2 Samuel 6:1
When thou hearest the sound of marching... then is the Lord gone out before thee, etc. (Revised Version). The Philistines were a brave and determined people, not easily beaten. Repulsed and scattered "as the breach of waters," they reunite and return. David, inquiring of God, receives directions differing from those given him on the former occasion. He is instructed not to "go up" to the higher ground occupied by the Philistines, but to make a circuit to their rear, where was a plantation, and when he hears a sound as of marching on the tops of the trees, then to attack the foe with spirit and energy, knowing that God was gone before to give him certain victory. The enemies of the Christian and the Church are similarly persistent, and must be assailed and defeated over and over again. Indeed, the conflict is continuous. There are, however, certain times when we are specially to "bestir" ourselves, with assurance of conquest; and these are often indicated by special signs that the supernatural powers are "marching" on to lead us and give us success.

I. IN RESPECT TO THE WHOLE CHRISTIAN WARFARE AND WORK, THE SUPERNATURAL EVENTS BY WHICH OUR RELIGION WAS INAUGURATED MAY BE THUS REGARDED. In the incarnation of the Son of God, his supernatural revelations, the miracles of his life, death, resurrection, and ascension, in the all-sufficient sacrifice he offered for sin, and in the descent and operations of the Holy Spirit, God went before his people to lead them on to victory. They were not for the men of that age only, but for all ages. We, recalling them to mind, may ever take courage in the assurance that we are following where God has led and still leads. Evermore they remain as calls to us to "bestir" ourselves with confidence of success; the eternal motives to energy and hope; the eternal armoury, too, from which we draw the offensive and defensive arms we need in the war.

II. IN RESPECT TO OUR OWN PERSONAL SALVATION, THERE ARE AT TIMES SPECIAL INDICATIONS THAT GOD IS GOING BEFORE US TO GIVE US SPECIAL HELP AND BLESSING. We ought not, indeed, to wait for these. The knowledge of our duty, the memory of Christ, the promise of Divine aid, the experiences of the past, constitute sufficient reasons for habitual diligence, prayer, and hope; and special inspirations may be most confidently expected by such as are thus ever "exercising themselves unto godliness," ever striving against evil and for the attainment of greater good. But there are moments of peculiar sensibility which afford peculiarly favourable opportunities and special calls to "bestir" ourselves that we may secure the blessings which they promise. Startling events which deeply move the conscience and heart; personal afflictions which compel retirement and produce impressions favourable to religious exercises; bereavements which bring face to face with death; losses which make the uncertainty and insufficiency of earthly good felt; sermons which unusually touch the heart; earnest appeals of a friend which produce deep emotion; whatever, in a word, brings God and eternity, Christ and salvation, nearer, and creates a sense of their supreme importance, whatever excites a craving for a higher good, are signs that God is working for us, and calls to "bestir" ourselves by special meditation, prayer, etc. We may at such seasons obtain more spiritual blessing in an hour than at others in a month.

III. IN RESPECT TO THE WARFARE AND WORK OF THE CHURCH FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD, THERE ARE SIMILAR SIGNS FROM HEAVEN ADAPTED TO STIMULATE AND ENCOURAGE. Such are:

1. Remarkable openings made for the entrance of the gospel. The operations of Divine providence preparing a way for the operations of Divine grace. These may be on a small scale, laying open to Christian effort an individual, a family, or a neighbourhood; or on a large scale, opening a continent crowded with scores of millions of the human race. The discoveries of travellers, and the removal of barriers and obstacles by military conquests, are thus to be regarded. India, China, Japan, and Africa furnish instances of God going before his people, and calling on them to "bestir" themselves and follow whither he leads.

2. Impressions favourable to religion. In one person, or in a family, a congregation, a town, or a nation. Impressions by sickness, by war, pestilence, or other calamities; or by signal displays of the Divine goodness. By these God goes before, and prepares the way for his people to publish more diligently and earnestly the gospel, with good assurance of success.

3. Unusual religious earnestness in Christians themselves. Extraordinary emotions of love and zeal towards God and Christ and the souls of men, and of longing to rescue the perishing and enlarge the Church, however they may have been excited, are to be regarded as the yearnings of God's Spirit in the Christian heart, and as calls and encouragements to exertion. The sign that God is working and leading his people to victory is more conspicuous when these emotions are shared by many.

4. Successes in the Christian war summon to new efforts and encourage the hope of new successes. They show that God is working, and assure us that he will continue to work with his faithful servants. - G.W.







And David arose and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah to bring up from thence the Ark of God.
In order to understand the full meaning of this transaction, it will be necessary to recall what the Ark was, and what was the occasion due the significance of its removal from Shiloh, and its long-continued absence from the sanctuary from that time forward. Immediately after the formal ratification of the covenant between Jehovah and Israel at Mount Sinai (Exodus 24), by sacrifice and the sacred meal partaken of by the representatives of the people in God's immediate presence, Moses was directed to come up into the mountain, and receive God's covenants. And the first direction given was for the preparation of a sanctuary that Jehovah might dwell among them (Exodus 25:8); and the first thing appointed to be made for this purpose was the Ark (v. Exodus 25:10) with its mercy-seat (v. Exodus 25:17), of which the Lord said to Moses (v. Exodus 25:22), "There I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubim, which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel." Nothing had as yes been said about the tabernacle, or the altar, or sacrifices, or the priesthood. All this was secondary and subordinate to the first essential matter, which was the presence of God Himself as represented and pledged in the Ark. The tabernacle was to contain the Ark, and it was the house of God, not merely because it was dedicated to sacred uses, but because He who had graciously linked his presence with the Ark dwelt in it. When, therefore, the ungodliness of Israel and the gross iniquity of Eli's sons, the priests, was punished by suffering the Ark of God to be captured by the Philistines, this was an event of the direst significance. It was not merely that in the adverse fortunes of war a precious and highly valued treasure had been lost, an ancient and sacred relic which was devoutly prized, and had hitherto been sacredly guarded. It was an absolutely irreparable loss. When the Ark was taken away, Jehovah himself was gone. The tabernacle was thenceforward an empty shell; the priests ministered before a vacant shrine. No new ark was made to take the place of the old. This was impossible. Another chest might have been made of the same pattern and dimensions, and it could have been similarly overlaid with gold. Like figures of golden cherubim could not have been set above it. It might have been exactly reproduced in material and form; but this newly framed model would not have been THE ARK. What the Ark was in Israel's esteem, and what the sacred historian believed it to be, is sufficiently apparent from his narrative. God's presence is represented to be as firmly linked with it by the statements of the history as by the enactments of the law. This long neglect of the Ark from the time of Eli to that of David, from its removal from Shiloh to its transportation to Zion, is utterly unaccountable but upon one hypothesis, and that is the explanation afforded by the sacred writers themselves, namely, that the Lord had for the time withdrawn the visible manifestation from Israel, The breach between Jehovah and his people, created by their transgressions, had not yet been healed. And until this was done, He would not again establish His dwelling in the midst of them. It cannot be because Samuel was ignorant of the existence of the Ark, or of its sacred significance. For he was brought up in the temple at Shiloh, where the Ark of God was, and there it was within its hallowed precincts that Jehovah had first revealed Himself to him, and foretold the desolation of the sanctuary because of the iniquity practised there by the, degenerate priests. It cannot be because the Levitical law was not yet in existence, and the sacredness with which it surrounded the Ark was not yet popularly ascribed to it. For the facts already above recited demonstrate the contrary. It is not because the Ark was slightingly regarded, that it was for so long a time suffered to slumber in silence, but for precisely the opposite reason. Now, however, the long term of the Lord's displeasure is ended, and the way is prepared for Him to return with His power and grace to His people, to renew the symbol of His presence, and to fix His residence again in the midst of them. The alienation of Jehovah was removed. And David's first care, upon his being established as king over all Israel, in which he was most heartily seconded by the people at large, was to have the Ark brought to his capital, and set up there in an appropriate sanctuary, so that he might reign under the shadow of the Almighty: Jehovah the real king of Israel, and David ruling simply as his vicegerent. Jehovah thus returns once more to Israel, and takes up his abode in the midst of his people. The return of the Ark is not merely the bringing forth into notice of a long-neglected and sacred vessel belonging to the sanctuary; it, is the coming back of God Himself to a people whom he had temporarily forsaken.

(W. H. Green, D. D., LL. D.)

1. In bringing up the ark to Jerusalem, the king showed a commendable desire to interest the whole nation, as far as possible, in the solemn service. A handful might have sufficed for all the actual labour that was required; but thousands of the chief people were summoned to be present, and that on the principle both of rendering due honour to God, and of conferring a benefit on the people. It is not a handful of professional men only that should be called to take a part in the service of religion; Christian people generally should have an interest, in the ark of God; and other things being equal, that church which interests the greatest number of people and attracts them to active work will not only do most for advancing God's kingdom, but will enjoy most of inward life and prosperity.

2. The joyful spirit in which this service was performed by David and his people is another interesting feature of the transaction. God enthroned on Zion, God in the midst of Jerusalem — what happier or more thrilling thought was it possible to cherish? God, the sun and shield of the nation, occupying for His residence the one fitting place in all the land, and sending over Jerusalem and over all the country emanations of love and grace, full of blessing for all that feared His name.

3. But the best of services may be gone about in a faulty way. There may be some criminal neglect of God's will that, like the dead fly in the apothecary's pot of ointment, causes the perfume to send forth a stinking savour. And so it was on this occasion. What induced them to follow the example of the Philistines rather than the directions of Moses, we do not know, and can hardly conjecture. It does not appear to have been a mere oversight. It has something of a deliberate plan about it, as if the law given in the wilderness were now obsolete, and in so small a matter any method might be chosen that the people liked. It may have been an error of inadvertence. But that somewhere there was a serious offence is evident from the punishment with which it was visited (1 Chronicles 15:13). The great lesson for all time is to beware of following our own devices in the worship of God when we have clear instructions in His word how we are to worship Him. This lamentable event put a sudden end to the joyful service. It may happen to you that some Christian undertaking on which you have entered with great zeal and ardour, and without any surmise that you are not doing right, is not blessed, but meets with some rough shock, that places you in a very painful position. You are attacked with unexampled rudeness, sinister aims are laid to your charge, and the purpose of your undertaking is declared to be to hurt and discourage those whom you were bound to aid. The shock is so violent and so rude that for a time you cannot understand it. But when you go into your closet, and think of the matter as permitted by God, you wonder still more why God should thwart you in your desire to do good. Rebellious feelings hover about your heart float if God is to treat you in this way, it were better to abandon His service altogether. But surely no such feeling is ever to find a settled place in your heart. You may be sure that the rebuff which God has permitted you to encounter is meant as a trial of your faith and humility.

4. The Lord does not forsake His people, nor leave them for ever under a cloud. It was not long before the downcast heart of David was reassured. When the ark had been left at the house of Obed-edom, Obed-edom was not afraid to take it in. Its presence in other places had hitherto been the signal for disaster and death. It is not so much God's ark in our time and country that needs a lodging, but God's servants, God's poor, sometimes persecuted fugitives flying from an oppressor, very often pious men in foreign countries labouring under infinite discouragements to serve God. The Obed-edom who takes them in will not suffer. Again, then, King David, encouraged by the experience of Obed-edom, goes forth in royal state to bring up the ark to Jerusalem. The error that had proved so fatal was now rectified. The check he had sustained three months before had only dammed up his feelings, and they rolled out now with all the greater volume. His soul was stirred by the thought that the symbol of God-head was now to be placed in his own city, close to his own dwelling; that it was to find an abiding place of rest in the heart of the kingdom, on the heights where Melchizedek had reigned, close to where he had blessed Abraham, and which God had destined as His own dwelling from the foundations of the world. He sacrificed, he played, he sang, he leapt and danced before the Lord, with all his might; he made a display of enthusiasm which the cold-hearted Michal, as she could not understand it nor sympathise with it, had the folly to despise and the cruelty to ridicule.

5. A few other circumstances are briefly noticed in connection with the close of the service, when the ark had been solemnly enshrined within the tabernacle that David had reared for it on Mount Zion.(1) The first is that "David offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings before the Lord." The burnt-offering was a fresh memorial of sin, and therefore a fresh confession that even in connection with that very holy service there were sins to be confessed, atoned for, and forgiven.(2) Again, we find David after the offering of the burnt-offerings and the peace-offerings "blessing the people in the name of the Lord of hosts." This was something more than merely expressing a wish or offering a prayer for their welfare. It was like the benediction with which we close our public services. The benediction is more than a prayer, The servant of the Lord appears in the attitude of dropping on the heads of the people the blessing which he invokes. Not that he or any man can convey heavenly blessings to a people that do not by faith appropriate them and rejoice in them. But the act of benediction implies this: These blessings are yours if you will only have them. The last act of public worship is a great encouragement to faith. When the peace of God that passeth all understanding, or the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, or the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost are invoked over your heads, it is to assure you that if you will but accept of them through Jesus Christ, these great blessings are actually yours.(3) The third thing David did was to deal to every one of Israel, both man and woman, a loaf of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. It was a characteristic act, worthy of a bountiful and generous nature like David's. Yet Jesus did not abstain on some rare occasions from feeding the multitude, though the act was liable to abuse. The example both of David and of Jesus may show us that though not habitually, yet occasionally, it is both right and fitting that religious service should be associated with a simple repast.

4. The last thing recorded of David is that he returned to bless his house. The cares of the State and the public duties of the day were not allowed to interfere with his domestic duty. It is plain from this that, amid all the imperfections of his motley household, he could not allow his children to grow up ignorant of God, thus dealing a rebuke to all who, outdoing the very heathen in heathenism, have houses without an altar and without a God.

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

I. THE REMOVAL OF THE ARK FROM BAALE TO JERUSALEM. This period was the very prime of David's life, and power, and glory, and in it he undertakes the great business of confirming the worship of God. We can easily see that this forwardness to promote religion was his duty, as he was king of a religious state; yet it is in that very form and light that his conduct speaks to us with the highest authority. To rulers and magistrates, kings and ministers, what a lesson does it afford, what a salutary counsel! Men are religious beings, endowed with the faculty of religion, which other inferior animals possess not; their duty is, in every relation in life, religion. In authority, the main object should be to legislate for the true welfare of the subject, which is connected with religion alone. If rulers and legislators, on any pretext whatever, uphold and pension idolatry in a state, Or indulge the tendency of the multitude to idolatry, they decidedly labour the ruin of the subject, here and hereafter, as well as their own.

II. DAVID'S GRIEVOUS OFFENCES. The prescribed mode of transportation was wholly neglected. Men there are well disposed to serve God, and give Him the best of all their property, of life, and love, and reason, and substance, who hasten indiscreetly and illegitimately to the call of religion. Some will serve God, provided one article of the faith may be omitted. Others provided one favourite sin be allowed. Others, provided that their own fancy, their own wild conceptions of religion, their poetical deism, and poetical philanthropy, be taken for religion. And they fail! How could it be otherwise, when God did never call any man to a defective creed, or defective morality, or to despise His own rule of religion. And they are offended when some judgment has fallen in the very highway of their service, and declared it void and rejected! Such a judgment as distress, or death, or spiritual weakness, or ignominy, and the increase of folly rather than of religion. By these things God may declare our service dishonoured and unacceptable. The temporary sojourn of the ark brought numerous blessings on the house of Obed-edom. Religion — scriptural religion — is the means of solid prosperity. The time was short which was here allowed for the proof of a special providence in behalf of those who kept the ark of God within their walls, yet it was enough to confer blessings of health, and wealth, and honour. And if our time be limited but to one hour from this moment forth, and if we can carry with us, not the ark of the law, but the ark of mercy — the covenant salvation of Jesus Christ, by faith, who can set a limit to the blessings which shall accrue to us? Loved of Christ, what can harm us? cherished of God, what can hurt our peace, or damage our fortunes? We are all candidates for earthly welfare; believe it, then, the only and true secret of success, is in the sincere worship of the Saviour, as God of Gods. and Lord of all Lords.

III. During the progress of the successful attempt to set up the ark of the Lord at Jerusalem, DAVID TOOK A PROMINENT PART, as on the former occasion, in the whole proceeding. To all men this public homage speaks alike: it calls on us to do personal service. We may not transfer to any fellow-creature the performance of religious duties. As ordinary men, we do too little, when we transfer to others the conveyance of our patronage or bounty. We should with our own hands, when possible, feed the hungry, and refresh the weary, and clothe the naked; we should with our own voices, and present souls, and present sympathy, soothe the afflicted.

IV. THE KING'S RETURN TO BLESS HIS HOUSEHOLD. The king of Israel, it is true, forsakes the public scene, but it is only "to return and bless his household," to rehearse the ceremony of the day, explain its importance, impress the value of religion on all his dependants, and seal the blessings of public worship upon his family, by domestic piety. In this act we recognise these three particulars —

1. The personal maintenance of God's honour before His family.

2. His anxiety to communicate the blessings of religion to all the souls within His influence.

3. The solemn dedication of those souls to the honour and worship of the Supreme Being.

V. THE BOLDNESS, THE NOBLENESS AND DIGNITY OF DAVID'S CONDUCT throughout the events of that great day, when the ark rested within the walls of the holy city. A man shall find his foe ever in his own household; or if not, his religion will be arraigned, and his conduct reprehended with the keenest censures, by his associates, and his very piety denounced as mean and grovelling, dishonourable and injurious.

(C. M. Fleury, A. M.)

In the second verse we read "David arose." A new passion seized him; a sudden enthusiasm stirred him like a great wind from heaven. We cannot account for these inspirations, excitements, new consecrations, and purposes in life. Sometimes we say, Why did not men rise before? The answer is, They could not: the rising of men is not in themselves. There is a centre, there is a Throne, there is a living King, and in connection with these great central sovereignties and dominions there is a mysterious ever-operating Spirit that will not fall under our calculations and laws and predictions as to his operations in the human mind and on the human heart.

2. David arose to bring the ark to the metropolis. This idea is not without sublimity, and not without practical bearing upon our own nationality and own religious civilization. Be strong in the high places; see that the throne is within the operation of the mysterious influence of the altar; let there be no great distance between royalty of an earthly kind and service of a spiritual sort Let every metropolis be the best city in the whole land, It ought to be.

3. How is the ark to be moved? We read, in the third verse, that "they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah." There is a touch of veneration about this arrangement. The cart was "new." In the olden times and in eastern cities great store was set by new things: the colt upon which Jesus rode was to be one whereon never man sat; the tomb in which he was laid was a Scrub in which never man was laid before. There used to be a kind of pagan veneration for new things. Samson said, If you bind me with new withs — they must be new — then I shall be weak as other men. That experiment having failed, he added, If you bind me with new ropes — they mush be new — "never occupied" is the old English word — never occupied before, then my strength will be as the strength of other men. So we find here that the cart on which the ark was to be carried is a new cart. Where was the law? A dead letter. We can outlive our laws. We can forget the Bible. We can so accustom ourselves to policies and moralities of our own invention and construction as to forget the law of Sinai, the commandments of the living God. Oxen and waggons they were to have none. When the ark was to be carried it was to be carried by living men, and they were to be proud of the crowning honour of having part or lot in bearing the ark of the Lord. Let us not look at such details as little things, and suppose that it matters nothing whether the ark is carried in one way or another, provided that it is brought to its proper destination. There is nothing trifling in the kingdom of Heaven; there is nothing trifling in human life, when we really understand it.

4. "And when they came to Nachon's threshing floor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it" (v. 6.) Did the oxen turn aside naturally because of the threshingfloor? Had not they, too, come home? Did they not betray natural impatience when they approached the place where food was kept? The ark shaking under the movement of the oxen, Uzzah, who was undoubtedly a Levite, put forth his hand and took hold of the ark in well-meant purpose. But he was killed (v. 7). The ark is never in danger. That throne needs no buttress of our building. What share have we in keeping the stars in their places? How much of the security of the constellations is owing to our pre-arrangement, forethought, and devotion? God will take care of His own ark, and His own kingdom and truth in the world.

5. David got a new view of Divine Providence. He did not know that God was so careful, so critically particular. Such fear has a great place in spiritual education. The culture of the soul is not to be perfected by instruments of music, but by a holy fear.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I. DAVID'S GOOD WORK HINDERED BY WAR. Manifold are the evils of war. What an arrest on industry! What wrecked homes! What ruined harvests! What slaughtered lives! What a legacy of oppressive taxation, and the worse legacy of revengeful feeling! Manifold evils! This, too, among them: good works, national reformation, widened freedom,, education, religion arrested. Neglected is the tabernacle of God when the war-tents are pitched, and drowned in battle-cries are the songs of Zion. We know nothing of this; but it is well to think of it. The calm Sabbath air is unvexed by the war trumpet. The church doors are open to us, and the bells peal out their invitation to worship. Wars, rumours of wars, are not shocking the sweet, refreshing rest out of our Sabbath hours. Peace is ours. Not always so in this land. Churches were closed, or turned into barracks or military hospitals. And though this has been unknown in recent England, it has been known in recent days in other lands. Here — let us recognise it thankfully — God has blessed His people with peace. David's conflicts were triumphs; for he carefully "enquired of the Lord." He went not forth till bidden, and did as bidden. What battles had never been fought if men, statesmen, kings, had done as David did. Voice of seer, mystic oracle we need not. "We have the word of prophecy made more sure; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place." This will guide men-out of their self-seekings and ambitions and incipient quarrels into peace. Let us, each of us, be guided by it in our dealings one with another, and then, though un-influential seem our place in the great world's life, we shall yet be helping to make war one of the barbarisms of the past — one of the happily-unknown horrors of the golden year that appears so far away, but is to come.

II. DAVID'S GOOD WORK, WHEN BEGUN, ARRESTED BY IRREVERENCE. The glories of the ark had largely passed into history. Still, it was God's symbol; — still to be treated with reverence; still — the command not having been abrogated — to be untouched by human hand. Let all this day, then, beware. Amid this tumultuous gladness let there be reverence. The monitary instruction of that death is for us as well as for David and his people. It is for all, and especially for those who bear a prominent part in Divine work and worship. "We mock God when we do not fear." Irreverence! I speak not of the irreverence of the age; parents to children; subjects to governors; literature to religion; science to revelation. Think of irreverence in the Church! We need not go beyond ourselves. The preacher needs to watch. He may not "handle the Word of God deceitfully," but he may lightly; so familiar with it as to lose sight of Whose Word it is. In any department of Christian labour we must watch lest as preacher, teacher, visitor, we forget to whom we are speaking. Humble folk, it may be, poor children, dull, impatient patients. But who are these? For them, the most repellent of them, Christ died. Each dowered with the transcendent possession of a soul outvaluing the world though it were "one entire and perfect chrysolite." Each through all the obscurity, and toil, and weariness of the life here, a pilgrim to eternity. So in Divine worship. As we enter the sanctuary, let it be to us "none other but the house of God," not by our wandering, grasping thoughts degraded into tent of folly or den of thieves. As we open the Bible, familiar to us as was the ark to Uzzah, let us treat it with reverence, and "hear with meekness" the messages of this "Book of God, this God of Books." As we sing, let us "make melody in our hearts to the Lord," or the sweetest music will be sin. As we pray, let us only utter the heart — our words "the expiration of the thing inspired." Amid all the exercises of public worship and the worship of the home, "let more of reverence in us dwell." Uzzah "being dead yet speaketh."

III. DAVID'S GOOD WORK JOYFULLY ACCOMPLISHED. For three months the ark continued in the house of Obed-Edom bringing in unrecorded but manifest ways much blessing on the household of its careful and pious keeper. By this David was encouraged to prepare for its final removal to Jerusalem. He has learnt some lessons from Uzzah's death. Everything must be done with circumspection, "after the due order" (1 Chronicles 15:2-13), which had been strangely overlooked before. It was a transcendent hour. We can know little all it meant to David — how many hopes were being crowned: all it meant to Israel, with whom was opening a new epoch in their great history. They had been long falling from God — the very symbol of His presence neglected. But now had come times of peace; a God-chosen, God-approved man was their king. He would remind them that they were God's people, that ark the centre of their worship in the new capital would check that local idolatry to which they were so prone; would, gathering them together to one place for their holy feasts, bind them into a national and, infinitely more important, a religious unity. That ark, shrined in the sanctuary of their sanctuary, no idol in it, witnessed to the spirituality of God. We can rejoice in One whose Name is Immanuel, "God with us." Round Him Christian people gather for worship, and through Him have access with boldness to the Father. By Him God is declared to us, declared in a life of human suffering, yet Divine purity; in a life that "went about doing good," in a death that was died for the sins of the world. More than even ark with its shekinah glory could be to Israel, is Christ to us. A glory seen to-day not in material temple; not in any "house made with hands," but in the transformation, ennobling of human spirit and life. In every saved man behold the glory of God in Jesus Christ. We know that God is among us for such work is Divine.

(G. F. Coster.)

1. At last God accomplished the long cherished desire of His servant's heart — and David became the head and governor of Israel. The capture of the citadel of Zion, which till then had never been wrested from the foe, made him the virtual founder of Jerusalem; and undisputed supremacy began for the first time to attach to the people of God. But of what value is strength, unless thoroughly subjected to God, and made the servant of His order, and of His truth? David well knew that Israel could only regulate others for blessing, in proportion as they themselves were regulated by God. To be legislated for by God was the distinctive privilege of Israel: it was theirs to say of Him, "my King as well as my God." What, then, was the condition in which David found the order of Israel? Was Israel really subject to the arrangements of God? The condition of Israel's order was mainly determined by their relation to the Tabernacle and its vessels, especially their relation to the Ark of the Covenant. When Israel were in their journies in the wilderness, the Ark preceded them. When the Ark rested, its proper place was the Tabernacle. It is true, indeed, that the presence of the Ark anywhere in Israel was an evidence of God being near them, and His care over them: but His presence could not be duly recognised, nor the order of His truth maintained, unless the Ark was in the sanctuary, and the appointed services performed by the Levites and Priests, according to the manner. The fallen Tabernacle — the scattered vessels of ministration — the isolation of the Ark in an unknown dwelling — were sufficient indications that Truth and the order thereof had indeed fallen. Can we trace in these things no typical likeness to the days in which we live? Are we living at an hour when the truths of God are maintained in their completeness, and in their right connections; or are they held partially, confusedly, and out of their right relations to each other — many despised — many lost. And yet, who cares for these things? Men say, Is not God yet amongst us? Are not souls still saved by His grace? Why, then, should we concern ourselves about His order, or the more minute knowledge of His truth?

2. Throughout the reign of Saul the Ark was not only kept in separation from all the other vessels of the Tabernacle, but even in its isolation, it was neglected and dishonoured. It was the sense of this that chiefly acted on the soul of David. He does not appear to have considered so much the absence of right relation between the Ark and the other vessels of the Tabernacle, as to have been struck by the more palpable and astounding fact of the want of all right relation between the Ark and Israel. To bring back, therefore, the Ark from the place of its dishonour; to make it once more that which Israel should seek unto and inquire of; and above all, to establish it in the citadel of Zion, the place of sovereign supremacy and strength; these were the immediate objects of David's desires. Herein he was fulfilling his office of king, in giving supremacy to God and to His truth.

3. But the servants of: God have not unfrequently to learn that the pursuit of a right end does not necessarily imply the employment of right means. This David proved. It seemed easy to him, and to the eiders of Israel to move the ark of God to its new habitation. The desire was holy — the object right — and they fully reckoned on the instant and unhindered blessing of God. A cart was prepared: oxen were. yoked to it; the ark of God was placed thereon; and one whom they appointed amongst themselves, drave the oxen. The ordinance of God was express, that none but Priests and Levites should handle the vessels of the sanctuary: and although God, when the sin of Israel had brought the ark into the land of the Philistines, where there were no Levites — no Priests — was at liberty to supersede His own ordinances, yet David was not God. David, indeed, might well humble himself because of his error; for what error could be greater than recklessly to transgress the solemn ordinance of God, who had said that none but Priests and. Levites should touch the things of His sanctuary? Yet, has Christianity afforded: no instances of similar transgression? David infringed the typical order of God, and was punished; but how much sorer punishment do we deserve if we subvert the anti-typical reality — if we call the unsanctified and the unbelieving — those who fear not God and know not Christ, into functions which belong only to those who have truly the grace of His Spirit.

4. There was no visible glory; no manifestation of the Divine Presence, whilst David was restoring to Israel the long-banished Ark of the Covenant of their God. If it had been a day in which God. was visibly manifesting His own glory, there would have been no danger of David's being regarded unduly, even if all the splendour of Israel's glory had been gathered around his person. But it was otherwise when that glory was hidden, and when the solitary Ark, long exiled from the Tabernacle of God, was the lowly emblem of God's presence in the midst of His repentant people. The eye of faith could discern the blessedness of that hour; but the heart of the daughter of Saul, true to her lineage, saw no excellency in it. She beheld the joy of David — understood it not — despised and upbraided him, and found in the day of Israel's blessing, a day of sorrow and lasting chastisement to herself. We have authority from Scripture for saying that the things which happened to Israel happened unto them for ensamples, and are written for our admonition (1 Corinthians 10.) They who read the Old Testament Scriptures, remembering this, will be able to trace many a feature in the general aspect of Christianity, that too closely resembles the condition of Israel at the time of which we have been speaking. How often do Christians seek to deaden their apprehension of the disorder and dereliction of truth that prevails around them, by the reflection that God has not forsaken, and never will forsake His own people; just as Israel might have said, in the days of Saul, "Is not the Ark yet amongst us?" It is, indeed, most true that God will not forsake His people; but is preservation from final ruin, and. deliverance from the extreme effects of disobedience, the only thing that is to be desired by the Church of God? Have they no distinctive testimony to maintain — no banner to display, because of God's truth? Is there no directive efficacy in His principles — nothing that forms the character, and determines the path of those who are subject to their power? If His principles be amongst us, and we regard them not, what can we expect, but that it should be said of us, as it was said of Israel, "that truth has fallen in the streets, and equity cannot enter." When we read of the triumph and exceeding joy with which David and all Israel with him, brought up the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord to Zion, "with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps," if we ask ourselves what these things indicate, we are obliged to look on to a yet future hour, when a greater than David — One whom David feebly typified, will, as one of the results of His own conflicts, give rest, and establishment, and supremacy, to the long scorned and persecuted Truth. The time is drawing nigh when that typical hour of David's joy is to be accomplished in that final day of triumph, when the Psalms of Israel on earth shall unite with the halleluiahs of the redeemed above, in saying, "The Lord God omnipotent reigneth." For that hour we wait, as those who have been alike made Levites — Priests — Kings; able therefore to serve, to worship, and to contend for Him, during the time of His people's weakness, and of His truth's dishonour, yet. expecting no triumph until that day.

(B. W. Newton.)

In this lesson there are sharp contrasts. Here is the ark of God, dreaded by some, by others desired; by some treated with rashness and irreverence, by others with holy care. To the first it becomes the occasion of awful punishment and fear; to the last, of unmingled blessing. Like the Gospel, it is a savour of death to some; to others, of life.

1. David, now victorious over all enemies, and firmly settled on the throne, resolves to bring up the long-neglected ark of God from Kirjath-jearim to Jerusalem. Disregarded, almost forgotten, through the reigns of Saul and Ishbosheth, it shall now be honoured in the sight of all the nation, brought to the capital, and made again the centre of Israel's religious services. Immense preparations are made by the king for celebrating its removal with suitable impressiveness and splendour. The whole nation is, as it were, taken into his plans. The men of renown, the leaders of the tribes, are summoned from all portions of the land. The priests and Levites assemble from their widely-scattered cities. Kirjath-jearim is reached; the vast procession is formed, the ark in its midst. Suddenly a cry of terror is heard, and now another, and still another. Disorder and confusion are spreading from rank to rank. David himself is seen lifting up his hands in horror as at some dreadful sight. What is the cause of this sudden tumult? Uzzah has been struck dead beside the ark! It shook because of the stumbling oxen, and, reaching forth his hand to hold it, instantly he fell dead upon the road. What could have been the meaning of this startling catastrophe? Undoubtedly, to many readers of the Bible, it has appeared a judgment of strange and disproportionate severity. If, however, we study the whole event, we shall find that there are circumstances which will do much to explain why Jehovah regarded this dreadful stroke as just and necessary. It was a part of this lesson of reverence for His Name and presence, and only in harmony with all the wonderful history of the ark, when Jehovah added special instructions as to the manner in which it should be cared for by its attendants, and in which the tabernacle and the ark itself should be transported from place to place. The Levites only were to be employed in this service (Numbers 4:2, 15; 1 Chronicles 15:2), and of these only one household, the sons of Kohath. There was no room for doubt that these directions had been thought by Jehovah of sufficient importance to be embodied in distinct and written commands; and these commands on that day were utterly disregarded. Uzzah's laying hold of the ark itself, was an act forbidden to the priests — and Uzzah was no priest — under any circumstances. It was at this point that Jehovah interposed. The nation, with the king at their head, were nominally honouring Him, but by the light and irreverent way in which they did it, by the negligent and half-heathenish manner in which, notwithstanding all their pomp, they entered upon this sacred business, they were dishonouring Him. If God were worthy of their worship, why did they take no sufficient pains to worship Him according to His Word? How did they dare in the very acts of His so-called service to break His most obvious command? As for Uzzah himself, who was the most conspicuous sufferer, it is possible that long familiarity with the ark had bred a special irreverence and presumption in him; but, however, that may be, his sin was shared by all who employed him in these forbidden services, and so occasioned his foolhardy and guilty deed. A feeling of mingled anger and despair now took possession of David's mind (v. 8). If he had been "displeased" with himself, we could have understood it. But it is indeed a mystery if his resentment was directed against God. It inclines us to fear that his own glory was in some measure his object in all these magnificent services. Was he angry because God had turned his great fete into a day of national disappointment and gloom, or because Jehovah had dishonoured him before the multitudes by this overwhelming rebuke? We cannot tell, but we wish that it could have been written that David was humbled and penitent rather than that he was displeased. And we can defend his despondency as little as his anger. He seems to have forgotten all his duty in a fit of half sullenness, half unbelieving fear. He abandons on the spot the whole plan of restoring the ark to its true abode. Instead of inquiring for the sin which caused the trouble, he acts as if there were no hope of forgiveness, no hope of acceptable service — as though God were a being toe dreadful to be approached, too capricious to be pleased. We are reminded of the slavish fears which the presence of God and the thought of His holy majesty still awaken in the hearts of sinful men, and of their readiness to be quit of all tokens of Him whom they cannot remember except with dread.

2. But now there appears another character upon the scene. He is a man hitherto unknown. The name of Obed-edom will always be honoured as that of the man who, while all others were filled with terror and dismay, shrinking in dread from the ark of God, held in his bosom the secret of a far different feeling — looking upon the ark indeed with all veneration, but without fear, opening the doors of his dwelling to welcome it, and finding it a source of unmingled good: He knew well how fearfully God had vindicated His holiness when the ark had been dishonoured; how by an unseen hand the massive idols had been thrown down upon their faces and broken before it; how the Philistines had been smitten with disease and slaughter; how the men of Beth-shemesh had been slain, and how Uzzah also had been struck with death beside it. He had heard the cry of terror from its heathen captors when they pleaded to have it sent away from their coasts. Beth-shemesh, the scene of the awful judgment because of the dishonoured ark, was scarcely a half-day's journey from his home, and now he sees all the frightened thousands of Israel, helpless with sudden fear, crowding the mountain-roads around his dwelling, even David himself afraid to meddle with this dreadful ark. He sees all this, and yet he does not fear to admit it to his house. A man humble and devout, he understands that, although to the irreverent and careless our God is a consuming fire, the obedient need not fear him. To the obedient and confiding soul He is always a God of love. Obed-edom expected to obey God — to obey Him scrupulously, reverently. Whatever rule God had prescribed for his observance he would never make bold to call a little thing. He was not under any such delusion as that God could be better honoured by a vast procession or by any services, however ravishing to human sense, than by a sober respect for his plain commands. In the house of Obed-edom there is peace. It rests not alone on the father. Here God's covenant is found to be a household covenant and to bring a blessing to all the home. And they were such as to be manifest. They were not confined to the secret souls of this favoured household. Either their unusual health and happiness and prosperity were such as were daily apparent to all their neighbours, or the inward blessings they enjoyed were freely mentioned by them to Jehovah's. praise. Probably in both these ways the favour they received from God was known. And now we shall see that by having received a blessing they were made a blessing. The happiness and goodness of this one pious household extend their influence at length to all the nation. They make it evident to one and another of the multitudes who had fled from God at his stroke, that, although He is a holy God, he need not be dreaded by any humble, careful heart. Through the spreading story of Obed-edom's blessing all Israel learns anew the loving-kindness of the Lord. The skepticism which that day of gloom had rolled over the land begins to be dispelled. The scoffers are silenced, the disheartened take courage. They learn that although the highest kings must not trifle with the holiness of the Lord, the humblest worshipper, anxious only to obey completely His sacred will, shall find Him a Father full of smiles and tenderness, Obed-edom restores: David's faith, and David at length leads the nation back to God. It is given to this unknown villager to instruct and reassure the dejected king. From the acceptance of Obed-edom's lowly worship, contrasted with the rejection of his own magnificent array, the monarch learns that to obey is better than sacrifice — that not all the eloquence of David's psalms, not all the minstrelsy of his choirs, not all the throngs of Israel's applauding tribes, could please Jehovah half so well as a serious and exact obedience to His written word.

(A. Mitchell, D. D.)

Monday Club Sermons.
King David had two great things set him to accomplish: to establish the worship of Jehovah in the place which he had chosen above all others for his abode, and to extend the kingdom to the bounds allotted to his people. He had just been acknowledged as king of all Israel. And now the place was ready to receive the ark of God, the most sacred of all the sacred things about which centred the worship of Jehovah. The ark, with its contents and its covering, came thus naturally to be the centre of the service and worship of Israel. To bring back the ark, then, was to re-establish the worship of Jehovah, and to centre the nation about the recognition of His law and grace. The topic suggested by these events is the relation of the public acknowledgment of God to the welfare of the nation, the family, and the individual.

I. THE NEGLECT OF PUBLIC WORSHIP IS DISASTROUS TO ALL THESE INTERESTS. Not always at first to material prosperity, and yet that condition of society which permits the increase of irreligion and a growing disregard for the institutions of worship is incompatible with the best prosperity of the state. No one can tell the evil that comes to a people by the disregard of its religious institutions, except as he sees it illustrated in the history of nations or in the fortunes of communities. Of two nations or neighbourhoods equal in other regards, one of which honours the Lord's house and the Lord's day, and the other treats them with neglect or more positive disregard, it is easy to prophesy their contrasted courses. When atheism took possession of the heart of the French people, it led in anarchy with its red right hand. Even a faith mingled with falsity is better for the morals and good order of a state than total lack of faith. It is almost as true in the family. It would be altogether so, except for those influences which surround the family so closely that it cannot be isolated from their power. Many a household is saved by the religious habits of the community around it, in which things it takes no part itself. The recognition of Divine law and grace are the best safeguards of society. Israel without the ark is Israel without wisdom or strength. Saul without the ark is a weak and wayward king. Samuel, whose heart was with the ark, was, next to God, the strength of Israel.

II. WE ARE TAUGHT A DUE REGARD FOR THE FORMS OF RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE. The spirit of irreverence is one which grows rapidly. One neglect of that which is due or decorous easily leads to another, till at length it requires sharp rebuke or severe punishment to remind men of that which was once in every heart. Do we not need a caution here in our day and in regard to our services of public worship? In how many of our Christian congregations the upright posture and the open eyes in prayer are painfully suggestive of a lack of reverent devotion. No better lesson can be taught the young, and no better training given in our Sunday schools than the lesson of reverence in the heart toward holy things, of reverence in thought and tone when we read the word of His covenant, and of reverence in posture when we approach His mercy-seat.

III. THE SPIRIT OF OUR SERVICE IS WHAT GOD REGARDS, RATHER THAN THE FORM OF IT. When in his false fear the king carried the ark into the house of Obed-edom, the Gittite, the Lord blessed all the household during the three months of its sojourn there. Is it not a clear indication to us that, after all, that which pleases God is not the exactness of our ritual, but the loving reverence of our hearts? All the outward forms were intended to promote this inward righteousness. If that were wanting, the empty forms could give God no pleasure, and they could do man no good. The Lord had appointed the tabernacle service and its feasts; but when the spirit was gone out of them, he would have them go out too. "God is a spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." This is the lesson — more important than all others — which comes to us from the open doors of the house of Obed-edom, from the prosperity which blessed them, and from the peace which ever attends the reverent though it be the informal service of the Lord.

(Monday Club Sermons.)

1. David was now no sooner settled again in his kingdom (after this double defeat of the Philistines) but he resolves upon settling religion and the sincere service of God. "Seek first the Kingdom of God and all things else shall be added" (Matthew 6:33.)

2. As David called this great assembly together, not only to put an honour upon the action, but also in defence of the ark in case the enemy should make any attempts to interrupt them for their passage. So this design was to redeem the ark of God's Presence from that sordid neglect all Saul's time.

3. The journey from Kiriath-Jearim to Jerusalem might be looked upon as too long a journey for the Levites to carry the Ark of God upon their shoulders according to God's command (Numbers 4:14, 15, and 7, 9), therefore out of prudence (which often spoils true piety) they provide a new cart, and lay the Ark of God upon it. This mode of carriage they had learnt from the Philistines, a bad precedent, who had done so before this without damage or any token of Divine displeasure, they doing so at the direction of their diabolical diviners (1 Samuel 6:2, 7.) No good patterns for Israel's practice: They did not so well consider that God would wink at this disorder in the Philistines because they were ignorant of God's Laws. But he would not brook it in His own people to whom the oracles of God were committed (Romans 3:2.) And one would think the very staff-rings upon the Ark might have minded the Levites of their duty: But 'tis likely they loved their own ease too much at this time, so were too willing to spare their own shoulders (ver. 1, 2, 3, 4.)

4. The great icy that David and his thirty thousand nobles and all Israel celebrated the removal of the Ark from Kiriath-Jearim Withal is expressed (v. 5), Ahio going before to lead the oxen, and Uzzah following behind to secure the Ark from tumbling off the cart. 'Tis supposed then David uttered those words, "Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered," etc. (Psalm 68:1) at this time, which were the words constantly used when the Ark was removed (Numbers 10:35.) But alas, how soon was all this mirth marred and turned into mourning, all this singing into sighing, merely by the stumbling of the oxen (ver. 6, 7), Uzzah observing that the Ark was shaken thereby and in danger of falling, he thereupon puts forth his hand to stay it steady in the cart.

(C. Ness.)

For sixty-five or seventy years this ark of the covenant had been permitted to remain in almost total neglect and forgetfulness. At length the time had come for David to interpose and, in the exercise of his royal authority, bring it back into prominence and reverence in the worship of the people.

I. QUESTIONS CONCERNING THE ARK ITSELF.

1. What was the so-called "Ark of the Covenant?"

2. Of what was it the symbol? Of the presence of Jehovah as the "covenant-keeping God" of His people Israel.

3. Of what is the Ark a sign now?

(1)An institution set apart for the Lord.

(2)An organization like the church.

(3)An ordinance, like the Lord's Supper.

(4)A duty: The family altar.

(5)A doctrine.

4. What does the absence of the Ark involve? The lonely heaviness of work done without a helper or a promise of success. That ancient Ark was only a symbol; Christ's presence is to us a wonderful fact. That was but a sign that Divine companionship was near; now we may be sure that Jesus, the Master, is really under our roofs and in our hearts.

II. SOME SUGGESTIONS CONCERNING DIFFERENT METHODS OF TREATING THE PRESENCE OF GOD.

1. The ark of God must be treated with a becoming honour. True humility can be shown in forwardness; for there are occasions in which it costs more to go forth into necessary conspicuousness, and brave the criticisms of public opinion, than it would to remain in concealment, withdrawn into a quiet of deepest reserve.

2. The Ark of God can be treated with a culpable carelessness. It had been decreed in the beginning of its history that this singular chest should be carried on men's shoulders; for this purpose of handling it had been constructed with rings through which poles might be passed so that it could be borne by the priests. Here we observe that Abinadab mounted it in a cart; and in this he patterned not after Moses, but after the Philistines, who once did the same disrespectful thing. It is of no use to say this was of no consequence. It is always of much consequence that one obeys God, and pays respect to every one of His commandments exactly as lie gives them.

3. The Ark of God can he treated with the highest exuberance of joy. The account in the chapter from which the text is taken must be supplemented by that which is added in the book of Chronicles: there we learn that a great school of training in music was set up at Jerusalem in patient preparation for this ceremony. There is nothing too good in poetry, in instruments, in singing, for God who is over all.

4. The Ark of God can be treated with a fatal presumption: "And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it."

5. The Ark of God might be treated with a half-hearted timidity. "And David was displeased," &c.(1) He was "displeased:" the word means vexation akin to petulance; he was disappointed in all his plans.(2) He was "afraid." There was likewise a sense of penitence under the revelation of infinite holiness.(3) He was inconsiderate: "So David would not remove the Ark of the Lord unto him into the city of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom the Gittite." He dared not take the Ark any further, but deposited it beside the way as quickly as his alarmed attendants could remove it from the wheels.

6. The Ark of God may be treated with an appropriate and affectionate devotion: "And the Ark of the Lord continued in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months: and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household." Of course he received his reward; for God is good to the men whom he finds to be faithful to any trust. Josephus is quoted as saying that, whereas before Obed-edom was poor, on a sudden, in these three months, his estate increased, even to the envy of his neighbours. Matthew Henry says, with his usual brightness, that the Ark "paid well for its entertainment; it is good living in a family that entertains the Ark, for all about it will fare the better for it." Household piety is always profitable. We can have God's actual presence with ourselves and our children, if we accept His Word for our guide and His love for our shelter evermore.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

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