Seeking God’s Presence
One of the most sobering stories found in the Bible revolves around how both sinner and saint responded to God’s presence. Both 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13, 15 and 16 describe how Israel went about moving the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem from the house of Abinadab where it had been for twenty years.
The Ark of the Covenant represented the visible and tangible presence of God. Israel lost it to the Philistines and possessing it caused Israel’s enemy serious trouble. So, they gave it back and it sat in this house for a while.
Moving the Ark back to Jerusalem was a priority of king David’s. King Saul was dead. As king, Saul did not emphasize the tabernacle or the Ark. To David, however, the Lord dwelt in His glory upon the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark represented God’s presence.
David understood the importance of God’s presence. Throughout his life, he had been personally learning about worshipping and trusting God. Now, as king, he could lead God’s people to benefit from the presence of their great and mighty God. He also knew, as king, that it would be futile to rule without seeking God’s presence.
David took his troops and a group of people to the house of Abinadab. As he tried to bring the Ark back, he did not treat it correctly. He failed to understand or rely upon God’s instructions for handling the Ark. As a result, Uzzah (son of Abinadab) foolishly handled and touched the Ark. “And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God (2 Samuel 6:6-7).”
Despite David’s desire to restore the Ark in Jerusalem, he failed. He disobeyed God’s guidelines (1 Chronicles 15:13). The second time, some months later, David again tried to bring the Ark back to Jerusalem. This time he was successful, because he did it God’s way. The man after God’s own heart got it—he did not seek the Lord the first time. He just dashed out and got the job done and he got burned.
The second time, he got into the details. While it may have been easier to use the cart, God’s way was the best way. David was open to God. He admitted his mistake and he sought God for the answer.
David Jeremiah wrote, “David was by not means, from any perspective, a perfect man. He failures are as legendary as his accomplishments. He was a great leader who happened to be a member of that struggling, stumbling band known as the human race. Yet the final record of his life testifies to a consistent pattern—when the heat and pressure were ratcheted up a few levels, he seized hold of his relationship with God, gripping it with both hands and every ounce of his strength and every beat of his heart. He sincerely, urgently yearned to be in God’s presence. He craved the unique experience of worshipping with all the people of God.”
David desperately wanted God’s blessing and presence, not only for himself, but for his people as well. While he made mistakes, he never stopped seeking God’s presence. David knew, long before A. W. Tozer wrote these words, that, “nothing in or of this world measures up to the simple pleasure of experiencing the presence of God.”
What about you? Do you want God’s presence in your life? Are you desperate for Him to be a part of everything? Are you seeking His p