Seeking or Stumbling?

Posted: September 3, 2010 in 1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 12-14, “Seeking or Stumbling?”
——————–

We sometimes sing the song quoting Matthew 6: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness. And all these things shall be added unto you – allelu, alleluia.” Wonderful song & wonderful exhortation from our Lord Jesus! If we but seek first the kingdom of God – if we reprioritize our lives to have God at the very center, where His will is what we first desire – then everything else becomes secondary, and we see God’s provision. Of course the problem for us comes in the actual application of this promise. Jesus’ immediate context was obviously speaking of eternal salvation – but the principle applies to every aspect of our lives. Do we seek the Lord in all things? Do we actually seek God’s will to be done first & foremost – waiting on Him to provide the rest in our lives?

Many people claim to seek God, but their actions claim otherwise. Instead of looking to the Bible to find out what God has to say on a particular subject, they just go ahead with their plans & ask God to bless it in hindsight. Or they simply assume that what they want for their lives is naturally what God wants for their lives, so they go ahead without ever seeking God through the Scripture or through prayer. To do so is to set ourselves up for a fall!

David & the nation of Israel learned this same lesson together. We’ll see people seeking to serve the Lord by trusting in His promises – we’ll see David seeking the Lord & seeing God’s marvelous deliverance – and we’ll see David forgetting to seek the Lord, and stumbling along the way.

1 Chronicles 12 (NKJV)
1 Now these were the men who came to David at Ziklag while he was still a fugitive from Saul the son of Kish; and they were among the mighty men, helpers in the war, 2 armed with bows, using both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows with the bow. They were of Benjamin, Saul’s brethren. [vss. 3-7 list the names]

A. Chronologically, the author has taken a step back several years. He picks up not with David’s reign, but during David’s flight from Saul. David of course left Saul virtually alone, but along the way he amassed a mighty army that gained quite a name for itself through various battles & exploits.
B. The point for the Chronicler is their skill. Some of these men may not have been the top of the list for some people to include in their armies, but in David’s army they excelled. They were strong with the bow – they could throw stones with either hand – they were excellent warriors.
C. Note the tribe: Benjamin. As the author points out, King Saul was their kinsman – to side with David took much courage. To many back at home, they were probably viewed as traitors. In reality, they showed loyalty to God over loyalty to their tribe.

a. Of course, this is what we’re called to do as believers. When we surrender our lives to the Lord Jesus, He takes 1st place over everyone else. Those who have left their brothers or sisters or other family for Jesus’ sake will receive a hundredfold reward in heaven (Mt 19:29). In comparison to our love for Jesus, even our love for our family ought to seem like hatred. Luke 14:26-27 (26) “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. (27) And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. []
b. Have you left it all to follow Jesus? The one who seeks to save his life will lose it & the one who loses his life for Jesus’ sake will truly find it. (Mt 16:25)

8 Some Gadites joined David at the stronghold in the wilderness, mighty men of valor, men trained for battle, who could handle shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as gazelles on the mountains: [vss. 9-13 list the names] 14 These were from the sons of Gad, captains of the army; the least was over a hundred, and the greatest was over a thousand. 15 These are the ones who crossed the Jordan in the first month, when it had overflowed all its banks; and they put to flight all those in the valleys, to the east and to the west.

A. They were fierce & fast (like lions & gazelles) – again, emphasizing the skill of these warriors. These warriors came from the tribe of Gad, but they were just as skilled as the ones from the tribe of Benjamin.
B. They came to David despite difficulty in doing so – by crossing the Jordan during the flood stage. Speaks of not only their skill, but their great commitment to David. Keep in mind that David had (at this point) not yet been crowned king – but it’s obvious that the people simply trusted in the proclamation of God that David WOULD be king. [Faith in action]

16 Then some of the sons of Benjamin and Judah came to David at the stronghold. 17 And David went out to meet them, and answered and said to them, “If you have come peaceably to me to help me, my heart will be united with you; but if to betray me to my enemies, since there is no wrong in my hands, may the God of our fathers look and bring judgment.” 18 Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, chief of the captains, and he said: “We are yours, O David; We are on your side, O son of Jesse! Peace, peace to you, And peace to your helpers! For your God helps you.” So David received them, and made them captains of the troop.

A. More Benjamites come to David – apparently at the time that Saul was seeking to kill David in the mountains (and David spared Saul’s life). David had a lot of reason to be wary of defectors from Saul’s army at that point – but he was still willing to extend a covenant promise to them if they were faithful. If they were not, David simply looked to the Lord God to judge.
B. The response from their captain (Amasai) was wonderful – speaking under the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, he commits his (and the army’s) life & loyalty to God’s choice as king. They saw the hand of God on his life & that was enough to commit themselves to his service.

a. So many parallels to how we come to faith in Christ! In the midst of our rebellious warring against God, we respond to the invitation of Christ (the Greater-than-David). Through the help of the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves into His hand & into His service & in doing so we’re brought into wonderful peace with God because of the work of the Prince of Peace!

19 And some from Manasseh defected to David when he was going with the Philistines to battle against Saul; but they did not help them, for the lords of the Philistines sent him away by agreement, saying, “He may defect to his master Saul and endanger our heads.” 20 When he went to Ziklag, those of Manasseh who defected to him were Adnah, Jozabad, Jediael, Michael, Jozabad, Elihu, and Zillethai, captains of the thousands who were from Manasseh. 21 And they helped David against the bands of raiders, for they were all mighty men of valor, and they were captains in the army. 22 For at that time they came to David day by day to help him, until it was a great army, like the army of God.

A. The worry of defection was not for Manasseh, but for David. Recall that during Saul’s final battle, David had been appearing to show loyalty towards the Philistines – specifically towards King Achish, for whom David had become virtually a right-hand man. To this point, David had not actually attacked any Israelites, but had attacked their enemies. For the Philistine lords (commanders) about to go to battle against Saul & the Israelite army, they feared to have David along with them, thinking that his loyalty would switch mid-battle, and David would end up fighting against them, so they refused to go to battle with them.
B. Regarding Manasseh, apparently these warriors had joined David about this same time, and they could not help him in battle against Saul – but they could help him in the battle that David went to instead of the one with the Philistines & Israel. They proved themselves to be loyal day-by-day.

23 Now these were the numbers of the divisions that were equipped for war, and came to David at Hebron to turn over the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the LORD:

A. Emphasizes that it was God’s will for David to be king…
B. The following was the list of armies from the various tribes who recognized God’s will in all of this, demonstrating it by their action to follow David. Chronologically, this catches us back up almost to the time of David’s coronation.
C. Vss. 24-37 list the various battle regiments from the tribes – many thousands of warriors who were able to fight alongside David. Some of the names would have been famous among the nation… We’ll just look at a few…

29 of the sons of Benjamin, relatives of Saul, three thousand (until then the greatest part of them had remained loyal to the house of Saul);

A. They likely had remained loyal to Saul during the brief time of division, while David was headquartered in Hebron & the northern tribes were led by Ishbosheth & Abner… Finally, they gave their loyalty to the true king – the king of God’s choosing.
B. One day, we’ll see this happen across every nation when the entire world recognizes Jesus as King & every knee will bow & every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!

32 of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command;

A. Contextually, it seems that the sons of Issachar understood what God was doing in the land, transitioning from the reign of Saul to the reign of David. They knew what Israel’s response ought to have been to it, and they didn’t hesitate to follow through.
B. How important it is to understand the times! Look around at the world today, and it’s not terribly difficult to see prophecy coming true right before our eyes. Israel has reformed as a nation – the visible Church is experiencing a great apostasy – people are wanting their ears tickled, rather than seeking the Lord in repentance & faith through the word of God. It ought to seem obvious that we are truly living in the last days! … Once we understand it, then that tells us what we ought to do: pray for God’s mercy – intercede for the lost – and preach the gospel! Like at no time before, we ought to be participating in the Great Commission – there’s not a moment to lose.

33 of Zebulun there were fifty thousand who went out to battle, expert in war with all weapons of war, stouthearted men who could keep ranks;

A. Once we understand the times, we also need to be willing to act. Among Zebulun (and others), there were skilled warriors who had the bravery & loyalty needed to keep ranks in times of tough battle. They could stand their ground. … That’s exactly what we’re called to do in spiritual warfare: stand! Ephesians 6:13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. []
B. Why stand? Because it’s easy to be swayed! Some new teacher comes along – some new fad sweeps the country – it’s easy to get caught up in the middle of all of it & find ourselves compromising away from the solid truth of the word of God. We need to stand firm against the attacks of the enemy – and the way we do that is by standing fast, grounded in Jesus Christ & the Bible!

38 All these men of war, who could keep ranks, came to Hebron with a loyal heart, to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest of Israel were of one mind to make David king.

A. United in loyalty… (heart) United in purpose… (mind) United around their king. Likewise with the Church today. We’re to be united in Christ Jesus: loyal to Him with all our heart & soul – singularly focused in mind upon what He’s given us to do through His word (the Great Commission), and seeking to give Him the glory in everything that we do.

39 And they were there with David three days, eating and drinking, for their brethren had prepared for them. 40 Moreover those who were near to them, from as far away as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, were bringing food on donkeys and camels, on mules and oxen—provisions of flour and cakes of figs and cakes of raisins, wine and oil and oxen and sheep abundantly, for there was joy in Israel.

A. Celebration! (Preview of wedding feast of the Lamb!)

1 Chronicles 13 (NKJV)
1 Then David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader.

A. David was a king; not a dictator. He listened to the people…
B. Consulting with the people is good, but it must be secondary to consulting with God. That’s where the trouble is going to come in this chapter.

2 And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is of the LORD our God, let us send out to our brethren everywhere who are left in all the land of Israel, and with them to the priests and Levites who are in their cities and their common-lands, that they may gather together to us; 3 and let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we have not inquired at it since the days of Saul.” 4 Then all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.

A. Where was the ark at this time? For 20 years, it was at Kirjath Jearim (1 Sam 6:1-2), left there after the Philistines sent it back. [humiliation of Dagon] Eventually, they had decided to bring the ark back to Jerusalem. Sounds like a noble task! However, it raises a couple of questions.
B. Question #1: Were the people seeking God or seeking the Ark? To refer back to “the days of Saul” in reference to the Ark is interesting. Saul did not use the Ark as a method to truly seek the Lord; he used it as a religious artifact – a good luck charm to take into battle… [] David’s motive was surely different…motivated by a right desire to worship God. Yet it’s difficult to say whether the people were likewise motivated, or if they were still of the mind of Saul.

a. Some people still treat ‘stuff’ like good-luck charms or religious relics. … We don’t worship “stuff”; we worship Jesus!

C. Question #2: It was “right in the eyes of all the people,” but was it right in the eyes of God? There’s no mention here of David, the priests, or the Levites inquiring of the Lord on this matter. If they had, it’s not so much that God would have told them not to bring back the ark – but He definitely would have instructed them on the right way to do it, and what His will was regarding it.

a. Simply because something SEEMS like the right thing to do doesn’t mean that we ought to push forward & go do it. Something can seem right, but be done in the wrong way or at the wrong time or with the wrong motivation. This is why it’s so important to base all of our actions & decisions upon the word of God, and through prayer! [Example: it’s right to seek spiritual revival in the land. It’s wrong to link arms with people who believe in different gods in the process…]

5 So David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor in Egypt to as far as the entrance of Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjath Jearim. 6 And David and all Israel went up to Baalah, to Kirjath Jearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God the LORD, who dwells between the cherubim, where His name is proclaimed.

A. Note that the eyes of the nation were on this event – “all Israel” was involved. Obviously this was a time for the nation to celebrate, but when God acts at this time, all the nation is going to see that as well.
B. Question: does God really dwell “between the cherubim”? After all, heaven is God’s throne & the earth is His footstool (Is 66:1)… No – this is symbolic language. The mercy seat on top of the ark symbolized the throne of God (which is why the blood of the sacrifice was offered there); God is surrounded by angelic beings in Heaven, just as the Ark depicted. Theologically speaking, God is omnipresent. There’s no place in existence where God is ‘not.’ Psalm 139:7-10 (7) Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? (8) If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. (9) If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, (10) Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. []

a. For the believer in Christ Jesus, this ought to be an immensely comforting truth! There’s no place you can go on the planet where God will not be with you – you will never be out of His grasp nor out of His sight. Jesus promised that He’d always be with us & never forsake us, and the omnipresence of God underlines the truth of that promise. Our God is always there!
b. At the same time, for the one who has not yet received the forgiveness of God, this truth can be sobering. No act you do is hidden from His sight – there’s no place you can run that God will not be there. Knowing that God is omnipresent should not cause us to want to flee from Him, but rather flee TO Him – surrendering your life to Jesus & asking for His forgiveness.

7 So they carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart. 8 Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets.

A. Heartfelt worship; incorrect theology. They pulled out all the stops musically & incorporated all sorts of sincere praise – but their theology stunk. The Bible is very specific on how the Ark was to be transported (carried by the Kohathites on their shoulders via poles) – yet David & his companions failed to read the word of God & ended up adopting the pagan Philistine method of transport (ox cart). …
B. Both are necessary! Worship ought to be heartfelt & passionate – regardless of the style of music or your own personal ability to sing, etc. Part of loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength is to express that love to Him – and one of the ways God has given us to do that is through song. (That’s partly why one of the largest books in our Bible is a songbook!) When personal worship is NOT sincere, then we’re just mouthing words – and the Bible condemns (repeatedly) that sort of ritualistic pratter. At the same time, our worship of God ought not be mindless. Those who truly worship God worship Him in spirit AND in truth (Jn 4:24) – the theology behind our singing (or other expressions of worship) absolutely matters! Often seen in hyped up “revivals”… People will come forward with sincere hearts to worship God, but they’re deceived into thinking the way to do it is to bark like dogs, roar like lions, or act like they’re drunk… That’s wrong theology & it’s no better than pagan forms of worship. Worship ought to be BOTH sincere AND true.

9 And when they came to Chidon’s threshing floor, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. 10 Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzza, and He struck him because he put his hand to the ark; and he died there before God.

A. Harsh? Perhaps. Unreasonable? Absolutely not. This underscores the holiness of God. [] God is truly & ultimately HOLY – there is none like God in all of creation.
B. “But wasn’t Uzza trying to do a good thing?” Sure – but sometimes there are more important things than good motives. If someone in front of you fell to the ground with a ruptured appendix, what would be better: call 911 – or attempt to perform surgery yourself? Your motives would be good, but the outcome would be tragic! Likewise with Uzza – his motives were (likely) very good, but the outcome was tragic due to his own “infection” of sin. Given the choice between the ground & the hand of Uzza, the ground was more holy!

11 And David became angry because of the LORD’s outbreak against Uzza; therefore that place is called Perez Uzza to this day.

A. Angry with whom? Was David angry with the Lord – or with himself? Scripture doesn’t say, but most likely it was himself. As the king & representative of God, he had the responsibility to lead his people in seeking the Lord properly. He failed & he knew it.
B. “Perez Uzza” = “Outbreak against Uzza” – there was a lasting legacy attached to that place. Keep in mind that all of the eyes of the nation were upon this event, all of Israel was witness to what had happened. They would have seen Uzza’s death & feared the Lord. (Not unlike with the church & Ananias/Sapphira…)

12 David was afraid of God that day, saying, “How can I bring the ark of God to me?” 13 So David would not move the ark with him into the City of David, but took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 14 The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house three months. And the LORD blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that he had.

A. The event was tragic, but the lesson was learned. Instead of consulting the people about the popular way of doing things, David feared the Lord 1st & foremost, and then sought out the proper way of transporting the ark…

a. How much heartache could we avoid if we simply searched out the word of God in the 1st place?

B. In the meantime, Obed-Edom was blessed. Why? Simply because of his location. He was close to the things of God. The ark was the visual representation of God’s throne – just Obed-Edom’s proximity was reason enough to see the blessings of God.

a. It’s not too different today. How many people are blessed simply because they have Christians in their home or at their workplace? At the very least, they are blessed in that they have a constant witness of the love of God for them – a constant proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ in front of their eyes. Just being around the people of God is a blessing!

1 Chronicles 14 (NKJV)
1 Now Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, with masons and carpenters, to build him a house. 2 So David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel, for his kingdom was highly exalted for the sake of His people Israel.

A. Keep the cedar house in mind for later – it’s going to play a crucial part in the covenant David later receives from the Lord…
B. Why was David established as king? Because God established & exalted him. This is the overarching theme of Ch 14. As glorious as David’s reign was, God is the one to ultimately receive all the glory, because God was the one who did the work. David simply was the recipient of the grace of God… Obviously David sought the Lord, but as he sought God, he saw God work.

3 Then David took more wives in Jerusalem, and David begot more sons and daughters. 4 And these are the names of his children whom he had in Jerusalem: [13 children listed, including Solomon]

A. The Chronicler likely put this in to show David’s greatness. Children are obviously a blessing, and the fact that David had a large family demonstrated the blessing of God that David had received.
B. That said, David was actually in sin regarding the amount of wives that he had. God specifically commanded the kings not to multiply wives for themselves (Deut 17:17) – and David personally found out the danger of having a heart that strayed from woman to woman. His family eventually paid a huge price for it.

8 Now when the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over all Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. And David heard of it and went out against them. 9 Then the Philistines went and made a raid on the Valley of Rephaim. 10 And David inquired of God, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?” The LORD said to him, “Go up, for I will deliver them into your hand.” 11 So they went up to Baal Perazim, and David defeated them there. Then David said, “God has broken through my enemies by my hand like a breakthrough of water.” Therefore they called the name of that place Baal Perazim.

A. Interesting contrast with the Ark episode (which chronologically seemed to happen after these events, per 2 Samuel). With the Ark, David had not inquired of the Lord & they experienced quite a bit of tragedy. With the Philistines, David DOES inquire of God to vastly different results. David could have responded from just his gut – instead, he takes the time to inquire of God.

a. How important it is to seek the Lord & not rely on assumption! True – the responsibility of a king was to protect his people in battle, but David was not going to go off half-cocked without knowing the will of God on the matter. It ought to be no different with us. There are certain trials that come up in our lives in which we’ll have the tendency to just “react” without perhaps reacting in the way God would have for us.
b. How do we do this? By getting into the word of God NOW. Get the word of God into your heart, so that you do not sin against Him (Ps 119:11). The more your mind is inwardly transformed & renewed, the more we’ll naturally understand what the will of God is in any given situation as it arises.

B. David may have participated in the defeat of the Philistines, but who was the one who is credited with the deliverance? God. God gave David & the Israelites a strong victory – very picturesque in the description, “like a breakthrough of water.” Like torrents of water rushing forth (the picture Jesus gave of the Holy Spirit – Jn 7:38) God showed forth His power in an overflowing way.

12 And when they left their gods there, David gave a commandment, and they were burned with fire.

A. Destroying the idols left behind… David doesn’t want any temptation for the people to go follow idolatry. The account in 2 Samuel 5:21 indicates that David carried off the idols – but there’s no contradiction. Apparently, he carried them off first, and then burned them when they got the chance.

13 Then the Philistines once again made a raid on the valley. 14 Therefore David inquired again of God, and God said to him, “You shall not go up after them; circle around them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees.15 And it shall be, when you hear a sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall go out to battle, for God has gone out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.”

A. Similar situation as to the 1st battle, but a vastly different response from the Lord… God changed the plan. God is God – He’s got the right to do that sort of thing.  We actually see this demonstrated in the various ways Jesus chose to heal. Sometimes He spoke a word – sometimes He made mud – sometimes He touched a person. We can be sure that God is always going to glorify Himself – but we can never be sure that God is going to be boxed in to any particular method of doing so.
B. Like David, we need to be willing to continually seek God. It’s not a one-time thing, and then over & done with. We’re to continually be in the Scripture – continually going before the Lord in prayer – continually seeking His face.

a. Obviously that doesn’t mean we should never act. God’s given us a brain & a body. Once we know what to do, we ought to do it! But the best way to know the will of God is to continually feed on the word of God – it’s our daily bread.

16 So David did as God commanded him, and they drove back the army of the Philistines from Gibeon as far as Gezer. 17 Then the fame of David went out into all lands, and the LORD brought the fear of him upon all nations.

A. Victory again…
B. God continued to exalt David.

Conclusion:
Different ways of seeking the Lord here:
• Ch 12: seeking God by serving the future king
• Ch 13: forgetting to seek God & stumbling along the way
• Ch 14: seeking God & giving Him the glory for His work

The application should be obvious. Are YOU seeking God’s will through His word? Too often, it’s easy for Christians to go on “autopilot”…beware! You’ll likely end up stumbling like David & Uzzah in the process. Seek God continually through prayer & the word – He’s your Lord & King, so listen to Him!

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