The Instruments of God

6      2016-07-27     Audio


To further demonstrate the sovereign rule of God over all history, the Book of Samuel emphasizes God's use of instruments. What better illustration of God's kingship than that every feature of creation ultimately serves as an instrument in His hands. We are all instruments—either honoring or dishonoring, but we are all instruments. God employs living instruments as well as inanimate instruments for His purposes and glory.


a. Priests

1 Samuel 2:28–29 - Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. [29] Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’

1 Samuel 2:35 - And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever.

This prophetic word was met in Solomon’s appointment of Zadok, but as Delitzsch put it, it was exhausted there.

“Ultimate fulfillment would come only in Jesus the Christ, the supremely Anointed One” (Youngblood, 588).

“Although Zadok and Melchizedek were clearly two different people, the obvious connection between their names may not be unintentional. In his high-priestly office, Jesus brings the ministry of both men to full fruition” (Youngblood, 588).

Hebrews 5:10 - being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 6:20 - where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Genesis 14:18 - And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)

Hebrews 7:1 - For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,

1 Samuel 22:16–18 - And the king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s house.” [17] And the king said to the guard who stood about him, “Turn and kill the priests of the LORD, because their hand also is with David, and they knew that he fled and did not disclose it to me.” But the servants of the king would not put out their hand to strike the priests of the LORD. [18] Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn and strike the priests.” And Doeg the Edomite turned and struck down the priests, and he killed on that day eighty-five persons who wore the linen ephod.

1 Samuel 22:22–23 - And David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father’s house. [23] Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping.”

2 Samuel 8:17 - and Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were priests, and Seraiah was secretary,

2 Samuel 15:24 - And Abiathar came up, and behold, Zadok came also with all the Levites, bearing the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God until the people had all passed out of the city.

b. The Ark of the Covenant

“A key theme of the ark narratives (1 Sam 4–7) is that God refuses to be manipulated. Carrying the ark into battle does not guarantee an Israelite victory (cf. 4:3–11), placing the ark in a Philistine temple does not insure divine blessing (cf. 5:1–6:12), and looking into the ark brings death (cf. 6:19; cf. also 2 Sam 6:6–7). If the ark’s exile at Kiriath Jearim (cf. 1 Sam 6:21–7:2) coincided with the end of the period of the judges, its triumphal entry into Jerusalem (cf. 2 Sam 6:16) confirmed that a new day had dawned for God’s people” (Youngblood, 561).

1 Samuel 3:3 - The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.

1 Samuel 4:3–6 - And when the people came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” [4] So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. [5] As soon as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. [6] And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, “What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” And when they learned that the ark of the LORD had come to the camp, [7] the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “A god has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. [8] Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness. [9] Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, lest you become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you; be men and fight.” [10] So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and they fled, every man to his home. And there was a very great slaughter, for thirty thousand foot soldiers of Israel fell. [11] And the ark of God was captured, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died. [12] A man of Benjamin ran from the battle line and came to Shiloh the same day, …[17] and said, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has also been a great defeat among the people. Your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.” [18] As soon as he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years. [19] Now his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant, about to give birth. And when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed and gave birth, for her pains came upon her. [20] And about the time of her death the women attending her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer or pay attention. [21] And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. [22] And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

1 Samuel 5:2 - Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon.

1 Samuel 6:5–6 - … give glory to the God of Israel. Perhaps he will lighten his hand from off you and your gods and your land. [6] Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had dealt severely with them, did they not send the people away, and they departed?

1 Samuel 6:9 - and watch. If it goes up on the way to its own land, to Beth-shemesh, then it is he who has done us this great harm, but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us; it happened to us by coincidence.”

“Beth Shemesh was a Levitical city set aside for the clan of Kohath, the Levitical family charged with responsibility of caring for the ark of the covenant (Num 4:4, 15) and was also a designated home for the descendants of Aaron (cf. Josh 21:13–16).” (Bergen, 102).

Numbers 4:2–6 - “Take a census of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, by their clans and their fathers’ houses, [3] from thirty years old up to fifty years old, all who can come on duty, to do the work in the tent of meeting. [4] This is the service of the sons of Kohath in the tent of meeting: the most holy things. [5] When the camp is to set out, Aaron and his sons shall go in and take down the veil of the screen and cover the ark of the testimony with it. [6] Then they shall put on it a covering of goatskin and spread on top of that a cloth all of blue, and shall put in its poles.

1 Samuel 6:19–20 - And he struck some of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked upon the ark of the LORD. He struck seventy men of them, and the people mourned because the LORD had struck the people with a great blow. [20] Then the men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the LORD, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?”

1 Samuel 7:2 - From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.

1 Samuel 7:3 - And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.”

1 Samuel 7:13 - So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.

[Then Israel demands a king!]

Deuteronomy 12:10–11 - But when you go over the Jordan and live in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and when he gives you rest from all your enemies around, so that you live in safety, [11] then to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to the LORD.

2 Samuel 6:2 - 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.

2 Samuel 6:7 - 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.

“Consider that no sin against a great God can be strictly a little sin, though compared with a greater one it may be. But however little it is, to account it so makes it greater. And the nature of the greater sin is in the least; a spark of fire, a drop of poison have the nature of much more, indeed, of all (James 2.10). God has severely punished sins that have been looked upon as little sins, indeed, some of them well-meant sins, as when Uzzah took hold of the Ark when the cart shook (2 Samuel 6.6,7). When men only looked into the Ark, it cost them dear (1 Samuel 6.19). Gathering a few sticks on the Sabbath was severely punished (Numbers 15.32-36). These seem to be small matters, but in sin we must not consider so much what is forbidden as why it is forbidden, and who forbids it. ” (Venning, 1669).

“We must not commit anything that is evil out of a good intention, if it be an evil, but stand at a distance from it. Do not turn aside to any crooked path upon any pretence soever. Some have a good action but a bad aim. Now these do, as it were, make God serve the devil; they do the action which God hath required, but their aim is that which gratifies Satan. There are others that have a good aim but a bad action. These make the devil serve God, as if God could not provide for his own glory well enough without their sin. Therefore, if it be an evil way, refrain it, though you think you may bring good out of it. Saul would be offering sacrifice, an unwarrantable action for him to invade the priestly office, 1 Sam. 13:13, 14, He was loath to go to battle until he had sacrificed, and would not tarry till Samuel came. What then? See what Samuel saith, ‘Thou hast done foolishly; thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God which he commanded thee.’ Here was a good aim, but a bad action, and you see how severe judgment fell upon him. I say, he forfeited his kingdom by doing an undue action, though for a good end. Uzzah he put forth his hand to stay the ark, which was an undue circumstance; he had a good aim in it, that the ark of God might not be shaken, that it might not fall and be shattered in pieces, and the mysteries of their religion prostituted: 2 Sam. 6:7, ‘And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote him there for his error, and he died.’ Many think to bear out themselves by good intentions that are drawn into an evil way; they hope to bring things to a better pass. It is dangerous to step out of God’s way; God’s ends can best be brought about by God’s way. The judgments of the Lord upon these nations have been mainly for unwarrantable actions upon good intentions; and though usually we have committed one sin to help another, yet there hath been a pretence of a good intention, a good aim.” (Manton, 30).

“For the third time in the books of Samuel (cf. 1 Sam 5:3–12; 6:19–20), the Lord had demonstrated that he was capable of defending the ark” (Bergen, 330).

Numbers 4:15 - And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, as the camp sets out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry these, but they must not touch the holy things, lest they die. These are the things of the tent of meeting that the sons of Kohath are to carry.

  1. disobedience in method of transportation (6:3)
  2. disobedience in priestly appointment (no evidence that he was a Kohathite)
  3. disobedience in reverencing the Ark as holy (he touched it)

“As if to emphasize the threshing floor as the locale of Uzzah’s death, the narrator states not only that Uzzah died 'there' but also that God struck him down 'there'” (Youngblood, 871).

“Touching the ark, the throne of the divine glory and visible pledge of the invisible presence of the Lord, was a violation of the majesty of the holy God. 'Uzzah was therefore a type of all who with good intentions, humanly speaking, yet with unsanctified minds, interfere in the affairs of the kingdom of God, from the notion that they are in danger, and with the hope of saving them' (O. v. Gerlach).” (Delitzsch, 591).

2 Samuel 6:8 - And David was angry because the LORD had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day.

“An Israelite tragedy was exactly what he attempted to avoid, and when Uzzah died, the king memorialized the event by renaming the accident site 'Perez Uzzah' (= 'Uzzah’s Breach'/'The Outburst against Uzzah').” (Bergen, 330).

Brueggemann notes the fear generated by this event was positive, for 'when people are no longer awed, respectful, or fearful of God’s holiness, the community is put at risk.'” (Bergen, 330).

“John H. Stek observes that the fate of Uzzah brings to mind 'the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, Lev. 10:1, 2; Achan, Josh. 7; and Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:1–11; all of whom failed to take Yahweh’s rule seriously—at the dawn of new eras in the history of the kingdom of God' (The Former Prophets, p. 69).” (Youngblood, 871–872).

2 Samuel 6:13 - And when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal.

Now they obeyed (Num 4:15). A voluntary offering after six steps suggests symbolic significance: like a Sabbath rest, a consecration of the entire journey as holy unto the Lord.

Exuberant joy flows from delighting in the presence of a holy God, made possible by consecration. Joy follows obedience.

2 Samuel 6:14 - And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod.
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