USING GOD FOR OUR PURPOSES
As 1 Samuel closes and 2 Samuel continues Saul dies, David is publicly proclaimed king over Judah and civil war breaks out between the northern ten tribes and the two southern tribes [Judah and Benjamin], which constitute the “house of David”. Following the victory of David’s forces, Abner’s coming over to David and the death of Ishbosheth [which ends any hope of a Saulide dynasty] the ten tribes acknowledged David as king over them as well. [See 2 Samuel chapters 2—5.]
But the unity is fragile and it will remain that way throughout the reign of Solomon and will finally fracture when Rehoboam begins to reign. David is well aware of the brittle nature of the union and is anxious to secure his place on the throne over all Israel and this is where the events of 2 Samuel 6:1-11 enter the picture.
The ark of the covenant was the visible sign of God’s presence and his Kingship—see passages like Numbers 7:89; 1 Samuel 4.4; 2 Samuel 6.2.
To serve their own ends Israel brought in the God they were dishonoring [note 1 Samuel 7:3-4 and 8:8] to defeat the stronger Philistines but God would not be so used [1 Samuel 4].
The Philistines then used the Ark of the Covenant to proclaim their glory and the power of their gods but God would not be so used [1 Samuel 5—6].
In 2 Samuel 6 David tried to use the ark to secure his place as king over all Israel but God would not be so used [6:1-11].
In the Ark was the law of the Lord God, the manna by which the Lord had sustained Israel and Aaron’s rod that proclaimed God’s decision on how Israel would access his presence.
But above all that, and what gave all that its meaning and power, was the King who sat enthroned above the cherubim, which were on the lid of the ark [see the texts above]. This King would not be controlled, would not be used, not by any person or persons and not for any reason!
When the kingdom later divided due to the wickedness of David’s son Solomon and his son Rehoboam God gave kingdom authority over the ten northern tribes to Jeroboam, son of Nebat [I Kings 11:26-40]. God made promises to Jeroboam similar to those he made to Saul but Jeroboam wasn’t content with God’s promise; he felt he must secure his throne even if it meant disobeying the King.
1 Kings 12:25-33 explains his reasoning and his disobedience. He didn’t want the twelve tribes going to Jerusalem to worship because he feared that would bind them to the house of David so he sets up alternative places of worship. His purpose in establishing worship centers away from Jerusalem was not to bring honor to God but to secure his personal dominion and his dynasty. Of course, if God got glory also that would have been all right with Jeroboam but that was not his intention.
This was precisely David’s thinking when he brought the ark up to Jerusalem to a tent he had set up for it. He wanted to ensure tribal loyalty from the northern tribes by bringing the ark up to Jerusalem so that they would come there to worship but we need to note that his stated concern was [2 Samuel 6.9], “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” In his eagerness to secure his throne his behavior led to the King’s throne being manhandled by Uzzah. Uzzah keeps the King’s throne from falling in order that David’s throne to be made secure.
The Samuel and Kings literature is written [among other things] to teach Israel that thrones rise and fall, that kings are made and unmade by the King and he will not be used. God sets up kings whose authority is to be used to glorify the King and further his kingdom purposes [it’s at this point that the Lord Jesus’ glory shines brightest].
Jeroboam and David [in this instance] insult the majesty of God, the King of Kings; David in one way and Jeroboam in another. But David learned his lesson and the rest of 2 Samuel 6 has him not only transferring the ark of the Lord correctly [in accordance with Mosaic instruction and with added reverence] but by behaving in a way that humiliated himself instead of exalting himself [6:14-23], in a way that exalted God who gives the throne to whom he will [6:21-22].
Major questions for all kings and those in authority would include these: Is God to serve your purposes or are you to serve His? Are you the rulers or is God?
[The questions, of course, must be addressed in their own contexts to all who are called by Him to his service as well as to those who have not yet heard and obeyed the gospel. The questions will or should lead us to examine our programs and ask ourselves if we are glorifying God or ourselves and if our programs are such that they will honor and further God’s kingdom purposes.]