Summary: David leads his people to restart the practice of Worship.
Bring God Back to God’s People
David is now King of Israel, all twelve tribes. He has lived through his wilderness education, is back in touch with God and finally accepting his exonerated role. He is thirty years old, perhaps out of his boyhood experiences when he freely talked about God and His power, when he felt the need of his nation to rediscover God. But, how does he bring God back into the center of his country?
He may have remembered it, or heard about it, but he wanted to find and return the only physical symbol of God’s presence to his nation, the Ark of the Covenant. Faith in God, reinforced by the Ark, would unify his people and give them a central faith to withstand the idolatry of the neighboring nations.
You may remember in your Old Testament studies reading about this sacred box, the Ark of the Covenant. It was created at Sinai as the new nation led by Moses was preparing to march through the desert to their promise land. God instructed them to build an elaborate portable worship tent, the Tabernacle. In the center of that tent, in a space called “Holy of Holies,” God instructed them to build a portable altar. It was a sturdy box, three feet nine inches long and two feet three inches wide. It held three symbols of their new nation: a gold jar of manna, their free meal delivered daily, a walking stick that continue to bud after it was cut down and the original stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. The lid of this box, made of gold, was the altar for sacrifices. On each end was a cherubim, an angelic statue symbolizing that God was watching what happened on that altar. It was to be carried by using poles on each side and lifted by four priests. It was not to be touched except by the chief priest.
That box, the Ark of the Covenant, represented the presence and guidance of God for their journey. Over the Ark, high enough for all to see, was a cloud visible each day and a pillar of fire throughout the night. As they marched, the cloud moved with them. When they camped each night, the pillar of fire assured them of God’s faithful presence.
They had journeyed with the Ark through the wilderness to their promise land, waited with their kinsmen and the Ark while they waited forty years to enter their promise land. They had marched across the Jordon River into that new land with the Ark, around Jericho to conquer the city with the Ark and into their new land with the Ark.
In that new land they went to their assigned area with their tribe, fought the enemy, farmed the land and raised their families. The Ark of the Covenant, and the Tabernacle, was given a place to stay but most people forgot about it. They were too busy, too preoccupied, to travel. While the tribe of Levi cared for it, most of the tribes and their people trusted them to do that and felt no need to visit. It was a thing of their past, not of their present.
Does that sound similar to our religious practices today? In our busy life, how important is the practice of our faith? In our older generations, it was important to “join the church,” perhaps even build a faith relationship with Jesus, but that is not important to the majority of our people. Our younger people do not even understand that tradition. Many of them have never been to church. Most of them see no value to having God in their lives.
David wanted to bring the Ark of the Covenant to the capital city, Jerusalem, and develop a practice of worship and living that would honor God. He had discovered in his wilderness days how important it was to connect and obey God. He discovered the Ark was only seven miles from the capital city. You see, the ark that resided among the tribes had been discovered and used by King Saul as a “good luck charm.” He was going out in battle with the dreaded Philistines. Fearing defeat, he ordered that the Ark be brought to him and to lead his army in battle. Saul was defeated, the Ark captured by the Philistines. They took the Ark home with them but it only brought a curse for them causing their idols to be broken and their people cursed. In desperation, the Philistines brought the Ark back into the land of Israel to the home of a simple priest. There the Ark of the Covenant blessed that home in miraculous ways.
Can we reflect about how the presence of God can bless our lives? Today, God is not in a box that we can put on the shelf or store in the attic. God’s presence today is His spirit, the spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit. His presence is not limited to a box, a building, practices or traditions. God is present and present tense, a work in our lives and our world and cannot be contained. He can be neglected, avoided, forgotten in our personal lives, in our good churches and in our culture. How do we bring God back into our lives, our churches, our country, and our cultures?