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THE ARK OF GOD TO THE CITY OF DAVID

2 Samuel 5:6-6:23
Key Verse: 6:2

In the previous lesson David was anointed king over Israel after being the king over Judah in Hebron for seven years and six months. When David waited on God, being faithful to him at the given situation, God worked out all things to unite the house of David and the house of Saul in peace. In today’s passage David conquered Jerusalem known as the city of David and completely defeated the Philistines, and brought the ark of God to Jerusalem, the city of David. In this study we can see David’s faith in God and love for God.

First, David conquered Jerusalem (5:6-16). In 5:6, “The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there.” Jerusalem is the most important city in the Bible, with the name written around 800 times, more than any other place. It was to be the place where the temple of the LORD would be built and Jesus crucified. And New Jerusalem, the Holy City, is appears in Revelation (21:2). This city was located in the territory of Benjamin, near the northern border of Judah, and was excellently fortified because of its elevation and the surrounding deep valleys, which made it naturally defensible. In addition, it had a good water supply, the Gihon spring, and was close to travel routes for trade. The first reference of this city is in Genesis 14:18 that Melchizedek king of Salem (that is Jerusalem) came to meet Abram. In the book of Joshua, at the time of conquest of the promised land Joshua defeated the five kings of Amorites led by the king of Jerusalem, Adoni-Zedek while the sun stood still over Gibeon, and the moon stopped over the valley of Aijalon (Jos. 10:12-13). Then in Judges the city was conquered by Judah (Judg. 1:8), but neither Judah nor Benjamin was successful in permanently dislodging the Jebusite inhabitants (Josh. 15:33; Judg. 1:21). Jebusites were a people of Canaanite descent (Gen. 10:16-18). Since the earlier inhabitants of Jerusalem were Amorites (Josh. 10:5), it seems that the Jebusites took control of Jerusalem after the time of the Israelite conquest.

After becoming king over Israel, the first thing David did was to conquer Jerusalem. How David captured the city is not a thrilling story, but a very simple and a bit odd. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.” We wonder how the blind and the lame can fight. It seemed that they underestimated and looked down on David and his men. Surely they relied on the natural defensibility of Jerusalem. The Jebusites thought, “David cannot get in here.” But verse 7 says, “Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David.” What a plain story of conquest! Nothing was written about David’s strategy or the way he and his men fought. Probably nothing special, nothing worth being written down. Only the outcome was stressed, “David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David.” We are familiar with the word, “Zion” written around 170 times in Bible. We remember Isaiah’s vision in Isaiah 2:3, “In the last days…Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” Zion and Jerusalem were used interchangeably. But here is the first occurrence of Zion. Jerusalem, the fortress of Zion, became the City of David.

Then verse 8 says, “On that day, David said, ‘Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those ‘lame and blind’ who are David’s enemies.’” This is also a very odd remark after the victory and conquest over Jerusalem. Why did David say “‘lame and blind’ are David’s enemies”, which makes us wonder? Are they worthwhile to be enemies of David? And then it says, “That is why they say, ‘The blind and lame will not enter the palace.” Why would the blind and lame not enter the palace? Should not a man after God’s own heart welcome them into his palace? Yet, probably, the description of verse 8 shows David got much hard time unexpectedly in capturing the fortress because of the blind and the lame who were hiding in the water shaft/tunnel and warding off their enemies.

David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the supporting terraces inward. And he became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him. Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David along with cedar logs and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built a palace for David. And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel. And more sons and daughters were born to him in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem had been a not-so-significant place when inhabited only by the Jebusites. Had not David conquered the city, it would not have been remembered in history. But since David conquered the city, took up his residence in it calling it the City of David and served God’s purpose there, the city became a very significant and meaningful place in the history of God. As we studied in Ecclesiastes 1, everything is meaningless. As generations come and generations go, places and people come and are gone and are remembered no more. But in God they are full of meaning and remain forever in God’s history. May the place we live be a very significant place and remembered in the history of God along with us as we reside and serve God’s purpose in it!

Second, David defeated the Philistines consecutively (17-25). The next story after conquering Jerusalem is David’s defeating completely the Philistines, a persistent and a long time enemy of Israel. When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full forces to search for him, but David heard about it and went down to the stronghold. Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim, literally the valley of giants. At this situation what did David do? Verse 19 says, “so David inquired of the LORD, ‘Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” Here the conjunction “so” indicates that inquiring of the LORD became David’s spiritual habit. Since he had conquered impregnable fortress of Jerusalem and become very powerful, he could have depended on his mighty army and attacked the spread Philistines right away. Yet, he inquired of the LORD in dependence on God. At this inquiry the LORD answered him, “Go, for I will surely hand the Philistines over to you.” So David went to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He said, “As waters break out, the LORD has broken out against my enemies before me.” So that place was called Baal Perzaim meaning “the lord who breaks out”. The image seen in this name was that of flooding waters breaking through a dam, as David’s troops had broken through the Philistine assault. The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them off. The idols that the Philistines had taken into battle to assure them of victory were captured by the Israelites and burned (1 Chr. 14:12).

Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. At the Philistine’s once more launch, what did David do? He could have relied on his first victory. Yet, verse 23 says, “so David inquired of the LORD, and he answered.” This time God gave him a detailed interesting direction, “Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the balsam trees. As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move quickly, because that will mean the LORD has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” It was like a balsam tree and backside-attacking strategy. They say that the leaves of the balsam tree would rustle at the slightest movement of air. So the balsam tree would be the signal of the LORD having gone out to fight for them and they had to move quickly and fight spontaneously. So David did as the LORD commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.

In this part we learn David’s spiritual habit of inquiring of the LORD again and again. We can think of David’s “inquire of the LORD” series written in 1 and 2 Samuel. In 1 Samuel 23, when he was told that the Philistines were fighting against Keilah and were looting the threshing floors, David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” The LORD answered him, “Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah” (23:2). However, his men were afraid to follow this direction and fight. Then once again David inquired of the LORD, and the LORD answered him, “Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand” (23:4). Then David and his men finally followed this direction and saved the people of Keilah. And the LORD said, “They will.” (23:9-13). Then David could prepare for this calamity. When David and his men found in Ziklag that Amalekites had destroyed the city by fire and taken captive their wives and sons and daughters, they were so disheartened and frustrated that they wept until they had no more strength to weep. On top of that, when his men were talking about stoning him in their bitterness, David was greatly distressed. But David found strength in the LORD his God. Then he inquired of the LORD, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?” “Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue” (23:1-8). Following this direction, David recovered all and even more. In 2 Samuel, after the death of Saul and Jonathan and his lament over their death, David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” he asked. The LORD said, “Go up.” David asked, “Where shall I go?” “To Hebron, the LORD answered (2:1). So David went to Hebron and there he was anointed king over Judah. And here in 2 Samuel 5, David inquired of the LORD twice at each time the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim.

May we learn to inquire of the LORD with any problem, big or small. I was very much impressed to hear that a woman of God inquired of the LORD even to know with what kind of meal she should serve the quests who came to her place so that they might be really refreshed. And when God gives an answer to our inquiry, may we follow it even if the direction is against our human expectation.

Third, David brought the ark of the LORD to Jerusalem (6:1-23). In 6:1-2, “David again brought together out of Israel chosen men, thirty thousand in all. He and all his men set out from Baalah of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark.” At the time of stability and prosperity and power, David’s heart’s desire was to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem. In this chapter “the ark of God” or “the ark of the LORD” is written 14 times (2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17). In verse 2 the ark of God is described as that which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between cherubim that are on the ark. It had been written in 1 Samuel 4:4, “So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim…” And in 2 Kings 19:15, “And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: ‘Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.’” And this prayer of Hezekiah is written again in Isaiah 37:16, “Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.” So to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem, the city of David meant to recognize the LORD Almighty, the sovereign king over all, although David himself was the king over Israel. It was to honour God as God and was his expression of his reverence and love for God. The size of the ark is 1.1 meter long and 0.7 meter wide and high. And there were cherubim on the ark. The ark is a small box but symbolizes the throne of the Lord as the ark of God, the ark of the LORD. And there was the Testimony of Ten Commandments written on two stones in the ark. To bring this ark of God thirty thousand men were chosen. To David this was a great and very important work.

They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it. 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. The Israelites were really joyful in bringing the ark of God. However, an unexpected tragic event took place. When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God. According to the Old Testament law the ark of God was to be carried by the sons of Kohath with the poles on their shoulders (Num. 3:30, 31; 4:15; 7:9). Particularly, Numbers 4:15 says, “…the Kohathites are to come to do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die.” At this time David did not know how to bring the ark of God, although he had a zealous heart for the precious work.

At this awful event David was angry (surely toward himself) because the LORD’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah. And verse 8b says, “to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah (meaning outbreak against Uzzah).” David experienced two outbreaks. One was Baal Perazim, the LORD breaking out against the Philistines that brought victory to David. The other is here Perez Uzzah, the LORD’s wrath breaking out against Uzzah. Most certainly, David could not avoid the responsibility and the place was named Perez Uzzah. This event was totally against his wishes.

David was afraid of the LORD that day and said, “How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?” This was beyond his good will. He was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it aside to the house of Oed-Edom the Gittite. 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. When King David was told that the LORD had blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he had, because of the ark of God, David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David. At this time David knew how to bring the ark of God. This is written in detail in 1 Chronicles chapters 5 and 6. Especially in 15:11-15, “David summoned the priest and the Levites and said to them, ‘…you and our fellow Levites are to consecrate yourselves and bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel, to the place I have prepared for it. It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the LORD our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.’ So the priests and Levites consecrated themselves in order to bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel. And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the LORD.” Here in 2 Samuel it is written concisely: “When those who were carrying the ark of the LORD had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf.” And then in verse 14, “David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.” When he became king over Israel, he did not dance, although he must have been joyful and thankful to God. But when the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, King David was so joyful that he leaped and danced before the LORD with all his might. This shows that he truly loved God more than anything else. That day he had enough reason to be more rejoicing than the day God had made him king. And on that day David made the psalm of thanks to the LORD written in 1 Chronicles 16:7-36. Particularly he said in 16:23-29, “Sing to the LORD all the earth; proclaim his salvation day by day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendour ad majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength, ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name.” In this way David expressed his thanks and joy to God and love for the LORD his God.

They brought the ark of the LORD and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the LORD. After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD Almighty. Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.

Everyone was joyful and happy at this special occasion. But there was one person who was not happy. The person was Michal daughter of Saul and David’s wife. It was because to her eyes David did not act like a dignified king, but danced disrobing like any vulgar fellow. She did not know David’s heart and joy before the LORD. As for her, human dignity mattered. David explained to her why he acted like that, saying, “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.”

Here we learn that our God, the LORD Almighty is the sovereign king over all. What a grace it is that we can serve him in Christ Jesus who sacrificed himself for our sins and all the irreverent acts. May we learn to honour him as our sovereign Lord and King in every area of our life and love him more than anything else, rejoicing in his presence and because of his words, serving him in his way, that is, obedience to the word of God. May we depend on him in inquiring of the LORD and serve his purpose in our time and in the place where we are.

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