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2 Samuel 6:1-19

GOING AFTER GOD

Intro:  When we last left David, he was secure in his position as King of Israel.  The nation had gathered themselves around him and anointed him to be their king.  While David was certainly grateful for the peace that existed in Israel in those days; he knew that Israel was still far away from the Lord.  During the days of Saul, Israel had lost sight of their relationship with the Lord.  David wanted to make that situation right.  He wanted to bring his people back to God.

      To do this, David knew that he was going to have to lead the nation to go after God.  Our passage opens with David leading a massive army to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant from the house of a man named Abinadab. David knew that Israel would never be where they needed to be with the Lord until the Ark was restored as the centerpiece of Israelite worship and everyday life.

      At this point, a little history regarding the Ark is in order.  The Ark of the Covenant was built at the command of the Lord, Ex. 25:10-22.  The word Ark means “chest or box.”  The Ark was a box of wood that measured 45” long and 27” wide by 27” high.  This box was overlaid in pure gold.  It was topped by a golden grate called the Mercy Seat.  One either side of the Mercy Seat, were two golden cherubim.  Inside the Ark were a golden pot of manna; Aaron’s rod that budded and the two tables of the Law that were given to Moses at Mount Sinai. It was here that God promised to meet with His people.  It was here that the blood of the atonement was place on the Day of Atonement.  It was here that the shechinah glory of God rested as the child of Israel journeyed through the wilderness.

      This Ark was vital to worship in Israel.  It was symbolic of God’s presence among His people.  It was often carried into battle in front of the soldiers.  It was central to their lives; their worship and their relationship with God.  But, the Ark had not been kept in the central position that it deserved; and, as a result, neither had God.

      You see, way back in the days of Eli, some 75 years earlier, the Ark had been taken by the Philistines, 1 Sam. 4:11.  However, the God punished the Philistines all the time the Ark was in their possession, 1 Sam. 5-6.  Their solution was to place the Ark on a new cart and allow the cattle that pulled the Ark take the box back to Israel.  So, after 75 years, David is about to take Israel and lead them to go after God.

      We do not have an Ark like Israel did; but we still need the presence of God just as much as they did.  We need God on us and we need His power and His manifest presence in our lives and our worship.  This passage has something to say about this matter of going after God and bringing back His presence and His power. Notice with me some of the simple insights that are contained in this passage as we consider the thought Going After God.

 

  I.  v. 1-2                 THE DESIRE OF DAVID’S HEART

(Ill. When you think of David, what is your first thought?  Do you remember his triumph over the giant Goliath? Do you remember David as the man who committed adultery with Bathsheba?  Do you remember his failures as a father? Do you remember Him as a humble shepherd?  Or, do you remember David as the “Sweet Singer of Israel?”  Do you how God remembers David?  The answer is given to us in Acts 13:22.  There, Paul quotes God and tells us that God look at David as “a man after God’s Own heart!” God remembers David as a man who cared about the things that God cared about; who loved what God loved; hated what God hated; and whose heart beat in time with God’s.  This aspect of David’s character is revealed in the desire of David’s heart.)

A.  David Possessed A Holy Desire – David’s desire is clear and simple.  He wants the Ark returned to its place as the centerpiece of worship and devotion in Israel.  He wants God placed back in the center of the national consciousness. David was seeking to unify a formerly divided nation with God as their true King once again.  David desired God’s presence, God’s blessing and God’s guidance.

B.  David Possessed An Honest Desire – David was motivated by no ulterior motives.  He was not after glory or power; David merely wanted to see God restored to His proper place as the Sovereign God of the nation of Israel.  He strongly desired that God would be glorified among the people of Israel.

C.  David Possessed A Humble Desire – David knew that neither he nor Israel would amount to anything without the presence and power of God.  David knew they did not possess the power or the ability to fend for themselves.  They needed God.  They needed His presence and His power.  Therefore, David sat out to bring the Ark back to Jerusalem to restore it to a place of prominence in the eyes of the nation.

 

(Note: Let me just say that we need hearts like that which David possessed.  We need a heart that beats for God, His power and His presence.  We need to learn the lesson that we can do nothing without God, John 15:5.  We must have His presence and His power if we are going to serve Him; worship Him and carry out His will in our lives.  Like David and Israel, it is high time the church rose up and went after the Lord!  We know how to do it all; but I am afraid that we do not know nearly enough about how to seek His face, Ill. 2 Chron. 7:14.  May God grant us hearts that are hungry for God; that will not be satisfied until He comes by in power and glory and transforms us into all we can be for Him.  That was David’s desire; may it be ours as well.)

 

 II.  v. 3-10     THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF DAVID’S HEART

(Ill.  David’s motives in bringing the Ark to Jerusalem were proper; but his methods were faulty.  Instead of being successful; David’s methods for transporting the Ark resulted in the death of a man named Uzzah.  This angered David, v. 8 and created fear within David’s heart toward the Lord, v. 9. Let’s take a moment to examine David’s disappointment a little more closely and seek to determine what caused his plan to fall apart.)

A.  v. 3  Created By A Faulty Decision – The Bible says that they “set the Ark of God upon a new cart…”  David’s first problem was rooted in the fact that he either forgot or ignored the clear command of God as to how the Ark was to be transported.  The Ark was to be lifted by means of two golden staves which were to be passed through golden rings fashioned on the corners of the Ark, Ex. 25:14-15.  The Ark was then to be lifted up and carried upon the shoulders of a family of Levites known as the Kohathites, Num. 3:30; 14:15; 7:9.  David made good plans and good preparations, but he neglected to do it God’s way. He paid a high price for this decision.

            Another flaw that mars David’s decision is the fact that he did not seek God before he made it.  Up to this moment, David has always gone to the Lord for guidance and direction.  Time and time again, David asks the Lord for help.  Here, he does not seek the Lord, but he just assumes that God will bless him because he is doing a good thing.

            Another problem David has is that his methods were the same methods that had been used by the world.  When the Philistines had the Ark and wanted to return it to Israel, they had placed it on a new cart as well, 1 Sam. 6:7-15.

 

B.  v. 4-7  Caused By A Foolish Disobedience – For the first two miles of their journey, then the oxen shook the cart and threatened to dump the Ark off the cart.  At this point, Uzzah reached out his hand in an effort to steady the Ark and prevent it from falling.  This seems like a logical thing to do, but apparently God did not agree.  He killed Uzzah on the spot!  You see, the Ark was not only supposed to be carried only on the shoulders of the Kohathites; it was never to be touched by human hands, Num. 4:15.  The penalty for touching the Ark was death, as Uzzah and David quickly found out.

 

(Note: If these verses teach us anything, they teach us that God is very interested in the details.  We may think that God does not care about the little things in life; but He does!  When God gives a command, He expects it to be followed to the letter.  A heart that is after God does what God says to do, and it stops doing what God says not to do. 

   In the Bible, there are precepts and there are principles.  A precept is to be obeyed, there is no wiggle room.  When God posts a 55 mile per hour speed limit, He will not accept 75; 60 or even 56.  He expects absolute obedience. Regardless of the time or the circumstances, the speed limit is 55 MPH.  That is a precept. His precepts are to be followed, to the letter, without question. 

      If God posts a sign that says “Watch for Children,” that sign is a principle.  It will need to be observed more closely in a crowded neighborhood than it will on a deserted country road.  In other words, a principle is to be applied with wisdom.   A heart that is going after God will desire to honor both God’s precepts and His principles. God is intensely interested in the little things of life; even the things that you may not think matter at all.

      Does God’s reaction seem harsh to you?  After all, Uzzah was merely trying to do a good thing.  But, that is the price for disobedience and for violating the holiness of God.  God honors obedience and He will judge disobedience!

    Some other truths that we should take note of here are the following:

·         God’s blessings come only through obedience and those who defy His Word and His will are going pay a terribly high price.  The best thing a child of God can do is align themselves with the Word of God and walk in humble obedience, John 14:15; Micah 6:8. 

·         Failing to seek God’s will is just as dangerous as ignoring what He has already told you to do. His children should always pray before they make a move, Matt. 6:33.

·         Trying to carry out God’s business using the methods of the world is a recipe for disaster.  We have no business trying to carry the church on the new carts of the world’s wisdom.  It is to be carried on the shoulders and in the hearts of the people of God!

·         Like Uzzah, we are often guilty of reaching out with our hands instead of reaching up with our hearts.  We are guilty of trying to do spiritual work in the power of the flesh.  We attempt to do the work of God with our hands and never really get under the burden.  That will never work and God will not bless it, Jer. 29:13!

C.  v. 8-10  Culminated In A Fleshly Display – David became angry.  Possibly he was angry with the Lord; more likely he was angry with himself and his own foolishness.  But, instead of repenting and doing things the Lord’s way, David chose instead to forget the whole business.  He dismissed the people and left the Ark where it was.  David stopped praising and he started pouting.

 

(Note: We should not be surprised when God refuses to bless us when we leave the reservation.  When we seek to do His business our way, He will not bless it.  When we employ worldly methods in an attempt to do His work, He will not bless it.  When we fail to seek His will, He will not bless us.  When we operate in the power and energy of the flesh, He will not bless us.  When we refuse to obey His precepts and principles, He will not bless us.

      If you want to be disappointed in your walk with Jesus as an individual or as a church, just do everything your way, and watch Him refuse to honor it.  Watch Him send judgment instead.  If you want His blessings, then do His business His way and He will honor it and bring glory to Himself through it.)

 

III.  v. 11-19          THE DEVOTION OF DAVID’S HEART

(Ill. David was afraid to bring the Ark up, but a man named Obed-edom was glad to have it in his house.  He knew that a clean heart and a pure life had nothing to fear from the Lord.  When David closed the door to God, Obed-edom opened his door and God blessed him as a result. When David hears about this, he experiences a change in attitude.  He returns to the house of Obed-edom with a desire to carry out God’s will God’s way.  Something has happened in David’s heart that made him a candidate for what God wanted to do for him. Let’s notice David’s heart as it is revealed in these verses.)

A.  v. 11-12  Manifested In A Change In David’s Attitude – David had forgotten the reasons why he went after the Ark in the first place.  He is reminded when he hears of the blessings being heaped upon the house of Obed-edom.  David goes after the Ark and brings it home.

B.  v. 13  Manifested In A Change In David’s Approach – Apparently, during the three months that passed between the death of Uzzah and David’s decision to go get the Ark, he had been doing his homework.  Either someone told David how the Ark was supposed to be moved, or he read the Law for himself, 1 Chron. 15:13-15. Either way, he went and got it and brought it home the right way.  This time there would be no shortcuts and no disobedience; David would do it the right way. He would do it the Lord’s way!  Just to be sure, the Levites stopped after they had gone six steps and they sacrificed to the Lord.  When the Lord did not destroy anyone, they were assured of His blessings and they carried the Ark on to Jerusalem.

C.  v. 14-19  Manifested In A Change In David’s Actions – It seems that David has given up music, v. 5, and has taken up dancing, v. 14.  He has also laid the robes of his sovereignty and put on the humble ephod of a seeker.  He has laid aside his pouts and replaced them with shouts. David’s heart has been transformed and he is getting what went after.  He went after God and he is returning with presence and power of God.  David’s life, and the nation of Israel, would never be the same again.

 

(Note: What are the lessons for us here? They are simple!  The believer who goes after God with a heart to know Him; and who seeks His face according to His revealed will; is going to receive that which he is after.  When we stop trying to get on us through fleshly means and through worldly shortcuts; and we go after Him by honoring His Word and respecting His holiness, He will bless us with His presence and His power for His glory!  Doing things God’s way will put a shout in your heart, a song on your lips and glory in your soul.  When we line up with Him and go after God with all our hearts, we will be changed forever!  We must learn the truth that there are no shortcuts to holiness and obedience.

      You see, walking in obedience to the Lord and His precepts and principles will set you free, John 8:32; Rom. 8:1-5!  Living in disobedience and in the power of the flesh will result in bondage.)

 

Conc: David went after God the wrong way and he paid a high price for his disobedience.  However, when he started doing things God’s way, his life was revolutionized.  He was after God, and God’s presence and power, and he got it all when he did it God’s way.

      What about you? Are you seeking God and His power and presence in your life?  Are you seeking Him His way?  Are you walking in obedience to His precepts and principles?  If you have been hitting brick walls in your quest for God; let David’s example set you on the right path.  Go after God with all you have, but be sure that you go after Him His way.

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