The ark, the king and the wife

Sunday, July 23, 2006

(Sermon notes on 2 Samuel 6:12-23, partly repetitive from previous posts)

Why trying to work out lessons from this passage, I noticed that it can be systematically observed like a sandwich:



The Ark of the Covenant

What is the ark? What is the Ark of the Covenant? It is the most important object to the Israelites Back in Exodus, after the Israelites left Egypt, God instructed Moses to build him a mobile temple and the first thing he was asked to build is what was called the Ark of the Covenant. It is an ark, a box container. It is made of pure gold. It contains the tablets of the 10 commandments signifying the covenant or the promise-agreement made between God and Moses for the people of Israel.

To the people of Israel, it represents God himself, as a reminder of God in their midst and in their presence. The ark is a holy object belonging only to God. No one can touch it, no one can even see it with their bare eyes. During the journeys of the Israelites, the Ark was carried by the priests in advance of the host (Numbers 4:5, 6; 10:33-36; Psalms 68:1; 132:8). When carried, the Ark was always wrapped in a veil, in badger skins, a blue cloth, and was carefully concealed, even from the eyes of the Levites who carried it.

What happened at this point of David’s life is that the ark has been taken away from them. This is one of the lowest point of the Israelite nation because with the ark taken away from them. God’s presence is no longer with them. What is the ark to us?

Two Lessons:

(1) Priority in our lives
To the Israelites, it meant a lot to them. To them it is the very presence of God. When they move, the ark is at the front leading the nation. When they settle, the ark is in the center as the heart of their lives. It is a symbolic object signifying that God is with them. They do not worship the ark. They worship God and the ark reminds them daily of the presence of God in their lives.

The symbolic object in our times is the cross. While the ark represents the presence of God, the cross represents the grace and the mercy of God, who gave us his Son to die upon it so we may live and not die.

So the lesson is: how much of our lives is led by the cross and how much of what we do centers around the cross. Who leads? God? Our ambition? Who is our priority in life? God or ourselves?

The Israelites have the ark there to remind them. We have the cross to remind us. Every time when we gaze at the cross, we need to ask ourselves 2 questions: who is leading my life? And who is in the center of what I do?

What about David? When the ark is returning to the nation of Israel, it was a big event. The presence of God is big to the Israelites. It is their identity. God is their identity.

(2) The Holiness of God
The Ark of the Covenant is something holy, separated for God. God is light and no one can see his face. At one time, Moses, whom God speaks to personally at that time bravely asks to see God’s face, but God only showed him his back because no one can see God and live to tell it. Uzzah even died in the process of moving the ark back the very first time.

Sometimes we take for granted the holiness of God. We must remember that even though we are called to have a close relationship with God, it is not a disrespectful lovey-dovey relationship. He is a father to us and asks us to call him Abba Father, which is equivalent to a Daddy to us. Yes we can be close but we must also approach God with respect, awe, reverence and worship.

How can we show reverence to God? In all the things that we do everyday of our lives is a testament to him. Live our lives that reflect his glory. Read his word and pray to him with awe and reverence.

David’s Offerings and Sacrifices

Talking about offerings and sacrifices brought me to do a revision on the book of Leviticus and I quote Wenham, Leviticus used to be the first book that Jewish children studied in the synagogue. In the modern Church it tends to be the last part of the Bible anyone looks at seriously. … In practice then, though not in theory, Leviticus is treated as though it does not really belong to the canon of Scripture. That rings so true. When I was younger, I would start reading the bible chapter by chapter in January and by the time I reach the Chinese New Year holidays, I would find myself in the book of Leviticus and there the goal of completing the bible in a year would go down the drain! Thankfully, by God's grace I did manage to read the entire bible several years ago.

I found a very good bible study material in the Internet which I pdf-ed into a 214-page document!

So what is the significance of these offerings and sacrifices that David gave to God? They certainly hold different significance in comparison to our offerings.

Two Lessons:

(1) We are sinful
We are sinful and sacrifices have to be made for God to forgive us and Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice

(2) Jesus is the only way
Sacrifices are very meticulous and there are many rules and regulations to it. God is very particular about the way men approach Him. We can only come to God his way, Christ's way not our own.

David’s Linen Ephod

The linen ephod is the vestment or garment that is worn by the high priest and later by the ordinary priest symbolically showing their characteristics of office in the priestly role.

The fact that David wore the linen ephod is very significant, very very significant. Now who is David? He is chosen and anointed king of Israel. Therefore, in bringing back the Ark of the Covenant, he should be clothed in the finest kingly garment, with a crown and scepter.

Instead he wore a linen ephod. To him, as far as God is concerned he is not king, but a servant. Before God, he is acknowledging his servanthood. To David, the linen ephod represents who he is before the LORD.

Two Lessons:

(1) To the leaders of the church
To the church, yes, you may be a leader but to God you are but a servant.

(2) To the people of the church
You may think you are just members, not doing much but don’t forget what Peter says in 1 Peter 2:9-10.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

David’s Dance

Now, David’s dance is a really popular account. I just feel that this passage is really taken out of context. Let’s take a look.

David danced before the Lord with all his might. There is no second guessing; he has no qualm about it. He did it with all his might. To David, his dance represents the worth and heart of his worship.

Lesson:

David’s dance sets the standard of the quality of our worship. Just like David, we must not have any misgivings over our act of worship to God. We must worship will all our might. This however, does not mean that we should start dancing and shouting from this Sunday onwards! It must be understood that dance and music as portrayed in 2 Samuel is typical and customary in David’s days. It is common. What is significant is David’s heart. He worshipped with all his might; with all of himself: body, soul and mind – and this is what God seeks in our worship. Worship him with all our might – in our songs, in our music, in our prayers, in our words.

David’s Gifts

David blessed the people with gifts as part of the celebration. To David, the gifts represents the symbolic blessings of God that with God back in the center of their nation, their lives will be full again.

Lesson:
David’s gifts to the people remind us of our responsibility to the people around us. God blessings must be shared. We are responsible to spread the goodness of God to the people around us to signify oneness in God and the bounteousness of God’s blessings in the body of the church.

Michal

The mention of Michal in this passage is very interesting. She is both the daughter of Saul and wife of David but here she is only referred to as King Saul’s daughter emphasising her position and attitude.

Comparing David and Michal, while David was rejoicing but Michal was despising, and while David brought back blessings, Michal responded with cursing.

Two Lessons:

(1) What is our response to the presence of God?
(2) How do we act in response to the presence of God?

Are we complaining or even acting in apathy when we are in the presence of God?

In conclusion:


Maeghan

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