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.