Summary: Another visit into the life of David to encourage people to examine their own lives for areas where they are pursuing false “freedom” and to pursue real freedom within God’s design for living.
Today is the 2nd installment in this series from the life of David. If you’re following the Scriptures, you’re going to notice we’re skipping more than we’re looking at. And, you’re going to notice that once again, David is like us – in his life there are shining moments, and there are flaming failures. There are times when David really is living up to the way God described him – a man after God’s own heart – a man who’s really in tune with what God wants and who carries it through. Then there are the times when he just doesn’t seem to concern himself with what God wants.
I’d like to point out 2 different ways God tells us what He wants us to do - 2 voices through which God pronounces His will: precepts and principles.
Precepts are found especially in the OT. They’re direct commands, sometimes to a specific person or people or time. For instance, the 10 commandments – God gave these to Israel. They’re specific and part of the 613 commands of the Old Covenant. The Jews were to keep these by the letter, but behind them are the principles that not only the Jews were supposed to keep, but you and I as well. When a sign says “Speed limit 35 MPH,” that’s a precept. Now, behind that precept is a principle, “Drive at a safe speed.”
Jesus gave a precept, a very direct, specific command, to a rich young ruler who was wanting to know what he should do for eternal life: “Go, sell all that you have and give it to the poor, then come follow Me.” That’s a precept. It was a specific command, given for that rich young man’s specific situation in life, but the principle behind it applies to all of us: Make following Jesus a priority over material stuff.
Too often we live like not having a long list of precepts means God hasn’t told us what to do. The Lord doesn’t give me a precept about the job I’m supposed to work at, but He does give me principles that tell me that job needs to be something other than being a drug dealer or a prostitute. Nowhere did the Bible ever say, “Sherm is supposed to date and marry Carrie Hart,” but it did tell me what kind of woman to look for, how to relate to her, and how marriage is supposed to look.
Understanding the difference between principles and precepts is important, especially if we’re going to take anything home from the story we’re going to be looking at today. It’s a story about God’s precepts and principles and what happens when we do or don’t keep them.
You remember the story of David and the Ark, don’t you? Yes, that’s David and the ark…
(I. God Gives Them… )
It actually starts a long time before when God told Moses to build an ark – “box.” The instructions were very specific – in other words, it was a precept. It was to be made of acacia wood, and would have been about 19 cubic feet, almost 4 X 2 ½.” It was to be covered with gold inside and out. It had to be special. It would house the stone tablets containing the 10 Commandments. On the top were 2 gold cherubim (angels), facing each other, with their wings spread upward and touching each other on the tips. This part of the Ark, called the “Mercy Seat,” is where God would display His actual presence. In Exodus 25 He told Moses, “There I will meet with you…”
There was one other feature to the Ark – 4 rings made of gold; one on each corner, and 2 long poles covered with gold and set inside the rings to carry the Ark. The poles were never to be removed. In fact, when the Ark is placed in Solomon’s temple, the poles stuck out
Now, this was a lot of detail, but it mattered very much, because the Ark was the core of Jewish worship. Every year, faithful Jewish men would travel to Jerusalem because there, in Jerusalem was the temple, and there, in the temple, was the innermost place called the Holy of Holies, and there, inside the Holy of Holies, was the Ark – God’s presence. It doesn’t surprise me that God gives some very specific instructions about that Ark.
Understand – God has given us all precepts and principles by which to live. They touch on every area of life
• who we marry and what our marriage should be like
• how children should relate to parents, and parents should relate to children
• our thought life
• the words we speak
• what we place before our eyes
• how we should do our work