1 Chronicles 13:1-14 (Part 2) – Taking Shortcuts Around Obedience

Posted: March 23, 2020 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 13:1-14 (Part 2 of 6)

David Attempts to Move the Ark

Have you ever tried to take a shortcut in doing something and it ended up causing you more work? In that situation, if you had just taken the time to do it right the first time, you would have had less work overall. I remember when I was a pre-teen back in the early 70’s, Alice Cooper was the big name musical artist in rock ‘n’ roll. He was huge back in those days. In the days before online ticket ordering services where tickets are sold out online long before they go on sale in brick and mortar locations, his concert opening day ticket sales would produce long, long lines at the ticket offices of the venues he was to play at. His shows were always sold out. Although he was a heavy metal artist, his lyrics were insightful at times, playful at times, but always well-written. His live shows were to say the least entertaining. He was big in the early 70’s through the late 70’s when disco took over. So, when I was around 10 or 11, though I loved his music, I was not old enough to go see him in concert.

One night though, he was going to be on the Grammy Awards show performing live. We had this little black and white TV on the kitchen counter. I was going to watch the Grammys there on that TV because dad didn’t want to “listen to all that racket” – referring to the heavy metal music of the era that was the dominant art form in rock n roll at the time. So, right as the Grammys were coming on, my dad asked me if I had taken my bath. I said no because I was waiting to see Alice Cooper on television. He said he didn’t care and that it was the same time of night every night that I had to take my bath, Alice Cooper or not. Well, me being me, bath be damned, I was seeing Alice Cooper. So, I went to the bathroom and ran the littlest amount of water in the tub as possible and took the quickest bath that a 10-year old has ever taken. I then ran back to the little TV in the kitchen and sat down. Phew. I had not missed Alice Cooper. Every commercial was saying things like “Up Next…blah, and blah, and Alice Cooper” or “still to come…blah and blah and blah and Alice Cooper!” However, my father knew that I had taken very liberal shortcuts with my bathing that night. He said there was no way that I could have bathed that fast. So, he made me go do it all over again. He supervised the running of the water – which seemed to take FOREVER! He then watched as I got in the tub and watched as I started the whole bathing routine. He said then as he was leaving the bathroom that he did not want to see me coming out of there for at least 10 minutes. I want you to be fully clean when you get out of the tub, he said. It was torture to have to go through the full routine, fearing that I would miss Alice Cooper’s live performance. Sure enough, when I got back to the little TV in the kitchen, they were just cutting away from Alice Cooper and the band and back to the emcee for the Grammy Awards show. I had missed it. I was crushed. I was angry at Dad and I was angry at myself. If I had just taken a good bath the first time, I would have not missed my favorite rock n roll artist at that time in my life.

With that idea of just doing things right the first time, let’s explore that aspect of this scene in 1 Chronicles 13:1-14 after we read it now:

3 David consulted with all his officials, including the generals and captains of his army.[a] 2 Then he addressed the entire assembly of Israel as follows: “If you approve and if it is the will of the Lord our God, let us send messages to all the Israelites throughout the land, including the priests and Levites in their towns and pasturelands. Let us invite them to come and join us. 3 It is time to bring back the Ark of our God, for we neglected it during the reign of Saul.”

4 The whole assembly agreed to this, for the people could see it was the right thing to do. 5 So David summoned all Israel, from the Shihor Brook of Egypt in the south all the way to the town of Lebo-hamath in the north, to join in bringing the Ark of God from Kiriath-jearim. 6 Then David and all Israel went to Baalah of Judah (also called Kiriath-jearim) to bring back the Ark of God, which bears the name[b] of the Lord who is enthroned between the cherubim. 7 They placed the Ark of God on a new cart and brought it from Abinadab’s house. Uzzah and Ahio were guiding the cart. 8 David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, singing songs and playing all kinds of musical instruments—lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets.

9 But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon,[c] the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark. 10 Then the Lord’s anger was aroused against Uzzah, and he struck him dead because he had laid his hand on the Ark. So Uzzah died there in the presence of God.

11 David was angry because the Lord’s anger had burst out against Uzzah. He named that place Perez-uzzah (which means “to burst out against Uzzah”), as it is still called today.

12 David was now afraid of God, and he asked, “How can I ever bring the Ark of God back into my care?” 13 So David did not move the Ark into the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-edom of Gath. 14 The Ark of God remained there in Obed-edom’s house for three months, and the Lord blessed the household of Obed-edom and everything he owned.

In this passage, we see that David had consulted with all his officials but he neglected to ask God. The advice of our friends and colleagues, while it can be valuable, is not substitute for seeking God’s direction. The next time David tried to bring the Ark to Jerusalem, he was careful to handle it correctly.

Instead of handling the Ark as it was supposed to have been handled (as directed by God), David had the Ark put on a cart, following the Philistine example rather than following God’s specific instructions. Uzzah’s act, though sincere, was out of compliance with God’s commands and therefore he suffered. David was angry that a well-meaning man had been killed and that his plans for a joyous return of the Ark had been spoiled. He, for sure, knew that it was his fault for taking a shortcut and not handling the Ark properly. After cooling down, he had the Ark put in temporary storage while he waited to see if the Lord would allow him to bring it to Jerusalem. This also gave David time to consider the proper way, the God-directed way, to transport the Ark. If David had simply obeyed God’s commands on the handling of the Ark the first time, Uzzah would not have died. The Ark carried the Holy Presence of God and thus could not be touched by anything unholy (as man is) lest it be consumed. David knew this as good as anybody, but he listened to others and wanted to get the Ark to Jerusalem quickly. He took a shortcut. He did not obey God’s Word.

Aren’t we like that sometimes, we try to take shortcuts around God’s Word just to get what we want? Let us examine ourselves for the ways that we are taking shortcuts around obeying God and justifying it because we want this or we want that. Let us remember God’s Word is not suggestions. Let us remember that we are called to be obedient to God’s Word even when it is not convenient to what we want. Let us remember to be obedient to God’s Word even when our culture tells us to take a shortcut around it. Let us be obedient when God’s Word is considered out of step and out of sync with the culture. Let us be an obedient people who take no shortcuts around our obedience to God’s Word. Let us not be like 10 year old Mark who took a shortcut with his bath, had to do it over, and missed his favorite musical artist. Let us just simply obey God’s Word the first time around and not have to backtrack through the consequences of disobedience.

Amen and Amen.

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