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Summary: Gleaning lessons from King David's gaffe over the transportation of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem on an Ox cart instead of letting it be carried by the Priests!!!

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When a moralistic mission misfired!!!

Heard of anecdotes when something done with an apparently good intention but in a wrong way went haywire? Here’s one for starters...

Who can forget a school time story told often to emphasize the importance of proper usage of punctuation marks? It is said that on account of a last-minute Presidential pardon, a convict’s death sentence by hanging was slashed. But unfortunately due to improper usage of a comma, the wired message (sent in a hurry with a life at stake) to the Prison where this convict was to be executed read “Hang him, not release him”. instead of the supposed “Hang him not, release him”.

Coming to the spiritual realm...St. Jerome, the patron saint of translators, studied Hebrew so he could translate the Old Testament into Latin from the original, instead of from the third century Greek version that everyone else had used. The resulting Latin version known as The Vulgate, which became the basis for hundreds of subsequent translations, contained a famous mistake. When Moses comes down from Mount Sinai his head has "radiance" or, in Hebrew, "karan." But Hebrew is written without the vowels, and St. Jerome had read "karan" as "keren" or "horned." From this error came centuries of paintings and sculptures of Moses with horns (even the great renaissance artist Michael Angelo sculpted Moses with a horn) and the odd offensive stereotype of the “horned Jew”.

While at best (or worst...Sic) the resultant damage may have been limited to some Jewish sentiments getting rubbed the wrong way courtesy this semantic error of that great Saint, there was nothing catastrophic such as loss of life nor was any incumbent King left with an egg on his face, so to say. Now welcome to the Biblical story which resulted in just that!!! Consider David’s gaffe over transporting the Ark of the Covenant (1 Chro 13:1-14) from Kiriath-Jearim to Jerusalem in an ox- cart instead of on the shoulders of Priestly Kohathites!!! It is an altogether different story as to why the Ark which symbolized both God’s presence and His Covenantal relationship with Israel landed in Kiriath-Jearim in the first place when it ought to have been in the “The Most Holy Place” (a separate Chamber) of the Tabernacle which was at Gibeon. Incidentally the story of Tabernacle itself moving to Gibeon from its original place of erection in Shiloh (Joshua 18:1) is a gargantuan subject in itself. Amongst others’, the subject would lead us to a topic culminating in a fascinating time in Israel’s history, when they had two High Priests’ simultaneously for the first and final time (one in Gibeon and the other at Jerusalem-1 Kings 4:4). Yours truly would endeavour to throw light on both the subjects’ some other time but in this message, he aims to glean some lessons only from a moralistic mission of David gone awry using some alliteration (sub-headings beginning with “M”... what else?) in order we of this generation are better served in paying proper attention to our Lord’s instructions (1 Cor 10:11)...

Miss-out...

Till this goof-up, one of the outstanding characteristics of the man of God’s own heart (Read David-1 Sam 13:14/Acts 13:22) had been to “enquire of the Lord”, often. A careful study of the Scriptures would reveal that till this “spiritual blunder”, David had enquired of the Lord (when faced with different challenges) not less than 6 times (1 Sam 23:2,4/30:8/2 Sam 2:1/5:19,23). But sadly, before embarking on this “noble” mission of bringing the Ark of the Covenant to the permanent “home of God” (read Jerusalem where Temple would soon be constructed-Psalm 132:13-14) instead of Gibeon (only a temporary place for the Lord’s presence in dispensation of Law) there is no mention of this great King “enquiring of the Lord”, though the Scripture says that he “consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader” (1 Chro 13:1). If seeking the Lord’s opinion seemed too much of an ask for David, then ideally instead of military leaders, it would have served him well, to consult the Levitical leaders in what was predominantly a spiritual matter before taking the “final call” on the subject, so to speak. Talk of consulting a Nephrologist to discuss your kidney problem rather than a Cardiologist...

Sadly, David it would seem missed out on the obvious of seeking the right answer from the right source!!! While the saying the work well begun is half-done is true, the converse of it is also equally true...work not well begun, is half-done for!!! Say Servant of God, are you prayerfully enquiring of the Lord before launching out on any noble mission purportedly carried out for His Glory?

Miscalculation...

The obvious offshoot of neither prayerfully looking unto the Lord before embarking on a major spiritual mission nor seeking the Levitical guidance resulted in a gross miscalculation on David’s part of going by recent history (the Philistines had transported the Ark in a Cow-driven cart-1 Sam 6:1-14) instead of Scriptures. Yes, the Philistines who were ignorant of the Biblical precepts on Ark transportation (Numbers 4:15/7:19) were divinely excused but how could the Covenantal people to whom the Law was given plead innocence or ignorance in this vital issue (Luke 12:48)? No way!!! Divine anger was only waiting to spill over and it did when...

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