Right Motive, Wrong Method invites God’s Judgment (1 Chronicles 13; Psalm 107)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 13; Psalm 107

Our first Scripture reading is taken from 1 Chronicles 13, and records the tragic events that accompanied David’s failed attempt to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant. Newly crowned as king (1 Chronicles 12), it was in his heart to honor the LORD, and bring the Ark to Jerusalem so that all the people might worship the LORD. With the affirmation of his leaders (13:1), David proclaimed to “all the congregation of Israel” his desire to “bring again the ark of our God to us” (13:2-3).

The Ark, a testimony of God’s presence in the midst of His people, and its mercy seat a symbol of His heavenly throne, had been forsaken for many years (13:3). After it had fallen into the hands of the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:4-17; 5:1-12), the Ark had been returned to Israel; however, when the men of Bethshemesh had touched the Ark and violated its holiness, they had been slain by the LORD (1 Samuel 6:19-21). Fearing the LORD’S judgment, the men of Kirjathjearim had retrieved the Ark, and placed it in the home of Abinadab, where it remained for the next twenty years (7:1-2).

David had admirable intentions for bringing the Ark to Jerusalem (13:4-6); however, he violated spiritual principles (13:7-10). 

The first, by reaching out and touching the Ark, Uzzah had treated as common what God had declared to be holy. He had lived in the home of Abinadab where the Ark had been kept, and he should have known the reverence the Ark of God not only deserved, but demanded (13:3). The Law of God was clear—the Ark was never to be touched (Numbers 4:15).

Though Uzzah’s motive was to steady the Ark, he violated God’s precepts, and regardless of his motive, his actions were unacceptable to God! The use of a cart to transport the Ark violated the method God had prescribed for its transport. It was to be carried by priests using staves overlaid with gold (Exodus 25:13-14).

From where did the notion of employing a “new cart” to transport the Ark arise?

It was the means the Philistines had used when they returned the Ark to Israel (1 Samuel 6:7-8). David had employed a pagan method to accomplish a righteous end, and that was unacceptable to God. While his desire to bring the Ark to Jerusalem was “right in the eyes of all the people” (13:3-4), it was the means, not the motive God judged.

Consider David’s response to Uzza’s death.

He was “displeased,” meaning he was angry. Was he angry with God, or with himself for failing to seek the way of the LORD? His anger was soon displaced with fear, for “David was afraid of God…[and asked] how shall I bring the ark of God home to me?” (13:12).

David did not continue bringing the Ark on its journey to Jerusalem, but entrusted it to “the house of Obededom the Gittite” (13:13). The LORD smiled upon the household of Obededom, “14And the ark of God remained with the family of Obededom in his house three months. And the Lord blessed the house of Obededom, and all that he had” (13:14).

My study of 1 Chronicles 13, has reminded me of a quote I often heard thundered from the pulpit of my Bible college:

“It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right!” (Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.)

Psalm 107 – A Psalm of Celebration and Thanksgiving

I close with a brief introduction of Psalm 107, which does not bear a title, and we do not know the author or the date it was composed.

Given the celebratory nature of the psalm, and the call for those “Whom [the LORD] hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; 3And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south,” a good case can be made the psalm was composed after Israel’s return from Babylonian captivity.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith