We turn this week to the first of several scripture passages that focus our attention on the Ark of the Covenant, the Temple and approaching God in our worship.
We start with recounting David’s bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and the details of how he proposed to accomplish this.
I encourage you to give the passage a slow and careful first reading. Let the details sink in and let a picture of this scene emerge in your mind. Pay attention to the things David is concerned with and how the wants the Ark to enter Jerusalem.
Then read the passage again and notice what of the passage most captures your attention. Allow your attention to focus on what you are drawn to and consider why that might be capturing your attention.
1 Chronicles 15 (New Revised Standard Version)
David built houses for himself in the city of David, and he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. Then David commanded that no one but the Levites were to carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister to him forever. David assembled all Israel in Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it. Then David gathered together the descendants of Aaron and the Levites: of the sons of Kohath, Uriel the chief, with one hundred twenty of his kindred; of the sons of Merari, Asaiah the chief, with two hundred twenty of his kindred; of the sons of Gershom, Joel the chief, with one hundred thirty of his kindred; of the sons of Elizaphan, Shemaiah the chief, with two hundred of his kindred; of the sons of Hebron, Eliel the chief, with eighty of his kindred; of the sons of Uzziel, Amminadab the chief, with one hundred twelve of his kindred.
David summoned the priests Zadok and Abiathar, and the Levites Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. He said to them, “You are the heads of families of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your kindred, so that you may bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, to the place that I have prepared for it. Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God burst out against us, because we did not give it proper care.” So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel. And the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.
David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their kindred as the singers to play on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise loud sounds of joy. So the Levites appointed Heman son of Joel; and of his kindred Asaph son of Berechiah; and of the sons of Merari, their kindred, Ethan son of Kushaiah; and with them their kindred of the second order, Zechariah, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, and Mikneiah, and the gatekeepers Obed-edom and Jeiel. The singers Heman, Asaph, and Ethan were to sound bronze cymbals; Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah, and Benaiah were to play harps according to Alamoth; but Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-edom, Jeiel, and Azaziah were to lead with lyres according to the Sheminith. Chenaniah, leader of the Levites in music, was to direct the music, for he understood it. Berechiah and Elkanah were to be gatekeepers for the ark. Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah, and Eliezer, the priests, were to blow the trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-edom and Jehiah also were to be gatekeepers for the ark.
So David and the elders of Israel, and the commanders of the thousands, went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-edom with rejoicing. And because God helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, they sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams. David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as also were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the leader of the music of the singers; and David wore a linen ephod. So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, to the sound of the horn, trumpets, and cymbals, and made loud music on harps and lyres.
As the ark of the covenant of the Lord came to the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing; and she despised him in her heart.
There is so much going on here. David has a lot of directions for how this is to be done.
To me he comes across as having a great deal of concern for the details. Why do you think that is? Is he too detail oriented here? Should he be more concerned “with getting the job done” and let details take care of themselves? Do you think his concern for the details takes the focus away from the Ark or serve to focus more attention on the Ark?
“So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, to the sound of the horn, trumpets, and cymbals, and made loud music on harps and lyres.”
Seems to be quite a show going on!
Does all the show detract from the Ark?
Would you be comfortable being there? Do you think you would be one of those shouting or maybe you would be counted among the singers? Or, do you stand on the side looking on in silence?
Do you identify with David “leaping and dancing” or do you identify more with Michal who seems offended by the scene?
Does this fit with what you think worship can be? Is this prescriptive of what should be or descriptive of one of the forms worship can take on?
Give that some thought, and we’ll talk later ….
“Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}