Summary: In this lesson King David learns that we must learn and obey the commands of God. Unfortunately, he learns that lesson the hard way.
A. I love the old story of the man who bought a horse from the preacher.
1. The preacher told the man that it was a great old horse, but it had a few quirks.
2. The most important thing to remember is that the horse won’t go unless you say, “Praise the Lord,” and the horse won’t stop unless you say, “Amen.”
3. The new owner said, “That is clear enough, it shouldn’t be a problem. All I have to do is say ‘Praise the Lord’ and he will go, and say ‘Amen’ and he will stop.”
4. So the new owner paid the money, got on the horse, said “Praise the Lord,” and off they rode.
5. The horse galloped through the countryside and everything was going great until the horse started heading for a cliff.
6. Then it struck the new owner that he couldn’t remember how to make the horse stop.
7. Finally, at the very last second, he remembered what to say, and he hollered, “Amen!”
8. The horse came to an abrupt stop right at the edge of the cliff.
9. The new owner sat back, wiped his brow, looked toward heaven and said, “Praise the Lord!”
B. We all make our share of mistakes and some of the lessons we learn, we have to learn the hard way.
1. Today we are going to witness how King David learns a lesson the hard way.
2. It is a lesson that God’s people have had to learn in every generation, including our own.
3. But before we get to the lesson, let’s look at the story.
I. The Story
A. Last week we learned how David became the king of all of Israel in God’s good time.
1. It was 7 ½ years after Saul’s death before David became king of the entire nation.
2. God was working through David and several important things were accomplished early in David’s reign as king.
a. First of all, David united the people of Israel despite their deep divisions.
b. Second, David established a new capital in Jerusalem.
c. Third, David demonstrated his remarkable military leadership as he and his armies routed the Philistines.
3. As a sense of power and peace began to settle on David and Israel, David recognized the terrible truth that for nearly seventy years Israel had seriously neglected her spiritual life.
4. The Ark of the Lord had been almost forgotten.
5. The priesthood had been slaughtered by Saul.
6. And the people of God, like so many of the so-called Christian countries of the 20th century, were becoming more and more pagan.
B. With the help of his God, David was determined to change all this.
1. David was sure that once again, as in the days of Moses and Joshua, and the early days of Samuel, he could provide the powerful, personal leadership that would challenge Israel to seek God and serve Him in humble obedience.
2. To initiate this dramatic change, he decided that the Ark of the Lord should be brought up to Jerusalem and be put in a prominent place in the capital city.
C. The Ark of the Lord was Israel’s national treasure and its most sacred object.
1. From the tremendous days during which God had met with Moses on the burning, smoking summit of Sinai where He gave Moses the Law, the Ark carried enormous significance.
2. The Ark denoted the very presence of God as the glory of the Lord rested on the Ark.
3. And the Ark was the place of pardon and peace where the Almighty met with men at the sacred mercy seat.
4. The Ark was to be kept in the Tabernacle, in the Most Holy Place, a curtained-off location where only the High Priest would enter once a year on the Day of Atonement.
5. The Ark was so important to the Lord that He gave Moses very specific details of how to build it, what was to be in it, where it was to sit, and how it was to be transported.
D. Now is a good time to pause and describe a little more about the Ark of the Covenant.
1. We must not make the mistake of thinking that the Ark of the Covenant was like Noah’s Ark.
2. The word “ark” simply means a “box” or “chest.”
3. Noah’s Ark was a huge floating, barge-like box, whereas the Ark of the Covenant was a relatively small chest made of wood, rectangular in shape.
4. The dimensions of the Ark were about 3 ¾ feet long, and 2 ¼ feet wide and high, about the size of the average coffee table.
5. The Ark was gold-plated inside and out with a decorative gold border around it, forming a rim.