By Horatius Bonar
"And the ark of the Lord continued in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months: and the Lord blessed Obed-edom, and all his household." -- 2 Samuel 6:11
IT was into the house of a Gentile that the ark was brought; a Philistine; a dweller in Gath; a " Gittite;" but one who knew the Lord God of Israel.
It was the sin of an Israelite that led to its being brought here. Uzzah offended and was slain. He was afraid to trust the ark to take care of itself. He laid distrustful hands upon it when the oxen stumbled. Perhaps this was not his first offence of this kind. He seems to have been forward; perhaps proud,--proud of his office.
It was David's unbelief that brought it. He did not rightly interpret God's dealing; and was afraid; afraid of God, because He was holy, and ready to vindicate His holiness. He began the work, but broke it off in the midst, through fear,-- unbelieving fear.
He dreads danger to himself; but, strange, he does not so for Obededom. He was willing that Obed-edom should run the risk which he would not. In what a strange conflict of feelings this was done! There is more of unbelief and less of faith in David than we should have expected. He thrusts the ark into Obed-edom's house, that whatever ill might happen might fall on him. It was not in love to Obed-edom, nor with a design of honouring him, nor with the wish to confer blessing on him. None of these motives seem to have influenced David; but blind fear,--a wish to keep himself out of danger. He does not seem to have cared about this Gentile; it would seem as if he were saying, If there is danger, let it fall on a Gentile. He does not seem to have meant it for good to him, yet good came.
The ark of the God of Israel came to Obed-edom. It knocked at his door seeking shelter, seeking a home. He received it gladly. He was not forgetful to receive this stranger; and truly he received an angel unawares. He seems to have been a man of faith, one who knew the God of Israel,--who knew Him even better than did Israel's king! When David, in terror, would have nothing more to do with the ark, Obed-edom opened his door and bid the God of Israel welcome. Truly it might be said, "I have not seen such great faith, no, not in Israel."
In this unexpected way, blessing entered this Gentile house; nay, God Himself entered, and with Him all blessing. It was but a transient stay of the ark, a three months' sojourn; but God Himself had taken up His abode, and He would not depart. No doubt all kinds of blessing came in, temporal and spiritual; and these did not leave. What a gainer Obededom became by this failure of David! Through David's fall, salvation came to this Gentile! God was not unrighteous to forget his work of faith. Verily he had his reward. It was a high one. David was a loser, but Obed-edom was a gainer.
Jerusalem was a loser, but Gibeah was a gainer! Thus wonderful are the ways and works of God! Now turn to the lessons.
I. How God punishes irreverence. It was irreverence in Uzzah to put forth his hand. God had provided for the carrying of the ark by Levites, &c. He will not allow this to be encroached upon. He will not permit men to do evil that good may come; or to be judges of what is right, when He Himself has spoken. Beware of irreverence in the things of God; irreverence in church; in touching holy vessels; irreverence as to the name, or book, or day of God. Woe to the irreverent! They are Uzzahs, and shall know it at length, though they be long spared.
II. How God's people misinterpret His dealings. David did so. He shrunk from the ark; he dreaded it; he shrunk from God; he dreaded Him; he went back to Jerusalem without that for which he had specially gone forth; all through misconstruing this judgment upon Uzzah and his irreverence. God in smiting Uzzah did not mean to repel or terrify David; He merely wished to warn,--to check undue familiarity. David in haste and unbelief supposed it to mean that God was frowning upon him,-- that God was a hard Master,--eager to take advantage of every slip or stumble. Thus David wronged Jehovah.
III. How much they lose by this misinterpretation. Professing to shun Uzzah's presumption, they fall into David's unbelief; and like David they lose the honour and the blessing which might have been theirs. Such is the way in which hundreds lose the blessings of the Gospel. They misinterpret God and His dealings; they flee from Him, they doubt Him, they suspect Him; and so peace is lost, fellowship is lost, God Himself is kept out of the soul.
IV. How much they gain who receive God simply. While David was the loser, Obed-edom was the gainer. He was not afraid of God. The ark came knocking at his door asking admittance, and he gladly received it. And with the ark God came in, and with God all blessing. Everything prospered in his house now that God had come in. See how God can overrule the unbelief and failures of his people.
1. Beware of flying from God, or shutting out God. He comes to you and knocks; be you Jew or Gentile. Be not alarmed. It is a friend, not an enemy.
2. Let in God. Both into heart and home. Let God dwell in you and in your house. Bid Him welcome. Be not forgetful to entertain Him. He comes in love. Fury is not in Him. He is seeking entrance for Himself, and shelter for His ark among the sons of men. Let Him not pass by your door. Go out to meet Him, and bid Him welcome. He will bless you.