As King David prepares to bring the Ark of the Covenant back into Jerusalem, something shocking occurs. The Israelites were transporting the ark on a cart driven by oxen because that’s how they saw the Philistines do it. The problem was God commanded them to have the priests carry it on poles. When the ox stumbled, the Ark gets tipsy, and a guy named Uzzah nearby braces it with his hand and God strikes him dead. Needless to say, David didn’t want the Ark near him anymore.
So what did he do? He instructs an unknown priest named Obed-edom, who lives 10 miles outside the city, to take it into his home. And the ark, which just killed a man for touching it, is moved into his living room for 3 months. I know how hard it is to make my children not touch the remote or the electrical socket, can you imagine trying to convince them not to put their grimy hands on the big shiny thing in the middle of the room?
David heard that God was blessing Obed-edom, and so he decided to bring the ark back to Jerusalem, but now, he would do it obeying God’s instructions. David brings the ark into the city with much rejoicing and dancing and the presence of God is symbolically back in the center of God’s people (the part of this story occurs in 2 Samuel 6).
My Favorite Worshiper in the Bible
What happens next changed my life.
When the Bible begins to describe the people in charge in caring for the ark and the temple, Obed-edom’s name comes up time and time again. Obed-edom is in the list as a worship leader on the lyre (1 Chron. 15:21), gatekeeper to the ark (1 Chron. 16:38), and ministering in the tabernacle (1 Chron. 26:4, 12-15), and much more.
Don’t you wish he was on your volunteer team? The guy is absolutely everywhere!
Remember, he lived 10 miles away. He couldn’t just hop in the minivan and make a 10 minute trip there to perform all those duties.
Here’s what we must take from his ability to serve:
Once someone truly experiences the presence of God, he cannot settle for less ever again.
After worshiping the Lord at such a close proximity for 3 months, Obed-edom was addicted to being near God. He couldn’t do without God’s presence. He probably uprooted his family and moved cities so he could be close to the One he loved the most.
I want to be Obed-edom. I want to be obsessed with drawing closer to God.
So what about you? When was the last time you truly experienced the presence of God? You worshiped him so close that any deviation from his presence was too much of a calamity to endure.
Obed-edom shows us that our proximity to God is directly proportional to our productivity for God.
He shows us that there is substitute will ever do once we have truly experienced communing with God.
For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness [Ps. 84:10].
[For more on this thought, check out the sermon “Worship by the Book.”]
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.