In 2008 I headed to the polls to vote in the presidential election. I was living then in the Inner City of D.C. in a completely African-American neighborhood. I think our community house held the only Caucasians in the precinct. That year the African- American demographic came out in force for our current President. I’m not going to discuss the politics, but there was a great moment that happened as I was leaving the polls. An elderly African-American woman gave me one of the deepest, now-you-listen-to-me-son looks as I was coming out the door and asked sternly, “You made the right choice, right?” For a split second, I didn’t know how to reply. What if I hadn’t made the choice she thought was right? Then grace came down, and I replied simply, “Don’t we all, ma’am? Don’t we all make the right choice?” She smiled at my smart-aleck answer, and I kept walking to my car. Have you ever wondered why God chose David to be the next king after Saul? David didn’t have his Political Science degree. He hadn’t made his mark in business and hadn’t yet served in the military. And it was later that he would serve in the king’s court as a musician. He was still a mere boy, a shepherd, and yet God, through Samuel, anointed him to be the next king. Some might say that David must have exhibited good leadership skills as a shepherd, but I don’t buy that at all. You can’t tell me that a young boy had been tested enough to know for sure that he would be a good leader. The man who knew young David best, his own father, Jesse, didn’t even bring him up for consideration when Samuel asked to see his sons. After King Saul fell into rebellion, God sent Samuel to anoint the next king. With the ache of time setting in, do you think God might have been looking for someone who had the conviction and the nerve to make God’s dwelling the centerpiece of his administration? As God looked for a new leader, His eyes settled on a young boy whose heart was fully devoted to Him. David had a harp in his hand and a heart full of love for the Lord. And God voted for this psalmist David to be the next king and sent Samuel with a horn of oil to anoint him. There was much that David could not have yet understood, but he must have at least understood the value of God and loving Him with all his heart. Samuel lifted up the horn of oil and anointed the boy. God had found His man, and, of course, David delivered — big time. After defeating Goliath and doing lots of other warfare, David became King of Israel at the age of thirty, and he ruled for seven years from Hebron. Then David finally found the place God was looking for. According to 2 Samuel 5, the new king conquered the land of the Jebusites and became the founding father of the City of Jerusalem. He moved there and made Jerusalem the governmental capital of Israel for the first time. David then went to the house of Abinadab in Kiriath-Jearim and got the Ark of the Presence of the Lord and proceeded to triumphantly bring it into Jerusalem. I can imagine that the hosts of angels must have been going wild about then, as history was being made. David’s first attempt, however, ended in bitter failure. The Ark began to slip, as it was being carried on an ox cart (which was a violation of the Mosaic Law). A man named Uzzah put out his hand to steady the cart (another violation of the Law), and God struck him dead on the spot. David was understandably taken aback by this, and so he pushed the pause button. I’m guessing that those hosts of angels all sat back in disappointment at that moment, like the home crowd at a hockey game when their team misses an “empty netter.” So close and yet so far away! David now handed the Ark over to a man named Obed-Edom and watched as Obed-Edom’s household received nothing but blessing for the next three months. This caused the king’s heart to be stirred again, and he decided to give it another shot. If the Ark had brought such favor over one man’s house, might not a whole nation be blessed if it was brought into its rightful place? But David wasn’t going to make the same mistakes again. After three months passed, he made absolutely sure everything was done according to God’s protocol. This time, he was careful not to put the Ark on something man-made like an ox cart. Instead, he placed it on the backs of men, priests. There is a great lesson to be learned from this: God desires to dwell in men, not in things made by men. David followed the instructions of the Law to the letter, having priests transport the Ark on poles. And then, with many sacrifices and much dancing, he finally brought God home, into Jerusalem, into the capital city. After five generations, God had found His resting place. I can only imagine the heavenly celebration and the great exhalation of relief. That exhaled breath of Heaven made the next thirty-three years of Israel’s history “The Golden Years.” To this day, the reign of David remains the high-water mark of Israel’s existence as a nation. In spite of a couple of seasons of brokenness, due to David’s moral failures, God just seemed to breathe His favor over everything about the nation. The Ark’s transition, from Obed-Edom’s house to the capital city, carried its blessing from one household to an entire nation. David’s crowning achievement (pun intended) was that he had made the Presence of the Lord the central, primary issue of his life, even when he was a shepherd boy. Later, this same virtue manifested on behalf of his nation through his administration as king. But it wasn’t enough just to bring the Ark to Jerusalem; David’s devotion was deeper than that. David put the Ark under a tent beside his palace in the capital city, and he commissioned a grand total of 4,000 musicians and 288 singers to continuously — day and night — minister to the Lord. Even when he sent armies out to war, the king kept this band of worshippers in place back home, their sole duty to minister to God. Their song of love never stopped. David made God central in every way. His Tent, or, as it is often called, the Tabernacle of David, was the precursor to Solomon’s Temple. Can you imagine what it would have been like to be hired by the king to minister to the Lord? Your full-time job every day would have been to show up at the tent and sing songs of thanksgiving and adoration, “to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord” (1 Chronicles 16:4). Oh, glory to God, I want that job! How do I apply? I want to worship every moment of my life, so that, in eternity, I will already have an experienced résumé. The priests who served in David’s Tabernacle were assigned their time slots by casting lots. Let’s just roleplay this a little. You are chosen to be one of those occupational worshippers. You’ve made it! Then you roll the dice, draw the straw, consult the urim and thummim and bam! You’re on night-watch! Hallelujah! David commissioned this 24/7/365/33 worship tent with the clear instructions of 1 Chronicles 16:8-36
8 “Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
9 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
10 Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
11 Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
12 Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,
13 O seed of Israel His servant,
You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!
14 He is the Lord our God;
His judgments are in all the earth.
15 Remember His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations,
16 The covenant which He made with Abraham,
And His oath to Isaac,
17 And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute,
To Israel for an everlasting covenant,
18 Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
As the allotment of your inheritance,”
19 When you were few in number,
Indeed very few, and strangers in it.
20 When they went from one nation to another,
And from one kingdom to another people,
21 He permitted no man to do them wrong;
Yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes,
22 Saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones,
And do My prophets no harm.”
23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
24 Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.
25 For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised;
He is also to be feared above all gods.
26 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the Lord made the heavens.
27 Honor and majesty are before Him;
Strength and gladness are in His place.
28 Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
Give to the Lord glory and strength.
29 Give to the Lord the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come before Him.
Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
30 Tremble before Him, all the earth.
The world also is firmly established,
It shall not be moved.
31 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
And let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”
32 Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field rejoice, and all that is in it.
33 Then the trees of the woods shall rejoice before the Lord,
For He is coming to judge the earth.[b]
34 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
35 And say, “Save us, O God of our salvation;
Gather us together, and deliver us from the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise.”
36 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel
From everlasting to everlasting!” 1Chronicles 16:8-36, NKJV
Finally, after generations of waiting, God’s presence was now in the place He had always desired to dwell, in the center of everything, in the place of His choosing. He was not only at the center of King David’s heart; He was also at the center, the governmental seat, of the whole nation. Because Jerusalem was in the inherited land of the tribe of Judah, Nahshon and Salmon’s descendants would have been living there with David. Notice that David did not say, “I like it here in Hebron, so I will bring the Ark to my palace. I will make God central, but I will do it where I want that center to be.” That would have been just like those who say, “Jesus is Lord,” but are really only partially surrendered to Him. No, David made the Lord central at the place the Lord desired to dwell. He uprooted his government and moved his palace to a different city, just to position himself so that he could make God’s dwelling in the place God desired. We can’t make the Lord the center of our lives, our cities, our towns and our nations on our own terms. He must decide the terms; we just follow His lead. Everything in Israel now revolved around God, and He lived in Jerusalem. He was finally home! To this day, the geopolitical landscape of the world revolves around that address and the possession of it. Get ready, people, for Jesus will come back to exercise His dominion again. This time, it will be by our invitation: “Come! Lord Jesus, Come!”
Dear Lord Jesus, we receive the grace of making You central in our lives, communities and nations.