I enjoy a cup of soda. I like it cold, or even chilled…but room temperature soda is not really my favorite. It is wet, but it isn’t very satisfying. I think sometimes, our response to God in worship (whether in the organized assembly of church…or in the conduct of our daily lives) can be a bit room-temperature. I mean, God is IMPORTANT to us but He is not ULTIMATE.
In this narrative, God seems like He is having a temper-tantrum. In fact, King David all but says so (v.8). David and the people were doing a “good thing.” They were moving the ark of God to the City of David. This was important work and they approached it as such. David assembled soldiers and singers and musicians with instruments…and he paraded the ark back toward home. This was an IMPORTANT day and an IMPORTANT task. It was IMPORTANT!
Yet, the Ark almost fell off the new ox cart and Perez reached out to steady it. Seem innocuous…even helpful. And God struck him dead on the spot for daring to touch the Ark! It was IMPORTANT to Perez that the Ark not fall off the cart! It was IMPORTANT to not let the Name of God be dishonored.
What was ULTIMATE though…was lost in the fray. As we see later, this event forced David to do a little research. He realized that the ox cart may have been thoughtful but God had left instructions of how the Ark was to be carried and it was not in a wagon. A worship party was important but God demanded that the exuberance of the worshippers be more fitting for the occasion…that it involve lavish sacrifice and unrestrained celebration and dancing! There could be no holding back!! To hold back was to declare that something else (whether pride/dignity/idolatry/whatever) was ULTIMATE and God was only IMPORTANT.
One of the things absolutely clear in this text: God is not interested in being important to us. If He is only important, He is reduced from His rightful place of ULTIMATELY GLORIOUS in all of His creation! Another observation…God doesn’t apologize or step back to console David or try to soften the edge on His actions. He leaves David to pray and research and seek understanding. This experience helped David as he learned to value God above all…to value Him as ULTIMATE (vv.16, 20-22).
The question for us is this: “In our hearts and in our actions…is God IMPORTANT or is He ULTIMATE?”