We continue our journey with the Ark by looking at what happened to the Ark of the Covenant when David became king. Bear in mind that the Ark represented Yahweh dwelling among His people. At first glance one could say David found the Ark and restored the Ark to its rightful place in Israel. He brought if from obscurity to his new capital city Jerusalem. Yet David not restore the Ark, he did something radical. We know that the Ark was designed to dwell in the Holy of Holies inside the Tabernacle of Moses (Ex. 40:34-38). In fact when the Tabernacle of Moses was assembled for the first time His glory came and for the rest of the journey in the wilderness the movements of the nation were governed by the movement of His glory!
34 Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 36 Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the LORD was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. Exodus 40:34-38 (NKJV)
This was an amazing place and time, yet David discovered something deeper. Have you ever felt driven to do something and felt you could not rest until it was accomplished? David had a deep insatiable longing in his heart. He was hungry for the Ark, for Yahweh’s presence.
Yet David had some challenges in satisfying this internal longing. 2 Samuel 6 describes what happened. First they tried to bring the Ark up on an ox cart and Uzzah died. Uzzah had grown up with the Ark as it had been in his father’s house for at least twenty years and he and his brother were driving the ox cart. Yet he did not seem to grasp the significance of Yahweh’s presence and when he touched the Ark he died. David presumptuously thought that if they worshipped while they traveled with it Yahweh would be pleased, He was not! These were His covenant people and Moses had taught them how to worship Him and hallow His name yet this was not being done.
After his aborted attempt to bring up the Ark David was both angry at Yahweh and afraid (2 Sam. 6:8-9). It would be good to pause and reflect on how we view His glory. David took time to pause and reflect. He left the Ark in Obed-Edom’s house for three months while he decided what to do. David still had his hunger for Yahweh’s presence so he prepared a tent for the Ark to dwell in and then looked at how to transport the Ark (the tent will become important later). He realized the problem lay with him and instructed the Levites to carry it as instructed by Moses.
13 For because you did not do it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.” 14 So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel. 15 And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD. 16 Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy. 1 Chronicles 15:13-16 (NKJV)
David again incorporated worship and also included sacrifices.
26 And so it was, when God helped the Levites who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that they offered seven bulls and seven rams. 27 David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who bore the ark, the singers, and Chenaniah the music master with the singers. David also wore a linen ephod. 1 Chronicles 15:26-27 (NKJV)
What is instructive in this passage is the meaning of the seven bulls and seven rams. As a number in scripture seven usually represents completeness, for example seven days complete a week. The other significance is the bulls were a sin offering and the rams a trespass offering (see Lev. Chapters 4-5). David realized he had sinned and trespassed against Yahweh in his presumption and enthusiasm.
The next step in the process is very important. Many believe Psalm 24 was sung when David brought the Ark into Jerusalem. It is below in its entirety.
1 A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’S, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters. 3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah 7 Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah Psalm 24:1-10 (NKJV)
This Psalm depicts a conquering King coming to His people. Read it and reflect on the power of the language,
- King of glory
- Strong and mighty
- Mighty in battle
This language and Psalm make sense of what is described in 2 Samuel 6:16-23. There David danced half naked before the Ark in abandoned worship. His wife Michal, the daughter of Saul, despised his behaviour because she knew what it represented. In the culture of the day a conquering king would parade his captives or a conquered king naked before his people as he came into the city. In this procession David passionately danced before the Ark in abandonment to the King coming behind him, the One dwelling between the cherubim on the Ark, and by his actions declared, “I am His captive, He is the true King in Jerusalem.”
What do our lives declare about our devotion to His Lordship?