Tipping the Ark

by Donald W. Raub

On two occasions the newly-crowned King David attempted to move the Ark of the Covenant from a neighboring town in Judah to the "City of David." The first attempt ended in failure, the second was a resounding success. David, who was loved by God, was in charge both times-so why the difference?

On both occasions David's heartfelt desire was to bring home the Ark of the Covenant. This was not a selfish desire, for David was well aware that the Ark represented the "Presence" of God among the people of Israel. He also knew that God's blessings accompanied the Ark as long as the required conditions were met. I believe that David sincerely wanted God's blessings on the nation as well as on himself. However, he made some serious mistakes which resulted in tragedy. Let us note the following:

1. David failed to consult God.

The first attempt was made after consulting with the military leaders and the "congregation of Israel" (1 Chron. 13:1,2). God was mentioned but not consulted. The people thought it was the right thing to do (v. 4), so David went ahead without asking God for guidance. There are many things that may be right for the Christian to do, but how many times we fail simply because we do not consult God.

2. ‑David failed to meet
God's conditions.

The Levites were to purify themselves in preparation to move the Ark, but on the first attempt they did not do so. God still requires "holy hands" to carry His gospel message to a lost world. The Presence of God was so awesome, that no one except those with clean hands and hearts were to be involved. Because this was not done, God brought things to a halt.

3. ‑David failed to use
the proper mode of
transportation.

The Ark was to be carried on human shoulders. Instead, David had it moved "in a new cart" pulled by oxen (vv. 7,9). The work of God has been assigned to humans. God wants it that way. When the human factor is removed, the Great Commission given to the disciples by Jesus, is seriously compromised. The gospel message can be effective only when we "shoulder" the responsibilities given us.

4. ‑David failed to
instruct his people.

The Ark was not to be touched. Poles for carrying were placed through rings which had been attached to the Ark. However, when they came to the "threshing floor of Chidon," the oxen shook the Ark, and Uzza reached out to keep it from tipping. He died instantly (v. 10). Uzza's motive may have been sincere, but he was sincerely wrong. His human solution to correct an incident brought on by wrong-doing could not be justified in the eyes of a Holy God.

David was so shocked by God's judgment that he was afraid to continue the journey. The Ark was placed in the house of Obed-edom where it remained for three months (v. 14). But that is not the end of the story. A second attempt was made which did end successfully.

1. ‑David prepared a special place for the Ark (v. 15:1).

The Presence of God requires a special place in the life of the believer. David now recognized the importance of putting God first in his life. Instead of haphazardly bringing the Ark home, David now knew it must be done God's way. How many people serve God in a careless manner, hoping that God will bless them anyway?

2. David instructed the people.

"None ought to carry the Ark of God but the Levites" (v. 15:2). We like to preach a positive gospel and in the process neglect the negative aspects. There are many "do nots" in the Bible which we would do well to heed. David now instructed as God had commanded.

3. ‑The Levites sanctified themselves ceremonially (v. 14).

David reminded them (v. 13) that because of their failure to do so, God had interrupted the first attempt to bring the Ark home. This time they obeyed and were successful.

4. God helped them (v. 26).

Obedience brings the blessings of God.

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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