(Scripture references from NIV)
Daily we all face a lot of different circumstances that require us to make decisions. Some of those decisions can be confusing or even difficult to know how to handle them for the best outcome. So what to do?
In 1 Chronicles 11, David was finally anointed the king over Israel and soon conquered Jerusalem where he took up residence. He had the support of many mighty warriors as they all worked together to rebuild and fortify the city.
In chapter 13 we are told that David determined they should bring the ark of God to Jerusalem and he made arrangements to retrieve it from the family that had been keeping it. Verse 7 says “They moved the ark of God…on a new cart…” (A fact you need to remember.) Then at one point the oxen stumbled and one of them (Uzzah) reached out to steady the ark. Verse 10 says “The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and He struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark…” Then in verse 11 we read where David was angry because of the Lord’s wrath against Uzzah and verse 12 says he was then afraid of God, and wondered how he could ever bring the ark to Jerusalem. So he left it behind with another family. (Every time I have ever read that story it has been puzzling to me and God’s action seemed a bit harsh, but hang on, there is an explanation that I finally discovered.)
But now the Philistines heard about David becoming king, and because David had not already defeated and humiliated them enough, they foolishly decided to go find him. In chapter 14:8b it says “…but David heard about it and “went out to meet them.” So just as when he defeated Goliath, he again went forward boldly to meet his enemy. Then verse 10a tells us “…David inquired of God…” about attacking the Philistines and was assured by God he would defeat them again, and indeed he did just that.
But those persistent Philistines had apparently had not had enough yet and advanced once more. Verse 14 tells us “so David inquired of God again and God answered him, ‘Do not go straight up, but circle around them…’” So, they did as God had instructed David to do and once again were victors.
Things seemed to have settled down after that with David’s fame causing others to fear him. So he was able to have buildings constructed and he also had a tent erected to house the ark. Apparently someone had enlightened David about how the ark was to be handled according to the instructions of Moses, because when he prepared to go get the ark once again he said: “…No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the Lord chose them to carry the ark of the Lord…’” (15:2) “’It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of Him about how to do it in the prescribed way.’” (15:13) This time when they retrieved the ark it says “And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the Word of the Lord.” (15:15) (So there is our explanation of why Uzzah suffered the wrath of God. Someone slipped up and did not find out that it should never have been on a cart at all – it should have been on poles and carried on the shoulders of the Levites; and, it was not to be touched. Also, I did a bit of research and learned that Uzzah was a Levite, so it seems that he should have known better.)
I believe there are a couple of important lessons to be learned from these stories. First, we need to know before we strike out to accomplish something if there is a “prescribed way” for it to be done. If we are totally off track, God could become angry with us. So, in other words, do your homework.
Second, if we earnestly seek the Lord for directions we may find that we are to face issues head-on – just go “out to meet them” without fear and trepidation. Maybe we need to use more educated tactics and “not go straight up, but circle around” the issue. There is almost always more than one way to successfully accomplish things. We need to be smart about it.
For me personally, and I will never believe that I am unique in this, at times I can just jump out ahead of God to accomplish things – like David with all kinds of joy and enthusiasm when he went the first time to retrieve the ark – only to discover I have royally messed up. We can make it so much easier on ourselves if we just do things in order, if we just check with Him before we go out there to make our own way. We should allow our good God to be our guide and protector. He will tell us the right way and whether we should face things head on (go out to meet them) or go a different way (circle around.)
“As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 18:30)
Written by Karran Martin – April 6, 2019