2 Samuel 6:11
Divine chastisements and Divine benedictions have in this world the same end in view - the promotion of true religion. The judgment on Uzzah and the blessing on the house of Obed-Edom were alike intended to reawaken a living faith and piety in the nation, by showing that Jehovah, the living God, was amongst them, and was still prepared to honour his own institutions and bless those who honoured them, whilst those who dishonoured them would incur his displeasure. Obed-Edom honoured God by receiving the ark into his house and caring for it; and, in return, God's blessing rested on him and all his. They act a similar part who receive into their homes and honour there God's book, God's servants, God's poor; those also who establish in their houses the practice of family worship, and keep alive in their families a warm interest in all that concerns the Church and kingdom of God. They and theirs enjoy the abiding presence and blessing of him who has said, "Them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed" (1 Samuel 2:30). Notice -

I. THE INTRODUCTION OF THE ARK INTO THE HOUSE OF OBED-EDOM. It was owing to the panic occasioned by the death of Uzzah. May illustrate the apparently accidental circumstances which have sometimes introduced religion and the practice of family worship into families.

II. THE WELCOME IT RECEIVED. Obed-Edom, in this instance, excelled David. The alarm excited by Uzzah's death did not deter him from receiving the ark into his house. Faith subdued fear. He may well have felt that the act would be well pleasing to God; that it would bring him and his nearer to God; that the ark would sanctify his home and turn it as into a temple; and that it could and would occasion no harm to those who honoured it for God's sake. So should the things, persons, and practices that bring God nearer to a household be welcomed; and so will they be welcomed by such as have begun to reverence and love him.

III. THE BLESSING WHICH ACCOMPANIED IT. "The Lord blessed Obed-Edom, and all his household." What form God's blessing took in this case, so that in the course of three months it could become manifest to others, we are not told; perhaps some marked increase of worldly prosperity. And such an indication of God's blessing is not uncommon in households where piety rules. But there are other blessings of God which to his children are more precious, and which are to be confidently expected by families which honour him.

1. A pervading sense of Gears presence and love. This would surely result from having the ark in the house; and not less is it the result of having a Bible which is really valued and consulted, and a family altar.

2. The enjoyment of the Divine Spirit. The actual living operation of the present God on the conscience, heart, and life. He "gives his Holy Spirit to them that ask him." As the result of these:

3. A new sacredness given to family life and duty. The presence of the ark in the house would sanctify everything there, making the relationships sacred, and turning common duties into holy rites. Hence:

4. Higher and more steadfast family affections. Love to each other sanctified and elevated by common love to the heavenly Father and Divine Brother and Friend; unselfishness; unity; mutual helpfulness.

5. More cheerful and free, and therefore stricter, obedience to the Divine laws. The will of God as to the duties of parents, children, and servants, and of all towards those without, shining in a diviner light, better understood, and better practised. Hence the virtues which promote material and social welfare.

6. Family happiness. Springing naturally, as we say, but none the less as the result of the Divine appointment and active blessing, from such living. Happiness in and from the daily round of duty and affection. Happiness in the enjoyment together of God's gifts. Peace in trouble. Hope when one departs to the better home; a sense of union still ("We are seven"), and assurance of reunion in due time.

7. Moral and spiritual fruitfulness. Such a family dwells in an atmosphere highly favourable for the production and growth of piety and all moral excellence in those connected with it. It is a nursery for the Church. From such the best Christians and Christian workers go forth. Similar family life is multiplied and perpetuated in the subsequent homes of sons and daughters.

IV. THE EFFECT OF THE BLESSING ON DAVID. He was reassured, and took measures, at once more according to the Law and more successful, for fulfilling his purpose to bring the ark to Zion. Similarly, the aspect presented by families which serve God and manifestly enjoy his blessing is adapted to incite, and has often incited, others to go and do likewise. Finally, families which regard not God may have many desirable things, but cannot really enjoy the Divine blessing. "The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked," while "he blesseth the habitation of the just" (Proverbs 3:33). - G.W.







The Lord blessed Obed-edom, and all his household.
The wanderings of the ark and the opposite effects which its presence produced according to the manner of its reception, are symbols of a great truth which runs all through human life, and is most especially manifested in the message and the mission of Jesus Christ. All things have a double possibility in them — of blessing or of hurt. Everything that we lay hold of has two handles, and it depends upon ourselves which handle we grasp and whether we shall get a shock that slays or strength and blessing from the contact. Let us, then, just trace out two or three of the spheres in which we may see the application of this great principle, which makes life so solemn and so awful, which may make it so sad or so glad, so base or so noble.

I. THE TWOFOLD OPERATION OF ALL GOD'S OUTWARD DEALINGS. All the events are all meant to tell upon character, to make us better in sundry ways, to bring us closer to God, and to fill us more full of Him. And that one effect may be produced by the most opposite incidents just as the summer and the winter, with all their antithesis, have a single result in the abundant harvest. Here are two men tried by the same poverty. It beats the one down, makes him squalid, querulous, faithless, irreligious; and the other man it steadies and quiets and hardens, and teaches him to look beyond the things seen and temporal to the exceeding riches at God's right hand. Here are two men tried by wealth; the gold gets into the one man's veins and makes him yellow as with jaundice, destroying all that is noble, generous, impulsive, quenching his early dreams and enthusiasms, closing his heart to sweet charity, puffing him up with a false sense of importance, and laying upon him the dreadful responsibility of misused and selfishly employed possessions. And the other man, tried in the same fashion, out of his wealth makes for himself friends that welcome him into everlasting habitations, and lays up for himself treasures in heaven. The one man is damned, and the other man is saved by his use of the same thing. Here are two men subjected to the same sorrows; the one is absorbed by his selfish regard to his own misery, blinded to all the blessings that still remain, made negligent of duty and oblivious to the plainest tasks, And he goes about saying, "Oh, if thou hadst been here;" or "if — if" something else had happened, then this would not have happened. And the other man, passing through the same circumstances, finds that, when the props are taken away, he flings himself on God, and, when the world becomes dark and all the paths dim about him, he looks up to a heaven that fills fuller of meek and. swiftly-gathering stars as the night falls, and he says, "It is the Lord; let Him do what seemeth Him good." Here are two men tried by the same temptation; it leads the one man away captive, the other man by God's grace overcomes it, and is the stronger and the sweeter and the gentler and the humbler because of the dreadful fight. Nothing is sure to do a man good; nothing necessarily does him hurt. All depends upon the man himself, and the use he makes of what God in His mercy sends. Two plants may grow in the same soil, be fed by the same dews and benediction from the heavens, be shone upon by the same sunshine, and the one of them will elaborate from all sweet juices and fragrance, and the other will elaborate a deadly poison. So life is what you and I will to make it, and the events which befall us are for our rising or our falling according as we determine they shall be, and according as we use them.

II. THE TWOFOLD OPERATION OF GOD'S CHARACTER AND PRESENCE. The Ark was the symbol of a present God, and His presence is meant to be the life and joy of all creatures, and the revelation of Him is meant to be only for our good, giving strength, righteousness, and peace. But the same double possibility which I have been pointing out as inherent in all externals belongs here, too, and a man can determine to which aspect of the many-sided infinitude of the Divine nature he shall stand in relation. These bits of glass in our windows are so coloured as that some of them cut off and prevent from passing through certain rays of the pure white light. And men's moral natures, the inclination of their hearts, and set of their wills and energies, cut off, if I may say so, parts of the infinite, white light of the many-sided Divine character, and put them into relations only with some part and segment of that great whole which we call God. And thus the thought of God, the consciousness of His presence, may be like the Ark which was its symbol, either dreadful and to be put away, or to be welcomed and blessing to be drawn from it. Then, again, this same duality of aspect attaches to the character and presence of God in another view. Because, according to the variety of men's characters, God is obliged to treat them as in different relations, He must manifest His judgment, His justice, His punitive justice. The present God has to modify His dealings according to the character of the men.

III. THE TWOFOLD OPERATION OF GOD'S GOSPEL.

1. That is seen in the permanent effects of the gospel upon a man's character. Received by simple faith in Jesus Christ, it brings to us the clear consciousness of pardon, the calm sense of communion, the joyful spirit of adoption, righteousness rooted in our hearts and to be manifested day by day in our lives; it brings all elevation and strengthening and ennobling for the whole nature, and is the first thing that makes us really men as God would have us all to be. Rejection strengthens all the evil motives for rejection, and adds to the insensibility of the man that has rejected. The ice on our pavements in the winter time that melts on the surface in the day and freezes again at night becomes dense and slippery beyond all other. And a heart that has been melted and then has frozen again is harder than ever it was before. Hammering that does not break solidifies and makes tougher the thing that is struck. There are no men so hard to get at as men and women, like multitudes that have been hammered at by preaching ever since you were children, and have not yielded your hearts to God. The ark has done you hurt if it has not done you good. Christ's gospel is never inert, one thing or other it does for every soul that it reaches. Either it softens or it hardens. Either it saves or it condemns. "This Child is set for the rise or for the fall of many."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

1. David (considering first how ill the Philistines had fared for their miscarriage towards the ark, and after that, how fifty thousand Bethshemites had lost their lives for their irreverent peeping into it, and now Uzzah was struck dead for touching it) "was afraid of the Lord" (ver. 9) lest God should proceed further in the way of His judgments, both upon Himself and upon His people, seeing he had been so severe already for the circumstantial error of a pious mind, and more such mistakes might easily be committed by him or others, if they proceed on in their journey to Jerusalem: So David was at a great stand, and durst deal no more in a matter so dangerous.

2. This deed of David some denominate as his humility, not presuming to proceed, but rather desist, seeing Divine displeasure seemed to say so to him, until God gave him new direction; but more probably David discovered in this deed great infirmity; for as Peter Martyr argueth excellently upon this point, if David did not, know that it was the will of God the ark should be carried to David's City Sion, then he ought not to have begun its removal upon his own head, but if he had God's warrant for so doing, then he ought not to have desisted from it at this time upon this discouragement. That old sophister Satan put a fallacy upon David here, for the ark was not the cause of this calamity, but sin, which, being removed, he might have found God reconciled. David should have considered that the matter of this action was good, but there was some failure in the manner of acting, which he, finding out and reforming it, should have proceeded, having God's word to warrant, him to carry the ark to Jerusalem, without fear of any further danger.

3. David's carrying the ark to Obed-edom's house (ver. 10, 11) wherein:(1) Obed-edom was a Levite (1 Chronicles 15; 1 Chronicles 18; 1 Chronicles 21; 1 Chronicles 24, and 1 Chronicles 16:5, and 1 Chronicles 26:4) and certainly a good man, who finding David at a loss what to do with the ark, desired of him that his house might entertain it for the present, which was near Jerusalem, because Nachon's threshingfloor (where this disaster fell) is named here (ver. 6) "as Araunah's threshingfloor" (where the temple was afterwards built) is named (2 Samuel 24:18, 22.) This man is called a Gittite, not because a Philistine of Gath, for he was an Israelite of the tribe of Levi as above, but because he had sojourned in Gath, being (as Peter Martyr saith) banished thither with David by Saul, when be slew the Lord's priests; and we find that the Levites sometimes were forced to sojourn where they could find a place (Judges 17:8) or he was of Gath-rimmon, a city of Levites (Joshua 21:24, 26.)(2) The ark brought a blessing to Obed-edom and all his household (v. 11). Some say, how durst David expose his neighbour to that, danger from which he delivered himself. God took this act of faith well at Obed-edom's hands, and blessed him in his flocks, in his fruits, and in all his affairs and actions, and not only in his temporals, but also in his spirituals, to shew what a liberal paymaster God is unto all both small and great, who favour his concerns, and further His Kingdom. They shall be no losers, but great gainers, who give either him or his servants due entertainment; as Laban was blest for entertaining Jacob, Potiphar and the chief gaoler for Joseph, the widow of Sarepta for Elias, the Shunamite for Elisha, Zacheus for Christ, as Obed-edom here for harbouring God's ark. The third part of this chapter is the carriage of the ark from Obed-edom's house to its proper place in David's City.Remarks upon it are:

1. The removal of the ark from hence upon the occasion of David's hearing how the ark had been entertained not only without any damage, but also with great advantage to Obed-edom. Though it had not been so (as we read) to Abinadab, who probably had not given it so noble and reverent an entertainment as Obed-edom did, and therefore was not blest like him: David hereupon begins to bethink himself of his own loss, that if the ark had been this half year in his own house (according to his first design) all those blessings upon Obed-edom had been bestowed upon himself and on his household; and 'tis a wonder David should neglect consulting with God by the Urim about this matter. Now those tidings flush David to renew his former design, when he saw the danger was over (v. 12).

2. David acknowledges his former fault committed in carrying the ark upon a cart, &c., but now it must be borne upon the shoulders of the Levites, according to God's own appointment as before, and finding his obedience to God herein (seeking God in due order) so far owned, us that the Lord helped the Levites by an invisible power so to bear it, as that it seemed light and no burden to them (1 Chronicles 15:2, 13, 26.) David upon this encouragement offers up a bullock and a ram every seventh station, as well as at the first stage (v. 18) in testimony of his thankfulness to God, for his making no breach upon them. as he had done in his former undertaking.

(C. Ness.)

But the ark of the Lord had been in the house of Abinadab forty years, and we do not read of any particular benediction falling upon that house. That is quite possible. Men may have God in the house, and not know it. Men may have the Bible in the house, and never read it; or men may read the letter, and never enter into the spirit of the book. There is a difference between mere lodgment, and generous and appreciative hospitality. What a difference there is between a ceremony and a welcome — mere politeness almost amounting to mechanical veneration, and cordial sympathy, loving appreciation, a heart going out in great bursts of affection towards God for his compassion and love and manifold mercy! Abinadab and Obed-edom were in very deed not the same men. We do not all derive the same advantage from the Bible. One man reads it, and it is a letter — very stiff, formal, pedantic, reading like a royal proclamation, or like an ancient document out of which the meaning and immediate force have somehow become evacuated. Another man reads the Bible as if it had just been written — an immediate message from heaven — a comforting utterance from God's condescending heart, a speech made audibly, with all the fascination and persuasiveness of celestial music. We do not all get the same advantage from the Church. Attendance upon Divine worship may be a ceremony; or we may long for the opening of the gates of the house of the Lord; we may "prevent" the sun — be there before the light is there, waiting, longing, yearning to be admitted, and find in the place, itself speaking to us, comforting though invisible angels of God. Obed-edom is a Word which signifies obedience. The word obedience is almost literally found in the word. Obed-edom.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

From particular occurrences we ascertain general principles. There is a uniformity in the administration of the moral government of God, not less certain than that which is demonstrated to exist in the laws of the physical universe. On this axiom all moral reasoning is suspended. If its truth be called in question we have no basis on which to rest our persuasions, when we would deter from the commission of sin, or encourage the practice of virtue. The Supreme Being is not accustomed to act by sudden impulsions. His proceedings may indeed sometimes appear to the limited view of his creatures mere-incidental circumstances, having no reference to general and ulterior principles; but that in reality they are not so, is known to us from the rectitude and immutability of his character. Since God blessed the house of Obed-edom, because it was willingly consecrated to his service, we infer that He will bless other families who act in a similar manner. Hence his example becomes an argument and stimulus to domestic piety. It cannot be imagined that the mere circumstance of the ark being deposited in his house, apart from the sentiments of affectionate veneration which he entertained for it as the symbolical representative of God's presence, would have drawn after it the recorded benediction. But it was the fact that he saw in it the accredited organ of Jehovah's glory, the pledge of His grace, and the golden throne of His mercy, and that he accordingly welcomed it, cherished It, and presented the spiritual sacrifices of his family devotion before it, which made it a source of blessing to him and to all his house. I intend, therefore, to take occasion from the conduct of Obed-edom, to recommend the cultivation of family religion. It is true that our houses cannot be appropriated in the way his was to the special honour of God. No palpable and Divinely-appointed type of His invisible presence seeks admission into our tents. Yet may they nevertheless become His temples, designedly set apart and consecrated for His abode. We may act upon the very same principle that governed the pious Gittite, and thus secure to ourselves a similar reward.

1. Let me then begin with the observation that nothing can be more proper in itself, or more becoming persons professing to act under a sense of their dependence on God, than the observance of some special devotion when they first enter upon the occupation of their houses. Such a circumstance marks an epoch in the history of a family. In many cases, indeed, it is co-incident with the formation of a new family. But whether it be when first they assume that important station which constitutes them the heads of a separate household, or whether at some subsequent period of their family history they enter upon a new abode, it is highly becoming the piety of Christians to mark such an event by some distinct religious exercise of a domestic nature. Then let the altar be reared, the grateful Ebenezer be celebrated, and the access of God to the dwelling of His servants be implored with fervent and believing prayer. In every new position in which he is placed by the appointments of Divine Providence, the man of God will deem it not only an incumbent duty, but a privilege of inestimable value, to put himself and whoever is dear to him under His safeguard and guidance. Few of the events which fill up the brief chronicle of our earthly existence are fraught with more consequences for good or for evil than the removals we make from place to place, as we prosecute our journey to the final resting-place of man. The first step they take becomes of immense importance. Upon it will depend in a degree far beyond what any prudential foresight of ours can calculate, the complexion of their whole future course. Nor of their course simply. Others besides themselves are implicated in their determination to open or to shut their doors to the ark of God. To welcome the entrance of God into their house in the offices of domestic religion is to become the benefactors of all their connexions, as well as to secure his blessing upon themselves; while the refusal to receive and entertain him as a family guest may issue in their own external exclusion, and that of many besides, from the family of His ransomed people, when they meet in the mansions of Heaven. Will it be other than a just recompense that those who will not admit God into their houses should be hereafter refused admission into his?

2. This consecration of your house to God, I proceed to remark, involves the perpetuated observance of family prayer. There would be no sincerity in the proceeding by which, upon your entrance into your habitation, you should set up an altar, if the presentation of the one sacrifice on that special occasion were all that you designed. Your solicitude, if you are governed by the principles of genuine piety, will be to detain the Divine Presence. If you invite your Heavenly Father, when you pitch your tent, you will desire that He should never more leave it. Of all the various forms under which men are combined in social life, the family constitution is that, alone which takes its origin immediately from God. Other compacts into which they are moulded may have the sanction of his approbation, but this is the production of His own hands. He supplies the bonds Which unite us in the sweet conjunctions of domestic life. It is attributed to Him as an instance of His love, that "He setteth the solitary in families: that He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children." In their social characters, it; is consequently, incumbent upon families to acknowledge Him. It is not enough that the individuals composing them should worship apart, each in the retirement of his closet, but upon the head of the household it devolves as a sacred obligation to collect them together, morning and evening, unitedly to offer up their praises and their prayers. The component parts of family worship are three: The reading of the Word of God; the celebration of the praise of God; and prayer.(1) Since the Divine Being has graciously communicated to us the knowledge of His will, and put into our hands the volume that contains it, it is the dictate of reason that; we should on all suitable occasions consult it. Nothing can be clearer than that; the Author and Giver of the holy book designed it for the guidance of mankind in all the relations of life. Hence its marvellous adaptation to them all. It is profitable for every purpose. Every duty is enjoined in it, and instruction is communicated to every individual, in whatever modification of circumstances you can suppose him to be placed. Family relationships it especially recognises, laying down rules and affording encouragement to parents, to children, and to servants. And all this is done by it in addition to the disclosure of those momentous truths relating to human guilt and human redemption, to salvation by the cross of Christ, regeneration by the Holy Spirit, and to the glories and the pains of eternity, in which all the posterity of Adam have a common and an equal concern. The inference is too obvious to be avoided, that, while every one for himself should search the Scriptures, they should occupy, a prominent position in the devotions of the household.(2) The celebration of God's praise constitutes the second part of family worship. I mention it thus distinctly, because, though adoration and thanksgiving are comprehended in the general notion of prayer, to me it appears much to be desired that, whenever it can conveniently be done, some distinct attention should be given to this delightful and most celestial part of worship. Music is the language of feeling, and generally of elevated and joyous feeling; and when the heart keeps harmony, with the voice, and the sweet modulations of the psalmody are instinct, as it were, with the affections of the soul, we seem to rise in the scale of enjoyment, and to approximate to the state of the blessed.(3) It remains that I speak of prayer.

(E. Steane.)

I. THE NATURE OF FAMILY RELIGION. In conformity to the language of the narrative family religion may be said to consist in humbly and thankfully admitting the ark of God into our house. To receive the ark of God into our houses, is to receive Him whom the ark represented and symbolized, even Jesus Christ. Let Christ be received into our houses, and effects will be produced; and will evince His powerful and gracious presence with us. In one particular, indeed, we shall especially manifest His dwelling with us, namely, in the establishment of His worship in our house, in a daily social calling on His name by all the members of our household. It is by the regular performance of family worship that we make our habitations temples unto the Lord, and show that we have admitted His ark into our house.

II. OF THE PROFITABLENESS OF FAMILY RELIGION. Things are so appointed in the wisdom of God that duty and interest are closely joined together. It is a truth that the more attentive men are to their duty the more real peace and happiness they will enjoy. Scripture tells us that "godliness has the promise of the life that now is;" and reason, if we would listen to it, would tell us the same thing. It would tell us that those persons must experience most real enjoyment whom God regards with the greatest favour. But it is not in this indirect and incidental manner only that the profitableness of family religion shows itself. It is to be traced in its more immediate and practical effects. "The Lord blessed them." There was a peculiar manifestation of the Divine presence, favour, and protection, diffused around Obed-edom, and all that belonged to him. The power and goodness of God were, as it were, singularly exercised in his behalf.

(E. Cooper.)

It is well observed by a grave divine that while the ark brought the plague, every one was glad to be rid of it; but when it brought a blessing to Obed-edom, they looked upon it as worthy (of) entertainment, Many will own a blessing ark, a prospering truth: but he is an Obed-edom indeed that will own a persecuted, tossed, banished ark.

(J. Trapp.)

Do not think that the ark will impoverish you. Obed-edom did not grudge a little corner for the ark of God. The devil might have whispered, "Of all houses, yours seems the least able to have the ark of God. You are a poor man, and there are a lot of children, and you need that corner for a cradle. Why, the neighbours are saying, " What a foolish man Obed-edom is to have the ark in his place. Why, he has not a corner to spare; it is inconveniencing him very much;' and another says, 'I am glad I am not such a fool. I need all the space I have for wife and bairns, and sacks of wheat. I do not see what Obed-edom means by taking in the ark." Aye, but God made Obed-edom wealthy. The ark stayed there for three months, and God made Obed-edom's prosperity manifest. Josephus says, "The ark touched Obed-edom as the poorest in the place, and it left hint as the richest." There is a picture. Oh, if you help the ark, God will help you, never fear. Cast out something, and bring it in. Let it be first, and God will see to the payment.

(J. Robertson.)

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