New Carts or Old Poles
by Joseph Franks
Sometimes new carts are overrated and old poles are best. This is especially true when God has decreed his preference for old poles. We see this truth presented for us in 2 Samuel 6:1-7:
David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark. And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day.
In former days, the Israelites found great joy encamping themselves about the Ark of the Covenant. This sacred box represented the throne of God, and when they obediently followed God’s guidance and God’s box, success was near. However, during a season of rebellion, the Israelites lost the Ark of God. Superstitiously they brought the Ark into an unapproved battle, and God allowed his sacred relic to be stolen and transported to Philistia. However, the Philistines found the Ark of God to be dangerous, and after a sore season of time, they returned it to the Israelites who temporarily stored it in the house of Obed-Edom.
Some time later, King David determined to return the Ark to the holy city. His motives were right and pure. He wished to honor God and enjoy the spiritual success that accompanied God’s box. However, in his worship he was not careful to obey the Lord. Instead of transporting the Ark by means of poles on the shoulders of Levitical priests, David utilized “new carts.” In response, God disciplined his worshiping community. David’s disobedience resulted, not in communal dancing, but in anger. God was angry with David, and David was angry with the Lord. The situation would have been entirely different had David used old poles instead of new carts.
Friends, are we seeking to worship God with “new carts” or with old poles? Are we going to worship on Sunday, seeking to honor his name and enjoy spiritual success, while being disobedient and out of accord with his will? Are we ignorers of portions of his Law? Do we disregard some of his precepts? Do we think he will wink and smile at our transgressions simply because we are making a big deal about his Ark, his church, his baptismal font, and his pulpit? Yes, friends, God loves our worship services, and he appreciates our hearts which desire to bring him praise, but to enjoy his sacred presence we must walk in serious obedience to his laws and statutes. May we not be corner-cutting, law-diminishing, innovative and compromising worshipers. For if we are, we too will find ourselves disciplined by our Heavenly Father. Let us gather to worship him this Lord’s Day, with hearts that are panting for his divine presence and also with hearts that long to carefully and precisely obey his good Law.