Obed-Edom and the Presence of God by Larry W Peebles July 29, 2016 16.28
Obed-Edom was in for a big surprise. King David of Israel had defeated the Philistines, who had previously captured the Ark of the Covenant. The Philistines were eager to return it after only seven months because the presence of the Ark had wreaked havoc on the Philistine people (1 Samuel 5, 6). David attempted to move it back to Jerusalem. He had great respect for the Ark, which was a God-ordained symbol from the days of the exodus led by Moses. It was constructed during the time the children of Israel were set free from Egyptian slavery and journeyed into the Promised Land. The Ark contained the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod, and a sample of manna. It represented the very presence and power of God when the children of Israel walked across the Jordan River on dry ground into the Promised Land, and at the destruction of the walls of Jericho. Vines Expository Dictionary explains it this way “the powerful presence of Yahweh is metaphorically yet truly concentrated in the Ark.”
David chose thirty thousand men to form the procession to accompany the Ark home, and ordered a new cart pulled by oxen to transport it. 2 Samuel 6:5 says “David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums, and cymbals.”
Then a tragedy occurred. One of the oxen stumbled, and the Ark suddenly shifted in the cart. A man named Uzzah instinctively reached out to steady the Ark so that it did not fall off the cart. He was instantly struck dead. Although his intentions may have been good, he and the entire procession were being too casual and careless in handling the Ark. When God gave Moses the detailed instructions for building the tabernacle and all of its altars and furnishings, the main feature of the most holy part of the tabernacle, the holy of holies, was the Ark. The holy of holies was the most sacred room, hidden behind the curtain, where only the high priest entered once a year to sacrifice and atone for the sins of Israel. The Ark in that sacred place contained the very presence of God. When He gave Moses the instructions on how to build the Ark, He also gave specific and detailed instructions on how to carry and move the Ark. These instructions were not only to show proper respect and reverence for the Ark, but also to protect someone from likely touching the power of God in a casual manner. Man is not built to withstand the full power of God. The unimaginable power of the Divine cannot be handled by human flesh. Without preparation, and without thinking, Uzzah reached out and touched the Ark. He may as well have reached out and grabbed a one million volt live wire falling to the ground.
Realizing the gravity of the situation, David became afraid and wondered how it would be possible to safely bring the Ark home to Jerusalem where it belonged among the chosen people of God. 2 Samuel 6:10 says David “took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom.” He needed time to re-group and research God’s instructions on how to move it to Jerusalem; perhaps he had over looked something.
Can you imagine Obed-Edom’s surprise when King David asked if he could drop off the Ark of God at his house for a while, until they could assess its proper handling? Then King David and his procession of thirty thousand walked off down the road, leaving the Ark, the very presence of God, with Obed-Edom. What would happen next?
We know from Scripture that Obed-Edom was a Levite (1 Chronicles 16:4-5), a man from the order of priests, called by God to serve the people by ministering before God. He had received the training of a Levite, and knew about the tabernacle, the altars, and the Ark, as all were still in use. These were the days before Solomon built the permanent Temple of God in Jerusalem. God’s presence still dwelt among the Israelites in the tabernacle. He knew the Ark represented the presence of God, and only the high priest could access the room where it was contained in the tabernacle. He understood the history and the symbolism, but he also respected the power of the God of his forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was awe-struck at the very thought of the Ark of God being left at his house.
Three months passed before David returned to take the Ark on to Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 6:11). This time he researched and followed God’s instructions to the letter on how to carry the Ark (1 Chronicles 15:13-15). The three months Obed-Edom spent in the continual and intense presence of God changed his life forever. A few minutes in God’s presence weekly in church, or even daily in prayer does not equate to the literal “soaking” in God’s presence that Obed-Edom and his household received during these three months. The following Scriptures give us a flavor for and a picture of the results of that “soaking in God’s presence”:
- 1 Chronicles 13:14- “The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had.”
- 2 Samuel 6:11- “The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite [reference to place of birth] for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.” [Insert mine.]
- 1 Chronicles 26:4- 5- Obed-Edom had eight sons, “for God had blessed Obed-Edom.”
- 1 Chronicles 15:18- Obed-Edom was named a gatekeeper when the Ark was brought up to Jerusalem.
- 1 Chronicles 15:21- Obed-Edom played the harp in the procession that brought the Ark from his house to Jerusalem.
- 1 Chronicles: 15:24- he was appointed as a doorkeeper for the Ark before the procession.
- 1 Chronicles 16:4-5- once the Ark arrived in Jerusalem, Obed-Edom was appointed by David as a Levite “to minister before the ark of the Lord, to make petition [pray], to give thanks, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel.” [Insert mine.]
- 1 Chronicles 26:15- the gatekeepers drew lots for their duties. “The lot for the South Gate fell to Obed-Edom, and the lot for the storehouse fell to his sons.” The South Gate was just outside the palaces of David and eventually Solomon. This was a strategic and very important body-guard type position and responsibility.
- 2 Chronicles 25:24- in a reference to an event that occurred under the reign of a later king, Scripture tells us that the temple storehouse contained the temple “gold and silver and all the articles found in the temple of God.” These had been in the responsible care of Obed-Edom and his family. 1 Kings 7:13-51 describes in great detail the furnishings of the temple, and confirms that these items were kept in “the treasuries of the Lord’s temple.”
- 1 Kings 8:1-10 tells the story of again moving the ark into its final resting place in the completed inner sanctuary of the temple Solomon built, in the Most Holy Place. Obed-Edom, along with all the priests and Levites, was involved in that event. He played the harp. (2 Chronicles 6:12). When the Ark was put into position, and the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, “the cloud filled the temple of the Lord, and the priests could not perform their service, because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.” Obed-Edom witnessed that cloud, and experienced the presence of the Lord again.
When presented with the opportunity to be in the presence of the Lord, Obed-Edom took advantage of it. He was neither too busy nor afraid. He and his family handled the presence of the Lord with great respect and reverence. Otherwise they were subject to the same outcome as fell upon Uzzah. As a result, he and his whole family were blessed. His life was changed forever. Following that initial experience, he was called upon to move the Ark whenever it needed to be moved. God caused kings to ask him to serve continually in the temple, where God’s presence dwelled. He was trusted with the great treasures of the temple, both monetary and spiritual. He was trusted with guarding the doors to the temple, and keeping watch over the palaces of kings. He was able to labor alongside his family while serving the Lord and the people of Israel in the temple. God lifted him up into positions of honor. I can only imagine the continual anointing and presence of the Lord allowed his serving to be a great joy, and not a burden.
The story of Obed-Edom causes us to ask some questions. Do we seek the presence of the Lord? When the opportunity presents itself to be alone with Him, do we take advantage of it? What is the attitude of our heart when we do have time alone with God? Do we come with joy and expectation, or do we come before Him out of a sense of duty? Is our approach casual or reverential? Are we too preoccupied with our own concerns to let Him impact us in the way He chooses? Obed-Edom honored and revered God, and the Lord blessed him mightily. When we demonstrate the proper reverence God expects and requires we can be trusted with His anointing, presence and power. May we all examine our hearts, and be led by the spirit of God into His presence.