Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Worship and the Ark Narrative in 1 Chronicles, pt. 3

Despite wonderful intentions and likely a very good heart, David had been wrong on the outward appearance, the actual doing of the worship with the ark in 1 Chronicles 13 (part one).  He could have concluded that God was done with him, but God communicated that He wasn't finished through various means in 1 Chronicles 14 (part two).  These are the first two chapters of the ark narrative in 1 Chronicles, which sits at a pivotal place in the book, so as to emphasize worship of God.  And what is the emphasis in this emphasis on worship?

The emphasis isn't the spirit of the worship, although that is likely why David's good intentions did matter in that certain way.  If he didn't care, he could have been a replay of Nadab and Abihu.  David put a lot of oomph into his worship effort with the musicians and the rest of the display of ceremonial grandeur.  He's not going to stop that.  However, the emphasis is on what is that people are doing, what they are actually giving God.

We live in an era in which people deny objective beauty.  This smacks in the face of Christian history.  It also defies logic and natural law.  If there is no beauty, then there is no ugliness, and then it doesn't really matter what we serve up to God, except that we like it.  In the modern and postmodern anthropocentric world view, beauty is a matter of personal taste.  It was never thought that way by Christians until those of this age.  It wasn't even how people thought in Western Civilization until the Enlightenment.  What this does for church growth is attract unbelievers, because they are totally into personal taste.  The church relates with the world more than ever.  Much more to say here, but let us move on within the ark narrative itself.

One sort of odd point in chapter 15 is the first verse, and only the first half, which takes a brief detour to David making him houses.  Houses, plural.  Whaaat?  Likely this emphasizes the polygamy of David and the distraction that way.  I believe it is a mini shot at David and a small reminder of something that threw him off his game.  There is a contradistinction with David's "houses" and God's tent.  David would lose out on opportunity to please God with his self-gratification.  Narcissism does that kind of thing.  Let that be a lesson.  Our own agenda can be a distraction from the necessary time required not to skip things like priests carrying the ark on poles.  Putting that aside then, we move on to the subject at hand, the ark moving to Jerusalem.

We see David adjusting his initial approach, this time paying attention to what God had said about worship.  He prepared a place to put the ark, a tent.  Later would come the Solomonic temple, but for now, it was the same house as had served during the trek through the wilderness.  That had worked because it was Scriptural.  David wanted something more extravagant, but he would never have that opportunity.

In v. 2, we see David get back on the right track by taking care of some of the detail he had missed the first time as non-essential.  The Lord chose only certain people to do certain things.  For instance, He hasn't chosen certain people to pastor churches, as seen in 1 Timothy 3.  People are disqualified, including all women.  Protesting that doesn't help men or women.

And then we see that part of the worship was gathering.  A lot is put into that in chapter 15, listing various peoples and groups that were part of the assembly.  Corporate worship requires getting together.  People have to deem God worth it.  Today we're seeing less gatherings, more emphasis on convenience.  Some will say that they don't think they need to assemble to worship God.  When worship is actually gathering, not gathering eliminates the worship, no matter what the intentions might be while someone sits at home maybe watching Charles Stanley or listening to Chuck Swindoll.

(to be continued)

No comments: