God of Our Salvation.
1 Chronicles 15-16, Colossians 1
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:15-17 ESV
In his second attempt to bring the Ark of the Covenant into the city of Jerusalem, David determined to do things God’s way. He had learned a difficult, but invaluable lesson. Rather than obey God’s written commands regarding the transport of the Ark, David had decided to do things his way and the results were disastrous. But he learned from his mistake and developed a deeper reverence for God and His law. This time, David used the Levites to carry the Ark, just as God had prescribed. He treated the Ark with the dignity and honor it deserved because it was a representation of the glory, splendor and presence of God Himself. David brought the Ark into Jerusalem with much pomp and pageantry, with music and praise, dancing and singing. There were offerings and sacrifices made to God. They sang a song of thanksgiving especially written for the occasion. The significance of this event was not lost on David or the people. For the first time in a long time, they were able to receive forgiveness for their sins. The Ark of the Covenant, upon which sat the Mercy Seat of God, was not only a representation of God’s presence, but the means of propitiating or satisfying the wrath of a holy God against their sins. The Ark was the place of propitiation. It had been provided by God Himself for the people so that they could come into His presence, in spite of their sinfulness. The blood of an unblemished animal was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat to atone for the sins of the people, and to turn away the wrath of God. On the annual Day of Atonement, propitiation was made by means of a substitutionary sacrifice. The sins committed by the people that year were atoned for, and the wrath of God was turned away. The significance of this annual sacrifice and the Ark’s role in it did not escape David, which is why his song of thanksgiving expressed such powerful praise to God.
What does this passage reveal about God?
David knew that the existence of Israel as a nation was due to God alone. Their presence in the land of Canaan was His doing. They had been the undeserving recipients of His covenant. They had enjoyed His protection and provision over the years. They had experienced “His salvation from day to day” (1 Chronicles 16:23 ESV). As a result, God deserved their praise, awe, reverence, allegiance, and unwavering fidelity. David knew that, without God, the nation of Israel would have been nothing. His kingdom would be non-existent. And without God’s mercy, grace and forgiveness made available through the place of propitiation – the Mercy Seat – their sinfulness would have made it impossible for them to stand before His presence. David recognized God’s unbelievable love, expressed through His provision of the sacrificial system and, most specifically, through the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat itself. That is why David would write, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth” (1 Chronicles 16:29-30 ESV). “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (1 Chronicles 16:34 ESV). God was worthy of worship, deserving of praise, and fully owed the thanksgiving and honor of His people for all that He had done for them. Not least of which was His provision for their forgiveness through the sacrificial system and the Day of Atonement.
What does this passage reveal about man?
While we may find it easy to stand in awe of God for His power or His creative ability expressed through nature, we tend to take for granted the provision of salvation made possible through His Son, Jesus Christ. The whole reason David was having to bring the Ark of the Covenant back was because years earlier, the people of Israel had attempted to use it as some kind of talisman or good luck charm. They were facing the Philistines in battle and decided to send for the Ark and bring it to the sight of the battle in the hopes that it would provide them with some kind of supernatural advantage over their enemies. The Ark of the Covenant was meant to be the place of propitiation. It wasn’t designed to turn away earthly enemies, but to turn away the wrath of God. The Israelites didn’t appreciate the significance of this holy symbol of God’s mercy, grace and forgiveness. And because they failed to treat it with the awe, glory and honor it deserved, they not only lost their battle with the Philistines, but they had the Ark taken captive by their enemies. They lost their means of propitiation. With the loss of the Ark, they would experience the loss of their only means of turning away the wrath of God against their sins. They had taken lightly God’s means of propitiation and would suffer the consequences.
Over in the book of Colossians, Paul reminded his readers that Jesus Christ is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15 ESV). He is the creator of all things “in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (Colossians 1:16 ESV). In fact, “in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19 ESV). But more importantly, He is the means of propitiation for the sins of man. His death satisfied the just demands of a righteous God. “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death” (Colossians 1:21-22 ESV). God, through Jesus, has reconciled or made right “to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20 ESV).
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
Over in the book of Hebrews, we read these encouraging words: “For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:24-26 ESV). God provided His Son as a propitiation for our sins. He became the Mercy Seat upon which His own sinless blood was sprinkled so that the justice of God might be satisfied and the wrath of God might be turned away. I stand in a right relationship with God due to the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. I must never take His death lightly. I must never treat His sacrifice flippantly. I must always remember the holiness, majesty and righteousness of God. I must never forget my own sinfulness and hopelessness apart from the mercy made available to me through Jesus Christ. I must “ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name” (1 Chronicles 16:28-29 ESV). I should “give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (1 Chronicles 16:34 ESV). He has done for me what I could never have done for myself. He has provided a means by which my sins could be atoned for and my alienation from His holy presence resolved. “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Colossians 1:21-22 ESV).
Father, thank You Father for providing Your Son as the once-for-all sacrifice for my sins. Never let me take His sacrifice for granted. You have made me right with Yourself through the death of Your own Son. You expressed Your great love for me by offering Your Son on my behalf. And that incredible gift should result in my ongoing, unwavering love, adoration, worship and praise. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men