A MAN AFTER GOD’S HEART
The abnormal state of ark and tabernacle in separation lasted for at least twenty years. God suffered long because His ark was not in the tabernacle. The desire of God’s heart was for His building. Finally, God found David, a man after the desire of His own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). Saul was not such a man. Saul walked according to his flesh, his lusts, his own aims. Thus, God raised up David as king over Israel.
Upon taking the throne as king, practically the first thing in David’s heart was to care for the ark. It was in relation to this that Psalm 132 was written. “He [David] sware unto the Lord, and vowed unto the Mighty One of Jacob: surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed, I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids; until I find out a place for the Lord, a tabernacle for the Mighty One of Jacob. Lo, we heard of it in Ephratah: we found it in the field of the wood. [“Of the wood” is in Hebrew “of Jaar.” Jaar is the short form in poetry for Kirjath-jearim.] We will go into his tabernacles; we will worship at his footstool. Arise, O Lord, into thy resting-place; thou, and the ark of thy strength…the Lord hath sworn unto David in truth…the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my resting- place forever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it” (Psa. 132:2-8, 11, 13-14). Psalm 132 reveals the ark and the Lord, which are identified as one. The ark cannot be separated from the Lord Himself. The Lord’s presence is always with the ark, for the ark is the very embodiment of the Lord and the testimony of the Lord.
Although David was such a man after God’s heart, yet before he ascended to the throne he had no authority to act. Once on the throne, however, he had the ground to accomplish God’s will and attempted to bring the ark from Kirjath-jearim to Zion (1 Chron. 13:5). Zion was the choicest location in Jerusalem, and Jerusalem was the best place in the entire land of Canaan. This means that David prepared the first and highest place, the choicest spot, for God’s ark. David’s heart was really for God’s dwelling-place. He was a man after God’s heart, the kind of man God is seeking for His building. May we be such men today. May we seek God’s desire that His dwelling-place may be realized among His people even on this earth today!
A NECESSARY LESSON
David followed God with a sincere heart, but when he sent for the ark he lacked enlightenment. He had a heart for God, but not the light from God; so he acted wrongly. The Philistines had previously used a cart to return the ark to Israel. David thought that that was quite suitable; so he used a new cart to bring the ark to Zion. God tolerated the ignorant Gentiles, but David had to learn the lesson. He had to learn not to do things according to the way of worldly people, but according to the way of God’s holiness. While transporting the ark, David met with an accident. The oxen pulling the cart stumbled, and the ark began to fall; whereupon Uzzah, one of the men, put forth his hand to steady the ark. The fleshly hand tried its best to help, but God never needs such help! If God wants something to fall, we must never attempt to hold it. We had better let it fall; then we will be blessed. Uzzah tried to keep the ark from falling; but not only did the ark fall, but Uzzah himself fell dead. By this death the move of the ark was frustrated, and David was greatly disturbed. He became fearful of the ark and abandoned his attempt to transport it by a cart.
David was indeed wrong in moving the ark according to the worldly way, and he was also mistaken in his human opinion. We must not touch Christ according to the worldly way; we must never touch the testimony of God according to the Philistines’ way; to do so is spiritual death. We must learn to abandon the worldly system and keep our hands off. David should have been enlightened by reading the record of God’s Word. He should have seen the revelation of God and learned the divine way, rather than use the way of the world. We must always touch Christ, the testimony of God, by the divine way revealed in the Word. We should never move on the basis of good in relation to the ark, attempting to do something good for God, even with a good motive or a sincere heart. We must be extremely careful, lest we bring in spiritual death. May we be faithful to God and learn to fear God, not going along with the worldly way, not exercising our human efforts, but rather learning God’s Word, God’s commandment, to do the right thing in the right way. It is not sufficient simply to know the right thing; we must also have the right way. Praise the Lord for the good intentions and motives, but is your way by “the cart,” or by the priests carrying the ark? Are you proceeding according to the worldly system, or according to God’s revelation?
The practice of Christmas affords an example of how Christians attempt to do good for God in a worldly way. Many argue in favor of this holiday. They claim that sending Christmas cards will help others to know Christ. They “preach the gospel” by Christmas cards. But that is doing things in the Philistine way. The card is just like the cart. We need a living testimony to preach the gospel of Christ. We need the living priests to bring Christ to people. Then the issue will be life and not death. We may use many things to illustrate the same principle.
Christianity today loves to take advantage of so many worldly, Philistine systems. They argue, “What is wrong with carrying the ark by a cart?” It may be all right for the world, but it is not all right for us! If we would be men after God’s heart, then we must also be men after God’s mind, after God’s way, not using our minds or our way. We should not have the mind or the way of the people of this world. The cart issues in death.
(The Vision of God's Building, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)