Bible Order: Psalms 32–35
Chronological Order: Proverbs 27-29
New Testament Only: John 18:25–40
Seek Him According To His Rule
Though I did not comment on it, we read yesterday of David attempting to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. That attempt ended in disaster.
1 Chronicles 13:9-12 ESV
“And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to take hold of the ark, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God. And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzza to this day. And David was afraid of God that day, and he said, “How can I bring the ark of God home to me?”
Why did God strike Uzzah dead for touching the Ark? We discover the answer in today’s reading. Let’s begin by looking at how the project to bring the Ark to Jerusalem began.
1 Chronicles 13:1-4 ESV
“David consulted with the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with every leader. And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and from the Lord our God, let us send abroad to our brothers who remain in all the lands of Israel, as well as to the priests and Levites in the cities that have pasturelands, that they may be gathered to us. Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.” All the assembly agreed to do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.”
The idea sounds good doesn’t it? God brought the Israelites to the Promised Land for the expressed purpose of residing with them. That was the entire purpose of the temple and the Ark, and all the careful and explicit instructions on how to worship and handle the holy things of God. It seems right that the Ark, which represented the presence of God among His people should be brought to the heart of the nation’s capital; don’t you think? Well, David and the people thought so; “for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.”
In the passage quoted above do you see any reference to God’s instructions? Did they seek God’s direction? No. The thing seemed right in their own eyes, and so they set out to make it so. That was their first mistake. I have, in the past, praised David for seeking God in almost everything he did. This is one of the moments when he didn’t. As usually happened when David didn’t seek God’s guidance, tragedy followed.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really think that their intentions were the problem. The problem is their attitude. If they had sought God, He would have instructed them, or rather reminded them, of the proper way to handle the Ark. In their zeal to “do something for the Lord” they put themselves in the driver’s seat and foolishly ignored God’s directions. You are going to drive right off a cliff every time you do that. Notice David’s response to the death of Uzzah. They were going along, doing things in their own power, celebrating, rejoicing, and pow – death! David was angry and afraid.
I wonder how we would feel. We’re going along, praising God the way we see fit; doing things in the way that seems right to ourselves and pow – trouble! Wouldn’t we be angry and possibly a little afraid? We thought we had this thing figured out. God wants us to praise Him and we were doing that! It isn’t fair! If He strikes us for praising Him how can we feel safe? How can we know when to praise and when not to?
Those questions are natural but the inquiry is focused in the wrong direction. How do we come to God? Do we come on our own terms? Do we worship and praise and relate to God as seems right in our own eyes? My friends you can go to church every day; you can be the nicest person on the planet; you can give all you have to those less fortunate than yourself, but if you do it all on your terms instead of God’s you are headed toward death.
The Bible keeps teaching us, over and over again, that it all starts with the heart. Doing the right things is of no value. Having a heart surrendered to God; that seeks His will and His direction in everything IS everything. When your heart is right you will WANT to do the right things as a natural out-pouring of that heart.
David was really close here but if He had read up on God’s Word or sought His council he would have realized that God had said, in the Law of Moses, that only those of a specific tribe of Levi can handle the Ark. You don’t get to blow off God’s Word just because you are doing something “for the Lord” at your own instigation and in your own power. If David had prayerfully read God’s word on a regular basis He would have known the right way to go about doing the right thing.
David had to leave the Ark and go away and think this deal over. Between the first attempt and the second David has done his homework. He went to God’s Word and he sought guidance and he got the answer. Here is what David said to the Levites as he begins the second, and finally successful, attempt to bring the Ark to Jerusalem.
1 Chronicles 15:13 ESV
“Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.”
Because we did not seek Him according to the rule! We cannot seek God and His will and His blessing according to our own rules or way of doing things. We are not in the driver’s seat. You cannot say to God, I will come this far and no further. You cannot say “God here is what I’m going to do for you today and I’m going to do it the way I want.” There is no good deed, no good act that you can do “for God”. You must come before God on your knees, acknowledging, not your own power, but His. You must humbly place yourself at His service and not your own. You must acknowledge Him in all your ways and lean not on your own understanding.
When we come before Him humbly, seeking His will and purpose we can do so with great joy. It is no burden to surrender all to Him. I have got to tell you guys, when I write this blog in my power it is a real burden; the thing just drags on and on, but when I pray beforehand, seeking His will and asking that He guide my heart and my head, this blog becomes a daily joy; something I would hate to miss. You know guys, the things I write admonishing better behavior and relationship with God are things God is telling me I need to do better myself. It is my hope that God is speaking to you as He is speaking to me through the process of reading the Bible together.
Let’s commit ourselves brothers to do things God’s way; to seek Him and His ways first. Let us do all according to His rule instead of our own. By doing so we lay down the heavy burden and the painful consequences of living in a perverted world and start to experience the joy and freedom God intends for us to have. Seek Him first according to His rule!
Have a blessed day!
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!
(Originally posted 5/9/10)