored as holy. Even though David had great desires to honor God and serve them, he did not do it according to the Word of God. There are important lessons for us to learn from this passage. Here are three principles from the passage for application:

    Application #1 Recognize the mistakes of those who came before and don’t repeat them. “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” As men preparing for, and being involved in ministry, we are able to look around at those who have come before us and to evaluate the effectiveness of their ministries. Many times as we evaluate the ministries of those who have come before us, we find their methods to be ineffective and undesirable. Seeing these things motivates us to do better. We see what we don’t want to be. David saw what he did not want to be in Saul and he did not want to repeat those same mistakes.

     

    Application #2 – Do not be content with merely knowing what is biblical, do something about it. When you know the truth, act upon it. Even though Saul did not inquire of the Lord by means of the ark of the covenant, David was going to make certain that he did so. He was not content to merely recognize Saul’s mistakes, he was going to do things the right way. We should do the same, recognize mistakes of those who came before us and fix them, doing things the right way.

     

     

    Application #3 – Do everything according to the Word of God. The desire to do great things for God is awesome but make certain that everything is done according to the word of the Lord. Equip and lead churches to evangelize lost people more effectively. Equip and lead churches to disciple believers more effectively. But, make certain in the process that you do everything in accordance with the word of God. Use strategic means that do not compromise the truth of God’s word, nor contradict it.

     

    Application #4 – Recognize that our decisions will affect others, for good and for bad. The things that we do, our successes and our mistakes have greater impact than we likely realize in the moment. So, we must make certain that in our creativity and in our drive to honor God, we remember that the things we do and the things we lead people to do have consequences – for good and for bad. The privilege of God allowing us to serve him as leaders in his church carries incredible responsibility and we should make sure that we lead people to do things biblically.

     

    Desire and choose to do great things for God, but make certain you do everything according to the Word of God.

    1 Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996).

    2 Ibid.

    About these ads