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Light and Truth: The Old Testament: Chapter 29 - Jewish Unbelief and Gentile Blessing

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.

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See Also:
   Preface
   Chapter 1 - The Old and New Creation
   Chapter 2 - The Link Between Being and Non-Being
   Chapter 3 - A Happy World
   Chapter 4 - The Sin, the Sinner, and the Sentence
   Chapter 5 - Man's Fig-Leaves
   Chapter 6 - Expulsion and Re-Entrance
   Chapter 7 - The Blood of Sprinkling and the Blood of Abel
   Chapter 8 - The Way of Cain
   Chapter 9 - The Man of Rest
   Chapter 10 - Going Out and Keeping Out
   Chapter 11 - The Shield and the Recompense
   Chapter 12 - Liberty and Service
   Chapter 13 - The Day of Despair
   Chapter 14 - The Blood of Deliverance
   Chapter 15 - How God Deals with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 16 - The Fire Quenched
   Chapter 17 - The Vision from the Rocks
   Chapter 18 - The Doom of the Double-Hearted
   Chapter 19 - Be Not Borderers
   Chapter 20 - The Outlines of a Saved Sinner's History
   Chapter 21 - Divine Longings Over the Foolish
   Chapter 22 - What a Believing Man Can Do
   Chapter 23 - Song of the Putting Off of the Armour
   Chapter 24 - The Kiss of the Backslider
   Chapter 25 - The Priestly Word of Peace
   Chapter 26 - Human Anodynes
   Chapter 27 - Spiritual and Carnal Weapons
   Chapter 28 - Divine Silence and Human Despair
   Chapter 29 - Jewish Unbelief and Gentile Blessing
   Chapter 30 - The Restoration of the Banished
   Chapter 31 - The Farewell Gift
   Chapter 32 - God's Dealing with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 33 - God Finding a Resting-Place
   Chapter 34 - The Moriah Group
   Chapter 35 - Diverse Kinds of Conscience
   Chapter 36 - The Soul Turning from Man to God
   Chapter 37 - Man's Dislike of a Present God
   Chapter 38 - True and False Consolation
   Chapter 39 - Gain and Loss for Eternity
   Chapter 40 - Man's Misconstruction of the Works of God
   Chapter 41 - The Two Cries and the Two Answers
   Chapter 42 - The Knowledge of God's Name
   Chapter 43 - Deliverance from Deep Waters
   Chapter 44 - The Excellency of the Divine Loving-Kindness
   Chapter 45 - The Sickness, the Healer, and the Healing
   Chapter 46 - The Consecration of Earth's Gold and Silver
   Chapter 47 - The Gifts of the Ascended One
   Chapter 48 - The Speaker, the Listener, the Peace
   Chapter 49 - The Believing Man's Confident Appeal
   Chapter 50 - The Love and the Deliverance
   Chapter 51 - The Sin and Folly of Being Unhappy
   Chapter 52 - The Book of Books
   Chapter 53 - The Secret of Deliverance from Evil
   Chapter 54 - The Voice of the Heavenly Bridegroom
   Chapter 55 - The Love that Passeth Knowledge
   Chapter 56 - The Vision of the Glory
   Chapter 57 - Man's Extremity and Satan's Opportunity
   Chapter 58 - The Day of Clear Vision to the Dim Eyes
   Chapter 59 - The Unfainting Creator and the Fainting Creature
   Chapter 60 - The Knowledge that Justifies
   Chapter 61 - The Heritage and its Title-Deeds
   Chapter 62 - The Meeting Between the Sinner and God
   Chapter 63 - God's Love and God's Way of Blessing
   Chapter 64 - Divine Jealousy for the Truth
   Chapter 65 - Divine Love and Human Rejection of it
   Chapter 66 - God's Desire to Bless the Sinner
   Chapter 67 - The Resting-Place Forgotten
   Chapter 68 - The Day that Will Right all Wrongs
   Chapter 69 - The Glory and the Love
   Chapter 70 - False Religion and its Doom
   Chapter 71 - No Breath No Life
   Chapter 72 - Every Christian a Teacher
   Chapter 73 - Work, Rest, and Recompence
   Chapter 74 - Human Heedlessness and Divine Remembrance
   Chapter 75 - Lies the Food of Man
   Chapter 76 - The Love and the Calling
   Chapter 77 - The Anger and the Goodness
   Chapter 78 - Darkness Pursuing the Sinner
   Chapter 79 - Jerusalem the Centre of the World's Peace
   Chapter 80 - Jerusalem and Her King
   Chapter 81 - Looking to the Pierced One
   Chapter 82 - The Holiness of Common Things
   Chapter 83 - Wearying Jehovah with our Words
   Chapter 84 - Dies Irae

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