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God’s Word for You

1 Chronicles 13:13-14 Be our guest

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, December 19, 2023

13 So David did not turn over the ark into his own care into the city of David. He turned aside to the house of Obed Edom the Gittite. 14 The Ark of God remained in the house of Obed Edom for three months, and the LORD blessed the household of Obed Edom and all that was his.

With a careful pen in his first phrase, the author uses the form hesir, the causative of the verb sur. It means to “turn away” (“we have turned away from your commands,” Daniel 9:5) or even “shun” (as in “to shun evil,” Job 28:28; Proverbs 3:7). Here the writer uses the special causative Hebrew stem (the hifil) to show that the king’s intentions had changed. David did not “turn over” the ark of the covenant to himself, into his own care, which had been his plan. This is so remarkable that the scribes and copyists of Old Testament manuscripts noted in the margin that this is the only place where this phrase occurs in the whole Bible.

So David turned aside (a different word) to the nearest house, which was not the home of a natural Israelite. It was the home of a man from Gath (a Philistine by ancestry) named Obed Edom. It is interesting that this was a Philistine home. Perhaps it’s even remarkable. The ark had been captured by the Philistines seventy years before, and when the ark arrived in Judah, the people were afraid to move it and let it remain in the home of the man whose house happened to be where the cart stopped, first at Beth Shemesh, where some men died because of the way they treated the ark, and then at Kiriath Jearim, where the people treated the ark with reverence and were blessed.

Now the same pattern occurs. A man dies because the ark was not handled in the manner God had commanded, and the ark was delivered to the nearest house (and once again, the home of a Philistine, at least by ancestry). The family prospered and were blessed because they treated the ark with respect. David waited until the Lord revealed what he wanted to happen. In this case, that meant that three months went by.

The Lord blessed Obed Edom, and everything he had: his wife and his children, his servants, his fields, his animals, his other property, and even his harvest. Health and general well-being were in his home. Who would we be to say that even his clothing was not especially blessed, as were the shoes of the Israelites in the desert (Deuteronomy 8:4)?

God’s presence and God’s holy angels fight unseen battles all around us. It was not any magical power in the ark, in its wood or gold covering, nor in the pattern of its design. It was that God was pleased to bless this family because they treated his ark with dignity and respect. Obed Edom kept his children and servants from touching it or using it as a shelf or from piling their toys on top of it. We are not told that he did anything like setting up a special tent or shed for it. He took it into his dwelling, whether that dwelling was a tent or a more permanent building. The word bayit can be anything from a palace to a spider’s web (Job 8:14), and so we cannot say that he lived in a tent, just as we cannot say that this Gittite, or man of Gath, was a Levite.

The natural result of reading about Obed Edom is to wonder what it would be like to be blessed by God in everything, in every part of my life? And then the temptation might begin to seethe and simmer, what can I do to earn this; what prayer could I say, what words can I sincerely speak, to bring on God’s blessings in my life?

First, get that seething, simmering pot off the stove at once. We do not do anything to merit or to deserve anything from God. There is no combination of words or sounds or any song tune that will capture God’s attention above all other requests. Rather, put your faith firmly and completely on Christ. For when we trust in God for all things, he gives all things for body and life. “For every absolution, all needs, all blessings, and all our requirements for body and soul, for life here and beyond, are abundantly contained” in the Lord’s Prayer all by itself. For there we remember our flaws, our imperfections, our wretchedness, and our sins. We see that we are hopeless by ourselves, and that we must trust in Christ—not for a little help now and then, but for everything, as a baby must rely on its mother for absolutely everything. In short, from the very first petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Hallowed be your name,” we remember and we are instructed and reminded that God’s name is holy and is to be regarded as holy by us, for God is everything and we are nothing.

When Obed Edom welcomed the ark of God into his home, he treated the presence of God like a most welcome guest; a visitor who did nothing at all apart from make everything better every day, every night, and all the time. We can’t imagine such a guest, because somewhere in our hearts we covet privacy, especially to get away from visitors so that we can return to our own routine without having to entertain or serve all the time. Guests turn us instantly into servants rather than masters, and we want to be masters, even if it’s only in a petty little domain like a living room, an apartment, or a dormitory cell. But when God is our visitor, we set aside all of that nonsense and remember that we are always his servants; he is always our Lord. And so it is good to pray, “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest,” as we do at meal time, to desire to become his servants at all times and in all places, as Obed Edom was. Then we might truly learn what it is to be blessed in everything. For nothing we think we own is really ours, anyway. They will not remain our possessions in death. But service? Service of Christ will be ours in eternity. It is good to learn to cherish our place in his kingdom now rather than wish we had done so when it is too late, and to be a slave only to the lash, the flame, and torment, forever.

Come, Lord Jesus!  Teach us to serve you as our guest, and make us your guests who still want only to serve you in eternity!

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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