Sunday School Lessons

An Object of Remembrance

From the previous article, which took a look at 1 Chronicles 11, let’s move over a few chapters later, to 1 Chronicles 15.  David had become king of all Israel in chapter 11, and he had claimed Jerusalem from the Jebusites, but he still had work to do.  One of these things was to bring the ark of God (i.e., the Ark of the Covenant) to Jerusalem.

By way of background, after David captured Jerusalem and made it his own city (as recorded in chapter 11), he wanted to move the ark there, and tried to do so previously.  1 Chronicles 13 tells us how he made a big deal about bringing it from Kiriath Jearim to Jerusalem, but as they transported it on a cart (rather than using the carrying poles that God had said to place in the ark, per Exodus 25:10-16), a guy named Uzzah touched it while trying to keep it from falling, and God killed him.  (This may seem harsh, but it is nothing compared to the punishment that we all deserve for rejecting God’s holiness.  I don’t know Uzzah’s heart, nor his eternal destiny, but I know that an appreciation of God’s holiness, and the respect that He deserves, is important for us to understand why our own salvation can only be obtained through Jesus Christ, since our sins were choices to oppose God’s holiness.)

After this incident, the ark was kept at the house of a guy named Obed-Edom (see 1 Chronicles 13:14).  And, as a result of this event, I think that David also had a bit of a reckoning, remembering that God was holy.  David’s comments in 1 Chronicles 13:12 make me wonder if David was convicted for making the ark more about himself and the people of Israel, rather than about God.  Maybe David needed to remember that the ark was not a symbol of David’s achievements or kingly authority, and bringing it to Jerusalem should not be an sign of success that David could claim for himself.  After all, David was the servant of a perfect, holy God, and God was the one who had blessed David, not the other way around.

In any case, it is at the house of Obed-Edom where we find the ark at the end of 1 Chronicles 15Verse 26 indicates that the ark was carried correctly, without anyone actually touching it, and that David appears to have been grateful that no one else was killed.

When the ark was finally brought to Jerusalem (on God’s terms), this was a cause for much rejoicing (see 1 Chronicles 15:28).  When an individual or a nation can experience the favor of God, this is something to be celebrated.  We would all do well to appreciate God’s blessings – on ourselves and on our country – and remember that these are not a result of our own doing.

Let’s pick up in 1 Chronicles, chapter 16:

They brought the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before God. After David had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD. Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each Israelite man and woman.
1 Chronicles 16:1‭-‬3 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/1ch.16.1-3.NIV

God’s presence with us is something to be celebrated, indeed!  Let’s take a look at three things that David did here:

First, he offered sacrifices to God.  There’s an old song that talks about bringing the sacrifice of praise (probably based on Hebrews 13:15, although verse 16 is good to read in context, too), and I think that praise to God is a great type of modern sacrifice (under the new covenant that Jesus provided).  When we openly praise God, we are sacrificing our time, energy, and even our pride.

We shouldn’t stop there, though.  Although animal sacrifices are no longer required, how else do we sacrifice to show honor to God?  Do we give our money so that others can hear about Him?  Do we give our time, telling others about Him, or serving them in His name?  Do we give our opportunities to Him, using them to glorify God, rather than for ourselves?  I think that David was so overwhelmed with the greatness of God that he couldn’t help but pour out his praise.

Then, David blessed others, in God’s name.  If we are celebrating God’s blessings in our lives, let’s not keep those things to ourselves.  Of course, we should be sensitive to others’ situations, and not be obnoxious (for instance, when God gives us physical healing that they are still waiting for).  Still, whether we share answers to prayer with our friends, or remind them regularly about God’s greatness, we should be inviting others to glorify God with us, and giving them the chance to share in the same blessings of knowing Him (even if they don’t already know how great God is).

Finally, David did something tangible for others.  If (when) we are blessed by God, that usually isn’t just for our own benefit.  Not only are we to return gratitude and worship to Him, but there are many times when we should also share our blessings with others.  Whether it’s food like David shared (some translations have meat and/or wine instead of raisins and/or dates), or money, time, and knowledge, let’s not keep God’s blessings to ourselves, especially when others can share in them and celebrate God’s greatness with us.

In all of these things, the ark of God was another reminder of God’s presence to the Israelites, as well as a reminder to them of God’s faithfulness.  In addition, the ark also reminds them (and us) of God’s holiness, and that coming to Him disrespectfully isn’t appropriate (even though His grace is bigger than our sins).

However, since we don’t have the physical ark around, I think that we would do well to make our lives into constant reminders of God’s holiness and glory.  The ark was a special place where God dwelled; today, we have the Holy Spirit within ourselves (the Lookout, referenced below, mentions 1 Corinthians 3:16).  I’m not saying that followers of Jesus are exactly the same as the ark of the covenant, but if we, like David and those that he appointed, are reminding people on a regular basis that the good God is near to them (as we celebrate that same fact ourselves), I think that we are doing well.


From Sunday School lesson for May 30, 2021

References:

  • The Lookout, May 30, 2021, © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
  • Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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