When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king of Israel, they mobilized all their forces to capture him. But David was told they were coming, so he went into the stronghold. The Philistines arrived and spread out across the valley of Rephaim. So David asked the Lord, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?”
The Lord replied to David, “Yes, go ahead. I will certainly hand them over to you.”
So David went to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. “The Lord did it!” David exclaimed. “He burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” So he named that place Baal-perazim (which means “the Lord who bursts through”).
2 Samuel 5:17-20 New Living Translation (NLT)
Even after all his success David doesn’t presume to know, on his own, what the next step is. For David—up till now—the next step is always to ask the Lord.
The God of the how-tos
When you keep your spiritual mindedness and don’t presume, all of the mental resources of the Creator of the universe open up to you.
But after a while the Philistines returned and again spread out across the valley of Rephaim. And again David asked the Lord what to do. “Do not attack them straight on,” the Lord replied. “Instead, circle around behind and attack them near the poplar trees. When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the poplar trees, be on the alert! That will be the signal that the Lord is moving ahead of you to strike down the Philistine army.” So David did what the Lord commanded, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.
2 Samuel 5:22-25 New Living Translation (NLT)
Knowing what we should do.
Knowing how we should approach doing it.
Sounds like a winning combination to me.
Then David again gathered all the elite troops in Israel, 30,000 in all. He led them to Baalah of Judah to bring back the Ark of God, which bears the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who is enthroned between the cherubim. They placed the Ark of God on a new cart and brought it from Abinadab’s house, which was on a hill. Uzzah and Ahio, Abinadab’s sons, were guiding the cart that carried the Ark of God. Ahio walked in front of the Ark. David and all the people of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, singing songs and playing all kinds of musical instruments—lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets, and cymbals.
But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand and steadied the Ark of God. Then the Lord’s anger was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him dead because of this. So Uzzah died right there beside the Ark of God.
David was angry because the Lord’s anger had burst out against Uzzah. He named that place Perez-uzzah (which means “to burst out against Uzzah”), as it is still called today.
David was now afraid of the Lord, and he asked, “How can I ever bring the Ark of the Lord back into my care?”
2 Samuel 6:1-9New Living Translation (NLT)
What boggles my mind here is how careful David was to avail himself of God’s counsel in the area of his strength (war), yet be neglectful in what he knew to be the most critical physical component of his kingdom (the Ark).
What was he thinking?
- He doesn’t ask the Lord directly—as we see him do repeatedly throughout his life.
- He doesn’t consult the scriptures concerning the Ark—or he would have known better.
How it was supposed to work
The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel to bring me their sacred offerings. Accept the contributions from all whose hearts are moved to offer them. Here is a list of sacred offerings you may accept from them:
gold, silver, and bronze;
blue, purple, and scarlet thread;
fine linen and goat hair for cloth;
tanned ram skins and fine goatskin leather;
olive oil for the lamps;
spices for the anointing oil and the fragrant incense;
onyx stones, and other gemstones to be set in the ephod and the priest’s chestpiece.
“Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you.
“Have the people make an Ark of acacia wood—a sacred chest 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inches high. Overlay it inside and outside with pure gold, and run a molding of gold all around it. Cast four gold rings and attach them to its four feet, two rings on each side. Make poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. Insert the poles into the rings at the sides of the Ark to carry it. These carrying poles must stay inside the rings; never remove them. When the Ark is finished, place inside it the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, which I will give to you.
Exodus 25:1-16 New Living Translation (NLT)
Notice the poles
They were there for carrying—not conveying on a wagon, no matter how sincere those who guided it.
At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord to stand before the Lord to minister to him and to bless in his name, to this day.
Deuteronomy 10:8 English Standard Version (ESV)
Notice the people assigned to carry the poles
They were the Levites.
This was their job.
Why didn’t David know any of that?
He thought he knew what was needed.
He wasn’t mindful.
And he was sadly and tragically wrong.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
- Stay mindful
- Stay focused
- Don’t presume
Picture credit: David, Bergin, Emmett and Elliott on Flicker
Ripe for Harvest is written by Charles Flemming.
©2014 Charles Flemming.