1 Chronicles 13:1-14:17; Romans 1:10-17; Psalms 10:1-6; Proverbs 4:7-10
OT: “David consulted with all his leaders, the commanders of hundreds and of thousands… “Then let’s bring back the ark of our God, for we did not inquire of him in Saul’s days.” Since the proposal seemed right to all the people, the whole assembly agreed to do it. So David assembled all Israel, from the Shihor of Egypt to the entrance of Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim… At Abinadab’s house they set the ark of God on a new cart. Uzzah and Ahio were guiding the cart. David and all Israel were dancing with all their might before God with songs and with lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets. When they came to Chidon’s threshing floor, Uzzah reached out to hold the ark because the oxen had stumbled. Then the Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him dead because he had reached out to the ark. So he died there in the presence of God… David feared God that day and said, “How can I ever bring the ark of God to me?” So David did not bring the ark of God home to the city of David; instead, he diverted it to the house of Obed-edom of Gath.” (1 Chronicles 13:1, 3-5, 7-10, 12-13 CSB)
Before Saul was made king… when Samuel was still a young boy, the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines in battle. The Ark brought nothing but trouble for the Philistines, so they placed the Ark on an ox cart and sent it away. The oxen brought the Ark to the Israeli town of Kiriath-jearim. The Ark remained there for several decades – the last 2, in the house of Abinadab. For all of David’s life up to that point, the Ark was hidden away in someone’s house and unavailable for public worship. David was not content for the Ark to remain hidden away. He wanted to return it to it’s designated place in public worship, and he wanted it nearby so that he would have ready access to God’s presence. There was nothing wrong with David’s desire to have the Ark near him. What was wrong was his casual attitude toward it. David had spent much of his life developing an intimate relationship with the Lord God. I wonder if David’s familiarity with God led to his casual attitude. Instead of treating the Ark with the honor and respect it deserved… instead of transporting it on the shoulders of the anointed priests in the way specifically prescribed by God, David threw the Ark on an ox cart – just as the pagan Philistines had done. True worship is not just about familiarity and intimacy with God. It also involves reverential fear and respect. God is loving and merciful. He is patient and slow to anger. He is also holy, and we must regard Him as such, or we fail to truly worship Him. If we simply view God as our best friend and not as our Holy Heavenly Father, then we risk viewing His commandments as suggestions and His will and ways as optional. God has prescribed and described the way to worship Him, and in order to truly worship Him and abide in His Holiness, we must not deviate and begin worshipping Him in ways that are convenient for us. The electricity that flows within our homes is powerful and extremely helpful – but if we don’t treat it with proper respect, it can be dangerous and even deadly. That’s what happened to Uzzah – he didn’t handle the power of God’s presence and glory in the proper way… because David had lost a level of healthy respect for God’s holiness through familiarity. We need to be careful to not make the same mistake David made. Now that we live in the era of grace through faith in Christ, we must make sure that we do not take God’s grace for granted and presume that we can concoct our own convenient ways of approaching God and handling His power and glory.
NT: “I am obligated both to Greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:14-17 CSB)
I remember using this scripture as the basis of a presentation of the gospel to a group of men living in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Those men were in that rehab facility because they were aware, at some level, that they were powerless to change… and that drugs and/or alcohol had power over them. I told them that I had a gift for them – and that gift was a gift of enormous power: the power of God. I then went on to describe the power of God. God’s power is unlike any power on earth. Men use dynamite to blast through mountains that stand in their way… men use massive bombs to win decisive victories in war… but none of those powerful tools can even come close to matching the power of God. Not only does God have the power to flatten mountains and decisively defeat the most menacing enemies – He has power to create life and sustain it forever. The gospel is no trivial thing… it is not a powerless imagination of our minds or an empty hope within our soul. The gospel is the power of God for salvation. The same power that created the universe… the same power that spoke the sun into existence… the same power that breathed life into every living creature on earth… the same power that overcame the certainty of death to bring Jesus back to life again – that same power resides in the words of the Gospel that we share. As soon as someone believes the gospel, the power of God is released in their life to flatten the most insurmountable mountains, defeat the most tenacious enemy, and bring new abundant, overcoming, and everlasting life to a once-dead soul. That power is available to anyone – and we as Jesus’ disciples, have the privilege of proclaiming those words of power to people who need it most. The gospel is nothing to be ashamed about. If we truly understood the power that we wield when we share the gospel, I image we would share it more often. That afternoon, I gave those men in the rehab facility an opportunity to receive a gift of power – and almost every man that was present believed the words that I spoke… and as soon as they believed, the power of God filled their life to save them to the uttermost. Let’s not treat the things of God casually – but give them the honor and respect they deserve – and may we see people saved, set free, and brought into new life as a result.