The Ark the Centre of Service and Worship
Monday Club Sermons
2 Samuel 6:1-23
Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.…

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.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.

WEB: David again gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.

The Ark Sought After Long Neglect
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