************ Sermon on 2 Samuel 6:11 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on February 26, 2017

2 Samuel 6
2 Samuel 6:11
"The Lord Blessed Obed-Edom"
Mission Emphasis Sunday

Two times David tries to bring the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem. The first time someone he knows is killed. The second time someone close to him becomes barren, unable to get pregnant.

I am willing to bet most of you are wondering how any of this ties in with Mission Emphasis Sunday. However, a close look at this passage reveals what happens to those in a right relationship with God. More than that, our passage illustrates what happens to those who are in Christ.

We are to see ourselves in the account of 2 Samuel 6. Now, the next question you might be asking concerns the whom. In whom are we to see ourselves? We see an entire list of characters in our Bible reading: David, Abinadab, Ahio, Uzzah, Obed-Edom, and Michal. In which one of these people are we to see ourselves?

I The Ark of the Covenant
A To understand what is in front of us this morning we need to start with the ark of the covenant.

Notice how the ark is described in our Bible reading. It is called the ark of God. It is described as bearing the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, Who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark. The ark was the throne of God here on earth. The ark was the symbol of the presence of the holy God, the awesome God, the mighty God, the creating and covenanting God (cf Jer 3:16-17; Ps 132:7-8). As such, the ark was clearly the most important object within the tabernacle and, later, within the temple.

During the 40 years Israel spent wandering in the wilderness the ark guided the pilgrims. Israel did not go anywhere or do anything without the ark leading the way (Num 10:33-36).

B The story in front of us needs to be seen as the continuation of the story of 1 Samuel 4-6. If you remember, the wicked sons of Eli took the ark into battle. When Israel was defeated, the ark was captured by the Philistines. The ark was taken into the Philistine city of Ashdod and placed in the temple of and before the statue of the pagan god Dagon. Remember how the next morning the statue of Dagon was on its face on the ground in front of the ark of the Lord? From Ashdod the ark was brought to Gath. The people there were afflicted with tumors. From Gath the ark was brought to Ekron and death filled that city with fear. These stories serve to show us the strength and glory of the Lord of the ark.

In a panic, the Philistines sent the ark back to Israel upon a new cart pulled by milk cows. The men of Bethshemesh welcomed the return of the ark, until they unwisely violated its holiness by looking into it. Then it was carried to Kiriath-Jearim, where it remained forgotten and neglected for some 40 years in the house of Abinadab.

Imagine that: the symbol of God's presence and leading among His people was neglected, forgotten, and ignored. I am sure Abinadab and his household did not forget about the ark, but it seems the rest of Israel did.

Isn't this a picture of us too often? We remember God when times are hard and life is difficult. We remember God when we are sick or when a loved one dies. We remember God when we lose a job or are diagnosed with cancer. But when the good times roll, God is forgotten and ignored. For instance, right after World War II the churches of Europe were filled. Today, many of the same buildings stand empty or have been torn down or -- even worse -- have been turned into bars or mosques. Right after 9/11 people flocked to church, but within a month it was business as usual. People remember God when it is convenient to remember God.

II Obed-Edom is Blessed
A The story begins with David wanting to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. So the ark is taken out its storage place at the home of Abinadab and set on a new cart pulled by a team of oxen.

We all know what happens next. there was an accident: the oxen stumbled, the cart dangerously swayed, and the ark of the Lord was in danger of tumbling to the ground. Uzzah reached out his hand to "save the day" and keep the ark from crashing. God struck him dead when he did this.

This scared David. He treated the ark like it was hazardous waste and dumped it at the first available site: the house of Obed-Edom. Obed-Edom hosts the dwelling place of Israel's God. Obed-Edom has the divine presence in his house.

B Take note of what happens next: "The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household" (2 Sam 6:11). We are to understand that Obed-Edom and his household were greatly blessed.

This is remarkable. This is remarkable because Obed-Edom is a Gittite. He is from Gath. He is a Philistine. He belongs to the nation that has hated God's people and fought God's people. Think of Samson. Think of Goliath. Yet, the presence of God is in the house of Obed-Edom and God blesses him.

What kind of blessings are we talking about? What the people saw were physical blessings: like a good harvest of wheat, grapes, and olives; health and strength; wealth; servants; flocks and herds; water; grass.

What is not so evident is that God also blessed Obed-Edom with spiritual blessings. In Psalm 103 David talks about the "benefits" -- we can use the word "blessing" -- of knowing the Lord. Listen to what he writes:
(Ps 103:3-5) who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, (4) who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, (5) who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
God's blessing upon Obed-Edom includes the spiritual and not just the physical.

By dumping the ark in the home of Obed-Edom, David was unintentionally doing the work of an evangelist. I suspect you have never thought of this story this way. But because of what David did, Obed-Edom has the presence of the Lord in His home.

We should all want the blessing of the Lord's presence in our home. As the song writer puts it:
Lord, You are more precious than silver;
Lord, You are more costly than gold.
Lord, you are more beautiful than diamonds,
And nothing I desire compares with You.
Is God in your living room? Does He live in your house like He lived in the house of Obed-Edom? This is what we should want for ourselves and those that we know.

We can go further and say God's Word and Spirit were at work in Obed-Edom. His was forgiveness. His was new life. His was a renewed spirit.

Did Obed-Edom deserve this? Did he earn this? Did God pick out his home because he was better than all other men? Of course not! He was a Gittite, from Gath, a hated Philistine. Someone as undeserving of God's presence as you and me. Someone as fallen as you and me. Someone as deserving of judgment and punishment as you and me.

It should be obvious by now that Obed-Edom was a recipient of the grace of God. Amazing grace. Wonderful grace. Undeserving grace.

This is a picture of what happens to us in Christ. By nature we are like Obed-Edom. We are outsiders, enemies of God. Yet, we have the overwhelming privilege of hosting Israel's God. We have His glorious and wonderful presence in our lives. And, like Obed-Edom, it is all by grace.

Here we see the reason for missions and evangelism: we want God to live with others so that they -- by grace -- receive the Lord's blessings. We want others to experience the forgiveness of sin and new life.

C Now David hears about this. He hears about God's blessing on Obed-Edom because of the Lord's presence in his home. And he reacts. He takes the ark out of the house of Obed-Edom and brings the ark of God the rest of the way to Jerusalem.

Do you think David was jealous? Do you think God's favor towards a Gentile provoked David to retrieve the ark? That's what we read in Romans 11: according to Paul, because Israel has rejected Jesus, the blessings of God have gone to the Gentiles; so that Israel, when they see how God has blessed the Gentiles might be provoked to jealousy and thus turn to Him (Romans 11:11-16). Listen to how Paul puts this:
(Rom 11:11) ... because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.

God blessed Obed-Edom and his entire household and David leads Israel in wanting the symbol of God's presence in Jerusalem.

D My reaction: I felt sorry for Obed-Edom. God has now been taken away from him. God's presence is no longer with him. God's physical and spiritual blessings will no longer be showered on him. Poor, poor Obed-Edom. Don't you feel sorry for him? Don't! Don't feel sorry for him! Why not? Because his life takes another wonderful twist. When the ark was taken away, he did not wave goodbye to God's presence. Rather, 1 Chronicles 16 tells us he and his associates were brought to Jerusalem -- along with the ark -- to serve as gatekeepers to the ark and to minister before the ark (1 Chron 16:4-6,37-38). In other words, he and his family were treated as Levites. They were included within Israel and worshiped God alongside Zadok the priest, Asaph the psalmist, and David himself.

Wow! A Philistine treated like a priest. A Philistine included within Israel. A Philistine worshiping God. Isn't God's grace amazing and wonderful and glorious?

And that, in Christ, is what happens to us. God does not leave us Gentiles behind. God includes us and our neighbors. He summons us to join His people, minister before Him, and take our place alongside Israel's priests, psalmists, and kings in worshiping Him. That's the mission of God. That's the mission of which we are called to be a part. So that others, like us, can enjoy the presence and blessing of God. Don't you want this for the people you know?

III Uzzah & Michal
A To have the presence of God in our life and home is the most important thing we can ever want. Therefore, I want to end by warning you not to be like Uzzah and Michal.

Because the ark was the throne and presence of God, it was always to be handled with reverence and awe. When it was moved from place to place the Law specified that it be carried by Levites who would bear it on their shoulders by means of poles passed through gold rings attached to the ark (Ex 25:14). Even the Levites could not touch the ark or look in it because of its holiness (cf Num 4:15, 20). Uzzah knew this. Yet, he decided to take matters into his own hands when the oxen stumbled and the ark was in danger of falling into the mud. Had the ark toppled, the mud would not have defiled the ark; it was the morally corrupt touch of man that was forbidden.

Uzzah thought it was up to him to protect the symbol of God's presence. Uzzah thought God was in his hands. But the presence of God is not in our hands; it is never in our hands. Rather, He is the Almighty. His is the Name and the honor and the glory. So, we are in His hands. Never the other way around.

The presence of God in our life is on His terms, not ours. Those with the presence of God in their life must submit to His will and obey His commands. If God's presence means anything, then we love what He loves, and want what He wants, and hate what He hates.

B Secondly, we need to look at Michal. She was a child of the covenant. She grew up with God and His presence. Yet, she admonished her husband for celebrating the presence of the Lord in Israel. She accused him of being vulgar and undignified and humiliated.

What did David do? Six steps into the journey he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. Casting aside his outer clothing and wearing only an ephod, David leaped and danced with all his might. He led the people with shouts and the sound of trumpets. He sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. He blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. He gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates, and a cake of raisins to each person in the crowd.

Why does David act this way? Why does he act like a wild and crazy man? Why does he act so excitedly? Because the presence of the Lord -- God's presence, God's person, God's being -- is the most important thing in life. His intent was to bring praise, worship, honor, and glory to God. He wanted to get God and keep God front and center in the life of his kingdom. He wanted to make his kingdom the kingdom of God here on earth. He wanted to experience the power and blessings of God. He wanted to have a time of worship with God.

Obviously, the presence of God was not something that got Michal excited. Obviously, dignity and pride and decorum were more important to her than the presence of God and worship.

How many of us are like Michal? We can get so used to all the treasures of salvation that they no longer excite us. God is such a fixture in our life that we no longer give Him a second thought.

The most important thing in life is to have the presence and blessing of God. Is this what you want for yourself and those around you?
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