The Story of Redemption


Presumption Punished

The people of Beth-shemesh were reaping in the field, and when they saw the ark of God upon the cart, drawn by the cows, they were greatly rejoiced. They knew that it was the work of God. The cows drew the cart containing the ark to a large stone, and stood still of themselves. The Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the offering of the Philistines, and they offered the cart and the cows which had borne the sacred ark, and the offering of the Philistines, unto God as a burnt sacrifice. The lords of the Philistines returned to Ekron, and the plague was stayed. SR 190.2

The men of Beth-shemesh were curious to know what great power could be in that ark, which caused it to accomplish such marvelous things. They looked upon the ark alone as being so powerful, and were not accrediting the power to God. None but men sacredly appointed for the purpose could look upon the ark, divested of its coverings, without being slain, for it was as though looking upon God Himself. And as the people gratified their curiosity and opened the ark to gaze into its sacred recesses, which the heathen idolaters had not dared to do, the angels attending the ark slew above fifty thousand of the people. SR 191.1

And the people of Beth-shemesh were afraid of the ark, and they said, “Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God? and to whom shall He go up from us? And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the ark of the Lord; come ye down, and fetch it up to you.” The people of Kirjath-jearim brought the ark of the Lord to the house of Abinadab and sanctified his son to keep it. For twenty years the Hebrews were in the power of the Philistines, and they were greatly humbled and repented of their sins, and Samuel interceded for them, and God was again merciful to them. And the Philistines made war with them, and the Lord again wrought in a miraculous manner for Israel, and they overcame their enemies. SR 191.2

The ark remained in the house of Abinadab until David was made king. He gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand, and went to bring up the ark of God. They set the ark upon a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab. Uzzah and Ahu, sons of Abinadab, drove the cart. David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of musical instruments. “And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.” Uzzah was angry with the oxen, because they stumbled. He showed a manifest distrust of God, as though He who had brought the ark from the land of the Philistines could not take care of it. Angels who attended the ark struck down Uzzah for presuming impatiently to put his hand upon the ark of God. SR 191.3

“And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and said, How shall the ark of the Lord come to me? So David would not remove the ark of the Lord unto him into the city of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom, the Gittite.” David knew that he was a sinful man, and he was afraid that, like Uzzah, he should in some way be presumptuous and call forth the wrath of God upon himself. “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.” SR 192.1

God would teach His people that, while His ark was a terror and death to those who transgressed His commandments contained in it, it was also a blessing and strength to those who were obedient to His commandments. When David heard that the house of Obed-edom was greatly blessed, and that all that he had prospered, because of the ark of God, he was very anxious to bring it to his own city. But before David ventured to move the sacred ark, he sanctified himself to God and also commanded that all the men highest in authority in the kingdom should keep themselves from all worldly business, and everything which would distract their minds from sacred devotion. Thus should they sanctify themselves for the purpose of conducting the sacred ark to the city of David. “So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness.... SR 192.2

“And they brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in His place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.” SR 193.1