May 10.—Morning. [Or September 16.]
“God is greatly to be feared.”
1 Chronicles 13
AND David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. And David said unto all the congregation of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the Lord our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren every where, that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites which are in their cities and suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us: And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul. And all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people. (The son of Jesse loved the Lord too well to be forgetful of his honour, his earliest thoughts when he was confirmed upon his throne were concerning the glory of his God. How different this from the conduct of those whose wealth and honours render them forgetful of him to whom they owe so much!)
5 So David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering of Hemath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjath-jearim.
6 And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjath-jearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the Lord, that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called on it.
7 And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart. (Here they fell into a grievous error for they neglected the precept of the law which commanded the priests to bear the ark with staves upon their shoulders. God will be served in his own way and not in ours; the slightest neglect of this rule may lead to serious consequences. The two young men that drove the cart had probably grown so familiar with the ark, that they felt little reverence for it, and a solemn lesson was needed to teach all Israel that the Lord is greatly to be feared.)
8 And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets.
9 ¶ And when they came unto the threshing-floor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled.
10 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark; and there he died before God. (We have in our day too many among us who commit the sin of Uzza, for they dream that Christianity will suffer greatly unless they bring it into conformity with the ruling taste of society. They alter its doctrines, adorn its worship artistically, overlay its simplicities with philosophy, and its plain speech with oratory, and all with the zealous but presumptuous intent to help Him who needs not such helpers, and to preserve that religion which they only insult by their unbelieving anxiety. We must beware of even imagining that our hand is needed to steady God’s ark, the thought is blasphemy.)
11 And David was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzza: wherefore that place is called Perez-uzza to this day.
12 And David was afraid of God that day, saying, How shall I bring the ark of God home to me?
13 So David brought not the ark home to himself to the city of David, but carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom the Gittite.
Thus religious joy was interrupted because it had not been sufficiently seasoned with holy awe. This was good for David and all Israel, it suspended their rejoicing, but it purged their hearts from levity and presumption. It also taught them to be obedient to the Lord’s word, as well as zealous in his praise. Such lessons we all need to be taught.
14 And the ark of God remained with the family of Obed-edom in his house three months. And the Lord blessed the house of Obed-edom, and all that he had. (May we as a family always cheerfully open our doors to entertain the Lord’s servants and worship, for full many a household has been blessed in so doing.)
Just and true are all Thy ways,
Great Thy works above our praise;
Humbled in the dust, we own,
Thou art holy, Thou alone.
In Thy sight the angel band,
Justly charged with folly stand,
Holiest deeds of creatures lie
Meritless before Thine eye.
May 10.—Evening. [Or September 17.]
“Serve the Lord with gladness.”
2 Samuel 6:12–23
AND it was told king David, saying, The Lord hath blessed the house of Obed-edom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness.
Obed-edom’s prosperity was a sure token that the Lord was ready to bless all who would treat his ark with reverence. When God blesses men of like passions with ourselves, we are encouraged to expect that he will bless us also.
This time the ark was carried by the priests, for the king said to the priests and Levites, “Sanctify yourselves, that ye may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel unto the place that I have prepared for it. For because ye did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.”
13 And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings.
14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. (His royal robes were laid aside, and to shew that he was the Lord’s servant he put on the Levite’s simple dress, and “danced before the Lord with all his might;” that is, says Krummacher, “he gave expression in outward movements, and by a rhythmic action of his body, to the feelings which swelled in his bosom. The conception which the world of the present day is wont to associate with the word dance is here not at all appropriate. The dance was, in Israel, a form of divine worship, in which the highest and holiest inspiration oftentimes expressed itself; as, for example, in the case of Miriam and her companions at the Red Sea. If it had not been so, how would the spirit of prophecy have said by the prophet Jeremiah, ‘Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.’ ” And how would the singer of the hundred-and-fiftieth Psalm have exhorted the pious, saying to them, “Praise ye the Lord: praise him with timbrel and dance”!)
15 So David and all the house of Israel, brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet.
16 And as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.
17, 18, 19 ¶ And they brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts. And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. So all the people departed every one to his house.
20 ¶ Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! (She could not enter into David’s enthusiasm, and doubtless thought him half insane. Even thus at this day, cold, heartless religionists cavil at zeal, and call holy excitement cant and fanaticism.)
21 And David said unto Michal, It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord. (He reminded her of God’s electing love; truly, if anything can make a man’s heart dance this will.)
22 And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour. (One is here reminded of Paul’s counting all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. To promote God’s glory we should rejoice to become less and less esteemed among men.)
23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death. (She acted rather as the daughter of Saul than as the wife of David, and therefore like her father she died, leaving no heir to the throne of Israel.)