Have you been delayed on your way to Zion?

A stronghold overtaken - Fourth in a series

David determined that the ark of the covenant should be in Zion. The ark contained the book of the law. (Deut 31:25, 26) Moreover, it was Israel's special treasure.

He shared this desire with his people, consulting with every leader and gathering all Israel together. (1 Ch 13:1-5) And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul. (1 Ch 13:3)

David knew the importance of the ark, that it had traveled through the wilderness with God's people: when the ark set forward, Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel. (Num 10:35, 36) A cloud covered the tabernacle that sheltered the ark, And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys. (Ex 40:36).

But David was a man of action. From a shepherd guarding his flock from lions and bears to a troop in a succession of battlefields, he was a warrior. Did he have opportunity to read the book of the law which was the more detailed testimony given to Moses relating all the regulations for the people of God?

Perhaps he only knew about it, but not exactly what was in it. He knew the ark had preceeded the Israelites as they crossed over the Jordan River into their promised land, and the waters had parted for the Levites who carried it. It had been in the procession around Jericho, assisting to win the battle, but he did not know the rules for how it was to be carried.

With the best of intentions, he gathered 30,000 "chosen men of Israel" (2 Sam 6:1) and with them, went to Kirjathjearim where it had been taken in the days of Samuel, after the Philistines returned it.

How long had it been there? The Bible does not make this clear, but it was many decades, and David was not yet born when it was removed from the tabernacle at Shiloh; the ark had not been in a proper place of worship for a very long time.

As the ark was carried along to Zion on a cart, the oxen shook it and a man put his hand on it to steady it, and was struck dead by God. This spoiled David's plans, and the goal to bring the ark to Zion was delayed for a time.

Indeed, an aspect of the ark's design were the rings of gold on its four corners which held the staves (poles) overlaid with gold, so that the Levites could carry it without touching it. After David studied to learn this, he pursued the goal a second time, and succeeded.

Like David, in our efforts to please the Lord we may take steps forward and then backward. Yet, if we are open to correction, we will make progress on our way to Zion, the beautiful city of God.

Set your sights on obedience

A stronghold overtaken - Third in a series

We have asked: Why did David take Goliath’s head to Jerusalem? The short answer is: it belonged where God's victories would be proclaimed— in Zion.

Next, David would bring the ark there. The place of government should have the law which was contained in the ark. And the ark meant so much more.

The ark of the covenant had been captured by the Philistines and later returned, but not to Shiloh, for the Lord was seeking out a new residence. Eventually, it was brought to Kirjathjearim in Judah where it remained for 20 years (1 Samuel 7:2), and was also there throughout Samuel's and Saul's lifetimes.

During those years David was anointed King of Israel and warred against Saul's men and the Canaanite nations. He set his sights on capturing Zion, the "sunny mountain" fortress occupied by the Jebusites.

As a Judean (from the tribe of Judah), David had tribal memory of his family's inheritance of Jerusalem. Caleb, who, with Joshua, had searched and spied on Canaan and insisted that the Israelites could possess it, was 85 when he reminded Joshua that Moses had sworn then, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God. (Jos 14:9)

Caleb lived to see his boundaries reflect his faith in God's promises, except for one city in his territory. Misery of miseries, As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day. (Jos 15:63)

So David knew what to do. The command was to take ALL of the land. (Num 33:52-55; Deut 20:17). He would complete the conquest; taking the head of Goliath there confirmed his intention. And as we have noted, David would bring the ark of the covenant there, making it the city of God.

God speaks through this story to the Christian: It is not God's plan for our lives to give place to the enemy. We must drive out the Jebusites, the deriding, mocking jeers that undermine our courage and confidence.

Set your foot down; be firm in your intentions, wholly devoted, zealous (2Ch 16:9), not lukewarm and half-hearted (Rev 3:16).

Build upon your victories. Your instructions are clear.

The Head of Goliath

A stronghold overtaken - Second in a series

Why did David take Goliath's head to Jerusalem? (1 Sam 17:54)

King Saul was presented with the head, but did not retain it as a token of victory. (1 Sam 17:57) No doubt that head had shock value for any who doubted David's prowess, but as we know, David slew Goliath for God's glory, not for his own.

Jerusalem was not wholly Israel's at the time, yet it would seem that David understood that she was Zion, the place where God's victories are prophesied and proclaimed. More on this in the next post, but first, a look at the story of David and Goliath for insight on how to proclaim our own victories in Zion.

The Philistines had gathered at Shochoh in Judah's territory, to the south of Jerusalem. The Israelites had stationed themselves in battle array on a mountain, and a valley separated them from their enemy who stood on an opposite mountain.

This pictures Satan's boast to us that his minions are evenly matched against God's soldiers, mountain to mountain so to speak.

But while we are reflecting on that possibility, he goes further: He wants us to believe he is MORE than a match, to provoke fear in our hearts.

The champion of the enemy nation was Goliath, who stood over six feet tall, possibly much taller, but Bible translations have differences. He wore a brass helmet, a coat of mail (overlapping metal plates) that weighed 5000 shekels of brass (about 125-150 lbs.), had greaves of brass on his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. The staff of his spear was solid and straight like a weaver's beam, its head weighing 600 shekels of iron. He also had a shield bearer. (1 Sam 17:4-7)

Before we read of this confrontation, we learn that the Lord had rejected Saul as Israel's king, so God's people were sheep without a shepherd. Satanic attacks are strategic. We little understand his intelligence and heart.

Goliath taunted Israel morning and evening, and presented himself forty days. …I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. (1 Sam 17:10-16)

Satan, a roaring lion, would wear us down by continual and long trials but God would build us up by this same tactic. We are led to understand the hopelessness of our circumstances unless He provides deliverance. The number 40 in Scripture signifies a period of divine testing.

David, whom Samuel had already anointed as Israel's King (1 Sam 16:13) was jealous for God's honor to take on the challenger. He did it without armor or helper, but by the Spirit of God. This is how we reach Zion as victors.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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