Background… 1Samuel 5,6
The Philistines had taken the Ark of the Covenant from King Saul’s army in battle. They carried it to Ashdod, where their idol – Dagon – fell down overnight before the Ark. The people of Ashdod broke out in tumors. They attributed this to the Ark, so they carried it to Gath (5:1-8).
The Philistines in Gath also suffered from an outbreak of tumors (5:9).
When the people of Gath tried to send the Ark to Ekron, tumors and great fear swept throughout the area (5:10-12)
After 7months of trouble concerning the Ark, the desperate Philistines were advised by their own priests to send the Ark back to Israel with a guilt-offering of 5 golden tumors and 5 golden rats (6:1-6).
To determine whether their troubles were caused by coincidence or the Ark, the Philistines devised a test. 2 cows that had just given birth to calves were tied to a cart holding the Ark. If the cows did not cross the border into Israel – staying with their newborn calves behind – they would surmise it was chance that caused the tumors. But, if the cows did cross over into Israel – leaving their newborn calves behind – they would attribute the plagues to God. The cows carried the Ark back to the Israelite town of Beth-shemesh (6:7-12).
The people of Beth-shemesh celebrated the return of the Ark… until God killed 70 men for looking too closely at the Ark. So, the people of Beth-shemesh asked for the people of Kiriath-jearim to come and take it away (6:13-21).
This was the straw that broke the camel’s back… and they began to demand a king.
20years later, David decided it was time to bring the Ark back to Jerusalem. The first time David tried to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem, it ended in disaster…
I. The Mission (2Sam. 6:1,2)
David went back to Baale Judah/Kiriath-Jearim with 30,000 special troops to bring the Ark back to Jerusalem.
II. The Method (2Sam. 6:3,4)
They placed the Ark on a new wagon, led by Uzzzah & Ahio.
III. The Music (2Sam. 6:5)
IV. The Mistake (2Sam. 6:6-8)
At one point, when the oxen stumbled, Uzzah reached out and touched the Ark to steady it… and was immediately struck dead by God!
So, David shelved his plans to bring the Ark back, fearing a further outbreak of God’s wrath. Instead, David left the Ark in the care of Obed-Edom, a Gittite.
V. The Months (2Sam. 6:9-11)
Why did David choose Obed-Edom? Why did God bless Obed-edom’s whole household for that 3months the Ark remained in his care?
1) “Obed-Edom” = ‘Worshipper of Edom’
2) Obed-Edom may have been a Levite, a member of the Jewish priestly class; see 1Chron. 15:23,24. If this is true, Obed-Edom would have known exactly how to take care of the Ark, treating it with appropriate respect, in contrast to Uzzah.
3) Obed-Edom may have been a Philistine! He was a Gittite… from Gath! A Philistine would have seemed to have been a strange choice for a caretaker, especially since the Philistines had once taken the Ark into battle with the Israelites. If he was a Philistine, then being entrusted with the Ark would have been an extraordinary honor!
Whichever reason it was, Obed-Edom enjoyed a tremendous honor! And he received God’s blessing for his faithful service.
For 3months, the most awesome symbol of God’s presence was held in Obed-Edom’s home.
This box was the most sacred article in all of Israel’s history – the most powerful object on the face of the earth. A box measuring 4’x2.5’x2.5′ was the focal point of his home.
I am sure this box changed the way they lived in that home. Every day – for 3months – they were aware that God was living with them.
In most of our living rooms, there is a similar-sized box that is the focal point. The furniture points toward it and, too often, our attention is too focused on it. It, too, has the power to shape our home life, form our children, corrupt our values, disturb our relationships, and control our time. By now, you realize I’m describing a TV.
In many homes – even Christian homes – the TV guide is read more often than the Bible.
The box at the center of Obed-Edom’s house brought blessing. It reminded them DAILY of God’s presence.
Inside the Ark were 3 items; see Hebrews 9:4:
1) The 2 stone tablets of the Law given to Moses – God’s Word (Ex. 25:16; Deut. 10:2-5)
2) A jar of manna from Israel’s wilderness wanderings – God’s Provision (Ex. 16:33,34)
3) Aaron’s budded-out staff – God ordained Leadership (Num. 17:10,11)
I think each of these should be represented and appreciated in our homes: God’s Word, God’s Provision, & God-ordained Leadership. When they are, we, too, like Obed-Edom, will be blessed.
You can read Obed-Edom’s story in 2Samuel 6; 1Chronicles 13 & 15.