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William Shepard

The Removal of the Ark

For more than seventy years the ark had remained in the town of Kirjath-Jearim, at the house of Aminadab. But David thought that now it would be proper to bring it out of that city and carry it to Jerusalem, and there to keep it and offer before it those sacrifices and other honors with which God was well pleased. He called together all the priests, and the Levites, and the captains of the army, and the young men and maidens, and they went in solemn procession to the city of Kirjath-Jearim. And they took the ark and laid it upon a new cart drawn by oxen. Before it went the king, playing on his harp, and the multitude followed singing, some of them with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, and so they brought the ark to Jerusalem. Now the ark, it will be remembered, could be touched only by the priests. It happened that, as the procession was nearing the city, the ark was jolted, and nearly fell from the cart. One of the drivers, whose name was Uzzah, stretched out his hand and took hold of it. And the Lord was angry at him, because he was not a priest and yet touched the ark, and struck him dead.

Then David was afraid that if he received the ark into his house he might suffer as Uzzah had suffered. So he stopped on the way and left it in the house of a righteous man named Obededom, who was a Levite. Here the ark remained for three months, and the Lord blessed Obededom while it remained there, so that he who had been a poor man became rich and prosperous, and the object of envy to all. Then David was encouraged to believe that the Lord would bless him also if the ark was in his house, so he called together the priests, and with seven companies of singers they went to the house of Obededom and took away the ark and put it in the tabernacle which David had built for it in his garden. David was with them while they moved the ark, and he played on his harp and sang and danced with the multitude. Then, when the ark had been placed in the tabernacle, he offered costly sacrifices, and blessed all the people, and gave to each one of them a loaf of bread and a cake, together with a portion of the sacrifices.

Michal, David's wife, had seen him dancing before the ark, and she despised him for it, and reproved him when he entered the palace, saying that so great a king ought not to be seen dancing with the common people. But he answered that he was not ashamed to do what was pleasing to God.

When the king looked around his palace and saw how beautiful it was and how comfortable and convenient, he thought within himself that it was not right to keep the ark of God in a tabernacle while he was in the enjoyment of all these good things. He consulted with a prophet named Nathan, whether he might not build a splendid temple in which the ark could be placed. Nathan at first told him he might do as he chose. But in the night-time God appeared to the prophet and bade him tell David not to build the temple. "For David," said God, "has fought in a great many wars, and his hands are defiled with the blood of his enemies. But after his death there shall be a temple built by a son of his, who shall be called Solomon, and who will be a man of peace and have no blood on his hands." Therefore David did not go on to build the temple, but he rejoiced to learn that he should have a son who would reign after him, and he gave thanks to God.