Pastor Becky Thomas
2 Samuel 5, David was 30 years old when he became king. He looked at Jerusalem and wanted it, so he went up and fought against the Jebusites. The Jebusites thought so little of David they said, “David cannot come in here” so they said to him, “you will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off”. So David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David and he built it up and the scripture says he became greater and greater for the God of hosts was with him.
Then Hiram king of Tyre sends his friendship to David in the form of cedar trees, carpenters and masons who built him a house and it was in this city that he reigned over all Israel and Judah for 33 years.
Sometime in there in 2 Samuel 6 David decides to go get the ark of the Covenant from Baal-Judah. The ark was they symbol of the Presence of God, and the Presence did in fact stay with the ark. In the ark there were objects that were a record of God’s dealings with Israel. There were the 10 Commandments which spoke of the law of God. There was the rod of Aaron which represented the shepherding of the Lord – the miracles etc. And there was the jar that held the manna which represented God’s ability to provide without any help from them.
So David and all of the chosen men of Israel, which was 30,000 of them marched over to get the ark, so excited to bring the most sacred objects to David’s city. They tossed it into an ox cart but as they were coming the oxen stumbled so a poor unfortunate named Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark. And God struck him dead because of his error which ended the welcome home party. And David was both angry with the Lord and afraid, and so he took it over to Obed Edom the Gittite and left it there for 3 months. In those 3 months Obed Edom and his household began to prosper in big ways, so much so that a report was made and given to David. So David makes preparations to give it a second go with the ark and he and his men again went again, but this time they transported it in the way God had originally commanded with the priests carrying it on their shoulders.
I think it’s worth it to pause here and ask ourselves, what was really going on here? What were the things David, who had already gained the favour of the Lord, needed to learn? What was God trying to communicate?
1. The ark of the Covenant – symbolic for the Presence of God – was not meant to rest on the shoulders of the strong oxen or on a man-made cart, but upon the shoulders of people who were consecrated to the Lord. The priests were different from all other men in these things:
· they did not own land
· they had to be without blemish to handle the things of God
· they represented not the political kingdom but the spiritual kingdom of God to the people and
· they made intercession for everyone else.
2. God did not need their help in “steadying the ark”. He is a living being, not an idol, He can take care of business.
3. God disciplines with reconciliation as His heart’s desire and as an invitation to us. In His mercy He only struck down Uzzah. It was terrible and awful, but it could have been so much worse as they all erred together – He could have taken out all 30,000 of them and would not have been wrong to do so. But He struck down only Uzzah to make a point – the point was not that He did not want to dwell with people, but the point was that as Creator and king, His instructions needed to be carried out. Not lazily, half-hearted or half baked, but with attention to detail. That said, the instructions were not hard. David just didn’t ask, didn’t seek. He sought the blessing of the ark, the honour of the ark, but not protocol, not the heart of God.
So David hears that God is blessing this Gittite and tries again, this time seeking God’s protocol. Sometimes God’s protocols are so simple, sometimes they are more complicated but rarely undoable because God knows what we are made of. And this time David prepares a place for the ark and pitches a tent. This reminds me of building a church…….we find a time and place.
And then David gets the Levites to carry the tent and they consecrate themselves to the Lord, and David and all the Levites wear linen ephods which speak of………
They anoint the singers and musicians and the commanders of the army and they all go up making sacrifice.
And when they get it to its place David so overjoyed that he dances in his ephod to the distress of his wife Michal and so that relationship deteriorates – it’s like the nail on the coffin of a dead relationship, and she is childless.
And people are left before the ark to minister day and night to the Presence, not to the object, but the Presence. And sacrifices, great sacrifices are made.
And it is believed that as the Levites took the ark to Jerusalem this is the song that they sang:
The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein
For He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers
God is first revealed as the Creator and He holds the rights to everything and everyone
He brooded over the waters at creation and did something impossible, establishing the earth upon sea and bordering it with rivers.
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
Who shall stand in His holy place?
David learned that it was not their “right” to ascend, because they fell short……and who could stand in the holy place? Psalm 84 the psalmists say, “Blessed are they who have set their heart on pilgrimage”……on making the journey! This was something Israel was asked to do every year in order to see atonement for their sins. There is an effort put out here. It would have been the focus of saving money, of preparing the house to be gone for an extended period. It was like the vacation destination but so much more. Another translation says Blessed are those in whose hearts are the highway to Zion. Do we love the Presence, and do we love the place where He dwells enough to make the pilgrimage? We know that it means we will pass through the Valley of Baca (place of weeping or bitterness). Will we make it a place of springs, treasure the journey?
Have you ever been with someone who carries the Presence of God in an almost tangible way?
The atmosphere changers?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart – external cleanliness – those who have observed the protocols of the law at that time. For us it could be looked at as those who have received Communion and their purity of heart reflects what they have just taken in Communion.
It’s interesting to note here that David himself was not allowed to build God a house. Why? Because he had bloodied hands. The one who was called to rule Israel had a different calling, a different role to play than the one who would come after him and build the house. When we are pastors or worship leaders, we are specifically called to represent the Kingdom of God above all other kingdoms. And so we need to be careful with how we represent him. God did not let David represent him in this way. David was the political leader who was a warrior. In the House of Prayer for all Nations, God needed that to be built by a man of peace. It had to be a man of peace, for the House was not just meant for Israel, but for everyone.
I want to challenge us here – those of you who want to be pastors and leaders in the House, are we men and women of peace first or are we warriors in the political kingdom? They are different callings……know your calling.
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. – We do not give our souls to other things if we really want to see God. We turn away from addictions of the heart, mind and body. This turning away can be called a fast. We get rid of the idols, the things that pull on us that distract us from the main focus of Jesus. This is how we establish the highways in our hearts. When we fast and pray and build history with God we are clearing away the obstacles, we are digging wells in the desert places of our hearts for the spring rains to come and nourish us, and we are removing the idols or obstacles.
What does this look like? For me, right now, today, it looks like a purity fast. Larry will be talking about fasting from food in the weeks to come, but for me it is entering into a purity fast of the eyes and ears and mouth. This brings us to the next point……..
Who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully
Who does not lift up his soul to what is false. This refers to idolatry. We are to be a people of integrity. We don’t say we are on fire for Jesus but give our souls to idols or what is false. We are congruent, not hypocritical. We do not follow our own impulses, but we love God.
I would suggest that this covers everything from sex to shopping, from eating to investing.
We do not swear deceitfully
This refers to one of the 10 commandments “do not bear false witness against your neighbour”. We do not swear deceitfully against neighbour even when it costs us.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
The blessing of being allowed in! Or…..in David’s case, he was not allowed all he wanted from the Lord, to build God a house, but God blessed him with an everlasting kingdom because of his desire for God.
And righteousness from the God of his salvation
God will provide the righteousness, but we have to make the journey to seek him. God doesn’t always give us what we want but He does allow us to stand before Him and invites us to that. God recognizes our need of salvation. What He doesn’t like to tolerate is our disrespect and lethargy. He deserves it as both our Creator, our Savior and Provider, our King.
Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
These are the earmarks of those who seek Him. They are pure, and they are blessed!
What is it with the “God of Jacob”. It’s interesting that would be the title here, not Abraham, Isaac but Jacob. Jacob was the supplanter, the deceiver, who was not pure, who did not have clean hands. But he encountered God at Bethel and wrestled with the angel until the angel finally dislocated his hip (we realize that would have been temporary right?). And Jacob was changed. God is still God of those who don’t have clean hands and pure hearts and who have sworn deceitfully and harboured idols. This is incredibly encouraging. But as we wrestle with the Lord “I want to be blessed” and He wrestles with us, “get rid of the idols” He may figuratively temporarily dislocate our hip (our ability to walk up that hill) until He has transformed us.
Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, Jerusalem had been the stronghold of the Jebusites, but now there is a new king coming thru the gates. Recognize Him – don’t miss the day of His visitation. The message to us is, “Wake up! Be alert! God is coming in visitation, let’s not miss Him!”
That the King of glory may come in -
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty
The Lord mighty in battle! - who does not want the victorious God fighting for them?
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors!
That the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts, - who does not want the Commander of Angel Armies fighting for them?
He is the King of glory - this is the One who is coming! Let’s prepare Him our hearts