By Faith David...Hebrews 11:32-34 & 1 Chronicles 13
Our text this morning is found in Hebrews 11:32-34, “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets- who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.”.
Three weeks ago we considered the faith of Jephthah. In that sermon we highlighted the bold faith of Jephthah.. And yet, we also noticed that Jephthah’s faith was not a mature and perfected faith.
This was because Jephthah had grown up in a culture that had done what was right in their own eyes. He lived among a people who did what was evil in the eyes of the LORD for many years. Because of this, when God began to raise him up Jephthah did not have long to prepare for the task that was placed before him.
There is an inherent danger in this type of situation. This is why one of the qualifications for an elder in the New Testament is that he must not be a recent convert or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil (1 Timothy 3:6).
We saw that because Jephthah did not have a mature faith he made a very foolish vow that was unnecessary.It was unnecessary to make this vow because Jephthah was called by God. God had already given the Holy Spirit to Jephthah so that he could have success. And yet, despite all of this Jephthah made a foolish vow. It was a vow that he did not have to makeand the scriptures warn against such vows (Proverbs 20:25). Nor was it a vow that the LORD had not already made a way of escape from having to carry out but Jephthah was unaware of the teaching of scripture in regards to such things (Leviticus 5:4-6, 27:1-8).
One of the last statements that was made in that sermon was that ‘Great sins are often committed because of our ignorance of the truth of Scripture.’ (Timothy 1:13)If only Jephthah, his daughter, his family members or his neighbors would have known the full counsel of the Word of God. If they had it would have directed them in what to do concerning all of these things. Because of they did not know the word of God Jephthah’s daughter died.
As we came to the end of that sermon we wondered what would have happened if after all of this happened Jephthah would have realized that the scriptures had provided instruction in regards to these very things?
In that moment his heart would have been full of anguish and remorse. And yet, we also saw that even in that moment Jephthah would have an opportunity to receive forgiveness. This is exactly what the apostle Paul had to do. In 1 Timothy 1:13 he admits that he had been a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent opponent of the gospel concerning Jesus Christ. Paul had tried to destroy the church. When Paul considered these things he confessed, “I am the chief (the foremost) of sinners.” But then he says, “But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief…”. (1:13) Paul, like all of us can receive this mercy through Christ because He came into the world to save sinners. When we become aware of our sins we are to repent of them and believe the Good News concerning all that God has done through Christ.
I have taken the time to remind us of these things because we will see some of these same things in our text about King David. When we consider the faith of David we quickly realize that what the author of Hebrews says is true, “For time will fail me to speak of all things concerning the faith of this man!”. By faith David almost single-handedly can be described as a man through whom God ‘conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, escaped the edge of the sword, was made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.”.
I would like to consider the faith of David by considering 1 Chronicles 13.
In 1 Chronicles 13:1-4 we read, “David consulted with the commanders of thousands, and of hundreds, with every leader. And David said to all the assembly of Israel, ‘If it seems good to you and from the LORD our God, let us send abroad to our brothers who remain in all the lands of Israel, as well as to the priests and Levites in the cities that have pasture lands, that they may be gathered to us. Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.’ All the assembly agreed to do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.”
David, who has loved the LORD since he was a young boy, desires to bring the ark of God into the city of Jerusalem. David loves the LORD. David wants to honor the LORD and worship Him in a way that has not been done in a very long time. David desires to be near thepresence of the LORD so he plans to set up the Tabernacle in Jerusalem. All of this gives us a picture of the faith that David had concerning the things of God. In fact, if you go home and read 1 Chronicles 16:8-36 you will see the profound nature of David’s faith expressed in a ‘Song of Thanks’ that he sang when the ark was placed in the tent in Jerusalem.
We are told in 1 Chronicles 13:1 that ‘David consulted (conferred, talked)with the commanders of thousands, and of hundreds, with every leader’. The word ‘consulted’ implies that David deliberated with these men.They exchanged counsel together. They deliberated together and through this process they all resolved to take a particular action.
As we consider these verses let’s imagine that everything described in 1 Chronicles 13:1 took some amount of time. We don’t know how long this process took but it appears that David has cast his vision and then allowed a discussion to take place among all of these leaders. Proverbs 11:14says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 15:22says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”
At some point in this process David calls upon all of these people to make a decision. David strands before all of the assembly and says, ‘If it seems good to you and from the LORD our God, let us send abroad to our brothers who remain in all the lands of Israel, as well as to the priests and Levites in the cities that have pasture lands, that they may be gathered to us. Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.’ All the assembly agreed to do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.’ (1 Chronicles 13:2-4)
Let me point your attention to a few things that David says here. First, I would assume that in the midst of all of the discussions, the counsel, and the deliberations that the people have been individually and corporately seeking the will of God. I say this because David appears to assume that each of these leaders is godly and does not desire, as the people did throughout the book of Judges, to only do what ‘seemed good to them’ but that they desire to do what the LORD desires above all else (2). David says, “If it seems good to you and from the LORD our God…”. Therefore, one of the goals that David has in these deliberations is to renew the faith of the people and to do what pleases the LORD.
Secondly, notice that David wants to invite the whole nation to be a part of this so he says, ‘...let us send abroad to our brothers who remain in all the lands of Israel.’ Just as important, David knows that it is very important that the priests and the Levites play a key role in all of the things that are being talked about here. I appreciate these things because if we just read 1 Chronicles 13:1 we might think that David was only gathering his military leaders, his officers, and other leaders to do these things. But now we see that David knows the importance of the priests and Levites and the role that they should play in this.
Third, notice that David confesses a sin that the people had committed for quite some time. He says, ‘Let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.’ David has a righteous ambition. David has a holy ambition. He wants to see a spiritual and cultural change in Israel as they begin again to seek the LORD from this time forward.
Observation 1: Throughout Israel’s history we see God’s people fall away from the LORD and become idolatrous. At some point a godly king would sit upon the throne of David and he would begin to do what David does here. That godly king would repent and seek the LORD. However, many of them would stop short of cleansing all the land of idolatry and seeking the LORD with all their hearts. For example, they would not tear down the high places or remove the ashteroth poles.
In scripture David is often held up as the example of what ought to be done. We see in our text today that David had to bring reformation to the land and seek the LORD fully. David had to confront sin, repent of it, and then seek the LORD. All of these things reminds us of David’s faith for which he is commended in Hebrews 11.
Observation 2: As we saw in the life of Jephthah there can be an inherent danger when we turn from our sin and seek the LORD for the first time. When the LORD has been forsaken there can be unforeseen situations that arise which we do not know enough of the scriptures to handle well.
Proverbs 19:2 says, “Desire without knowledge is not good, whoever makes haste with his feet misses the way.” Therefore, when we repent and turn to the LORD our greatest priority is to begin to know the Word of God and be transformed by it so that we can discern what the will of God is (Romans 12:1-2). Despite all the good things David and the people of Israel are doing they are about to encounter a problem because they do not know the full counsel of the Word of God.
Finally, in 1 Chronicles 13:4 we see how the leadership responds to David’s words, ‘All the assembly agreed to do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.’
After this decision is made we see in 1 Chronicles 13:5-8 all the things that begin to be done. We read, “So David assembled all Israel from the Nile of Egypt to Lebo-hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim. And David and all Israel went up to Baalah, that is, to Kiriath-jearim that belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord who sits enthroned above the cherubim. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart, from the house of Abinadab, and Uzzah and Ahio were driving the cart. And David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.”
Imagine the great throng of people who had come from as far as the Nile of Egypt in the south to Lebo-hamath in the north. This great throng of people had come from all around at great distances to do something special. They were going to bring up the ark of God on which the LORD sits enthroned above the cherubim.
As the ark was being moved we are told that all of Israel was celebrating with all their might with song as many instruments were being played. It was a joyful time and the people celebrated and worshiped as they went along. And yet, in all of these things not one person, not one Levite, not one priest, not one scribe, not one person from any of the twelve tribes noticed that it was forbidden to move the ark by cart. Because of this one mistake this celebration was about to come to an end with devastating consequences.
We read of these things in 1 Chronicles 13:9-10, “And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to take hold of the ark, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God.”
On their journey to Jerusalem Uzzah instinctively grabbed the ark when the oxen stumbled. Immediately the anger of the LORD was kindled and he was struck down dead. The people around him who witnessed these things immediately stopped dancing. The music ceased to play. The joyful celebration quickly ended. These things were replaced with questions, fears, anger and sorrow.
1 Chronicles 13:11-12 tells us how David responded in this moment. We read, “And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzza to this day. And David was afraid of God that day, and he said, “How can I bring the ark of God home to me?”
I would think that it would be hard for you and I to imagine the extremes that these people experienced on this day. One minute their faith seemed unshakable and the next it was shattered. For the first time in such a long time the people had all gathered together to do what was right in the eyes of the LORD. They gathered with great joy as they celebrated the LORD their God in worshipful praise. And yet, they had neglected to fully obey the Word of God and in the middle of the journey the anger of the LORD was provoked and Uzzah died.
King David is a man of great faith. He has done so many things well so why has this happened? This seems unfair. It seems unjust. Is God unjust? David, the man of faith, is now having a crisis of faith. David, who had wanted to seek the LORD and to bring the ark into Jerusalem, now was unwilling to bring the ark into the city. His joy was replaced with anger. His desire to be close to the LORD has now been replaced with fear.
We read in 1 Chronicles 13:13-14, “So David did not take the ark home into the city of David, but took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of God remained with the household of Obed-edom in his house three months. And the Lord blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that he had.”
How will the faith of David and the people of Israel survive this moment? What will have to happen so that David’s anger against God can be resolved? What will have to happen so that David’s fear can be overcome and the ark of God can be brought into Jerusalem?
One of the reasons I liked this passage is because it is comforting to realize that a man like David who had such a commendable faith experienced these sort of things. Many of us have experienced things in life and it left us angry with God. We have experienced things that have left us fearful about drawing near to God. Our faith is sometimes shaken and we wonder if we can recover.
We encounter certain things and we wonder if we will ever say again, “I will tell of all of His wonderful works!”? (16:9)
At times we may wonder if our hearts will ever again seek the LORD continually and rejoice? (16:10-11)
We may wonder if we will ever be able to remember His wonderful works, His miracles and His judgments that He has uttered? (16:12)
We will sometimes wonder if we will ever be able to have confidence again that God has chosen us, adopted us, and will give us an inheritance? (16:13)
We may wonder if we will ever be able to sing to the LORD and tell of His salvation day to day? (16:23)
We may wonder if we will ever be able to say, “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice...the LORD reigns!”? (16:31)
We may wonder if we will ever be able to say again, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!”? (16:34)
In 1 Chronicles 13 David stopped praising God, he stopped worshiping God, he stopped bringing the ark of God into Jerusalem. His joy became despair. His commitment to do something with the people of Israel wavered. This man of faith was fearful and his faith in God was faltering.
Would David recover?
David would recover and it seems that it did not take all that long. 1 Chronicles 15helps to explain how this happened. Within only a few short months David would once again determine to bring the ark of God into Jerusalem. What gave him the faith and confidence to do this?
David returned to Jerusalem and began to read the scriptures. After doing so he began to prepare a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it in Jerusalem. We read in verse 1, “David built houses for himself in the city of David. And he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it.”
Because David had read the scriptures he knew why things had gone so terribly wrong that day. We read in verse 2, “Then David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister to him forever.”
David continues, “You are the heads of the fathers' houses of the Levites. Consecrate yourselves, you and your brothers, so that you may bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, to the place that I have prepared for it. Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.” (12-13)
When David went to the Scriptures he learned what he needed to know and his faith was strengthened, he began to worship the LORD again, his resolve to complete their task was restored. This time, however, everything was done according to the Word of God and the LORD helped them complete this task (15:26).
Jephthah and David have both shown us the importance of knowing the Word of God as we live out our faith in every area of our lives. David has also shown us the necessity of continuing to draw near to God and His Word even when we experience a crisis of faith. If our faith is replaced with fear and our affection for the LORD is replaced with anger we should soon return to prayer, worship, fellowship, reading the Word, etc. Yet, all to often we do the opposite. We pull away from the LORD. We loosen our grip upon Christ. We stop reading the Word, stop praying, stop remembering our baptism, stop taking communion, cease to fellowship with believers, stop joining the church and serving.
Our text today, however, reminds us that like David,
When we encounter these times there can be reason to be confident in our faith and continue to say, “I will tell of all of His wonderful works!” (16:9)
Like David we should not shrink back but we should seek the LORD continually with thankfulness and joy. (16:10-11)
Like David we shouldstrive to remember the wonderful works of God, His miracles and His judgments that He has uttered. (16:12)
Like David we should be confident andconfess in faith that God has chosen us, adopted us, and will give us an inheritance. (16:13)
Like David we should in faith sing to the LORD and tell of His salvation day to day. (16:23)
Like David we should respond in faith and say, “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice...the LORD reigns!”? (16:31)
Like David we should respond in faith and say, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!”? (16:34)
Is it any wonder, after considering these things, that David had such a high view of God’s word. It was God’s word that gave him the answers he needed, sustained his faith, deepened his love and overcame his anger and fears.
It should not surprise us that David could say unashamedly inPsalm 56:3-4, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid…”
Or inPsalm 138:2David says, “I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.”