The Return Of The Ark (Part 5)

“Who is this Obed-Edom?”

King David asked the grey haired fully-bearded elders seated along the two flanks of the throne-room.

It had been three months since the king had entrusted the ark into the care of Obed-Edom. The news of the man’s prosperity and all-round blessings had reached Jerusalem.

“Who is he?”, David asked again.

One of the elders on David’s left rose up to speak.

“Your majesty, if my memory serves me well, it has been three months since that tragic incidence at Perez Uzzah occured”

“Yes, yes, when Abinadab’s son touched the ark of God near Nachor’s threshing floor”

“Indeed, your Majesty. But permit me, sir, to remind you, sir, that you left the ark in the care of a certain Levite who lived near the site. That man, your Majesty, is….”

David cut him short. How could he have forgotten? The daily demands of running the nation might have contributed. But even that wasn’t an excuse.

“…Obed-Edom! ”

The ‘uhs’ and ‘ahs’ filled the room, as the elders communed amongst themselves.

David thought: The ark was definitely not an instrument of mass destruction if handled properly. If the ark could transform the life of a man and his household in just three months, how much more would the fortunes of Jerusalem be changed for the better.

David stood up on his feet,
“We are paying Obed-Edom a visit! ”

For the third time in as many months, there was a lot of pompous fanfare and celebrations. David and the people set out to Obed-Edom’s household.
Nobody needed to point out the place to the king. The changes in the man’s house was as clear as day.

Moments later, Obed-Edom came trotting on a large healthy stallion of his own! As soon as he saw the king, he dismounted the horse and prostrated before the king.

“Your majesty, may you live long, sir”

“You may rise up, Obed-Edom. Look how you’ve been favoured of the Lord”, David said, pointing at the visible changes round about Obed-Edom.

“May the Lord be praised forever more, Your majesty! ”

David looked intently at the man. He also loved God deeply. Which worship leader wouldn’t?

However, the images of a dead Uzzah flashed momentarily in David’s mind. He knew he had to be careful this time around.
He cleared his throat authoritatively.

“We have come to take the ark to Jerusalem, but….”

Obed-Edom smiled at the king knowingly,

“Oh king, I understand you more than words can explain. You don’t want another tragedy on a day as this”

David nodded. Then he put a hand on Obed-Edom’s shoulder.

“Obed-Edom, I understand that you are a Levite. Tell us, what must we do to avoid another….uhm….another outburst”

“Your majesty, it is all simple. Only Levites are allowed to carry the ark of the covenant by the poles on its sides. And when they carry it, they are to do so on their shoulders for as long as it takes to move the ark. No shortcuts, your Majesty”

“And how many of these levites would be needed?”, David asked. He was leaving no loose ends.

“Just twelve, your majesty. Three men on each corner of the ark, your Majesty”

“Thank you, Obed-Edom”.

As the king turned, he remembered Abinadab’s request three months later. So, he added,

“Any last requests before the ark is moved? ”

Obed-Edom was shocked. Was this a test? If it was, he was ready to pass with flying colours.

“Oh King, after all these things that the Lord God had done for me, do I dare ask for more? Oh king, I am not of the high priest’s family, I am just a priest. I am not qualified to see this ark. Even the high priest and his descendants from the time of Aaron only saw the ark three times a year. Yet, I and my family have wined, dined and slept with the ark every day for three whole months. Oh king, may the Lord do so and even more if I ask for any other thing! ”

David was spell-bound. His respect for Obed-Edom grew more.

So, David and Obed-Edom arranged for the twelve levites to carry the ark. The men were young and slightly built. Yet David looked in wonder as these young men carried the ark so effortlessly. Compared to his strong men that had carried the ark with all their might three months ago, these young men were not doing badly at all.

The celebrations now begun in earnest. David and the people were overcome with energetic bliss. The joy of the Lord now empowered them with boundless strength. Burnt sacrifices were offered to the Lord for every six steps taken by the Levites who carried the ark. This went on and on till the ark got to Jerusalem. Considering that the sacrifices were completely burnt to ashes, the procession to Jerusalem took a long time.

But king David didn’t bother. Neither did the people, nor the Levites carrying the ark. All that mattered was that the ark of the Lord had returned. The ark of covenant was now at home!!!

(THE END???)

Advertisements

The Return Of The Ark (Part 4)

It was now dusk.

The Ark was still on the cart. The cart was still joined with the two oxen. But the fanfare and joyful progression was all gone. There was no one else in sight apart from a small-statured bald-headed man. He sat down on a rock a couple of metres away from the ark. He stared blankly at nothing in particular. Apparently, he was lost in his thoughts.

Perez Uzzah was the new name king David had given to the site where the ark had stumbled.

The threshing floor of Nachor was renamed not because the ark had nearly stumbled there, but because of what David perceived to be an act of unbridled harshness on the part of God.

Uzzah had died because he had ONLY ventured to prevent the ark from falling.

Prior to the incidence, God had expressly spelt it out in the Law, that absolutely no one was to touch the ark under any circumstance.

But, couldn’t God have relaxed his standards a bit? At least, the circumstances warranted that.

David the king was sad.
What was meant to be the happiest day of his reign had been marred with tragedy.

Obed-Edom’s house happened to be quite close to Perez Uzzah. And the king had ordered the ark to be kept in Obed-Edom’s house while he came to terms with the nation’s grief.

Obed-Edom had naturally been shell-shocked at the king’s decision.

Why should an article that had just killed someone be placed in his custody?

It simply wasn’t fair.
He tried to reason out what sins he or his progenitors had committed in the times past that now warranted his punishment from the Lord.

Obed-Edom had considered appealing to the king to change his mind. However, he promptly dismissed the idea. Why, the voice of the king was as that of an angel.

Now, Obed-Edom shifted on the rock he was seated upon. He tried to reason out what he had to do to avoid ending up like Uzzah. Almost at that instant, the eyes of his understanding were opened.

In carrying the ark, God desired His people to have a burden to worship and serve Him. This burden was not meant to be only heartfelt but also backed up with the right actions too.
There was to be no shortcut.
There was to be no easy way out.
The Law specifically made it clear that the Levites were to carry the ark of covenant on their shoulders, where they would feel the burden of the ark’s weight the most.
There were no provisions for carts to make the movement of the ark easier!
It didn’t matter if the ark was to be moved from Dan to Beersheba, it had to be carried on the shoulders of the priests.

Obed-Edom looked up at the cart again.

God had intended to use that particular stumble to make His people see their error in the way they moved the ark.
And Uzzah might have been killed because his actions tried to cover up God’s attempt at correction!

Again, Obed-Edom realized that not just anybody was qualified to carry the ark. The Levites were the one’s instructed by the Law to carry the ark.

The small-statured man with a bald head smiled at himself. He was a Levite! He served as both a porter and a musician at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem.

Instantly, Obed-Edom rose up and danced vigorously to no music. Not a few passersby threw cautionary glances at the older man’s direction. He didn’t even spare them a thought.

Instead, he worshipped God heartily. The God who elected him via His Grace and qualified him to be a custodian of the ark.

Obed-Edom perceived that he and his household were in for a ‘season of refreshing’…

(TO BE CONCLUDED IN THE NEXT AND FINAL PART!)

The Return Of The Ark (Part 3)

Abinadab couldn’t believe his ears. Hurriedly, he took permission from the king and went to fetch his sons. Moments later, two well-parloured and healthy young men were lying prostrate before David.

King David studied the two men. The duo would surely not be out of place in the army. David quickly dismissed the thought as soon as it came. That was an issue for a latter period. Getting the ark back into Jerusalem was of prime importance.

“Which one of you is Uzzah?”, asked the king.

The taller of the two men signified by raising his right hand.

“I see. Alright, both of you, get my men to come and pick the ark. We have to start moving back to Jerusalem”

Outside Abinadab’s house, there was still a lot of fanfare and celebrations and rejoicing before the LORD. There was even a greater shout of joy as the ark surfaced. The ark was so heavy that it took 8 strong soldiers to lift the ark’s poles upon their shoulders, two men at each corner of the ark. They were most definitely not going to carry the ark in this manner to Jerusalem. That would be too strenous!

Abinadab devised a plan to make the work easier. He got a new cart that had never been used before. That way the transport of the ark would be easier for everybody. David liked the idea.

The cart was yoked and joined to two oxen. The ark placed was placed ever carefully into the straw-padded cart. Soon, all was set.

Ahio and his brother Uzzah took charge of the oxen and the cart. Joab and his men were directly behind. And King David and his ‘Mighty 30’ followed up in the rear.

The road back to Jerusalem wasn’t particularly smooth. The cart endured a bumpy ride. Uzzah was worried about the ark of the LORD falling off.

So he called out to his brother,
“Hey bro!”. His voice was in a hushed tone laden with agitated excitement.

Ahio narrowed his eyes with a little frown. What was wrong? He looked silently in his brother’s direction.

“With the road full of gullies and potholes, do you think the ark might fall off?”

Ahio glared incredulously at Uzzah.

“What are you saying, brother?”

“I don’t know. It’s just a passing thought. Besides, my concerns are genuine”

“Uh…Okay”

Ahio couldn’t understand his brother’s fears. After all, when the Philistines captured the ark years ago, it was put on carts. When they also returned the ark, it was put on carts. Nobody had watched over the carts in those instances, yet the ark didn’t fall off.

“Look….”, Uzzah interrupted Ahio’s thoughts,

“…stay here and lead the oxen. I will watch from the back of the cart. If anything unusual happens, I’d be right there at hand”

Uzzah had made up his mind and started off to the back of the cart. For peace’s sake, Ahio kept mute.

The ride was now very bumpy and rough. Uzzah stared at the ark. He played in his mind’s eye how he was going to act when the ark fell off. When the ark fell off? How on earth did he know that the ark was going to fall off? Uzzah kept on dwelling on these thoughts.

The ark’s entourage soon reached the large threshing floor on Nachor’s land. That was when it happened. One of the cartwheels got into a gully. Time seemed to freeze. The impact of the shock caused the ark of covenant to stumble out of the cart! Uzzah had seen the scenario in his mind before. He knew what had to be done. He made for the ark.

Everyone who saw the scene knew what must not be done.

Behind Uzzah, Commander Joab and others with him yelled,

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

It was too late.

(TO BE CONTINUED…)

The Return Of The Ark (Part 2)

Moments later, the hosts departed the highly fortified city of Jerusalem amidst a lot of fanfare. Cymbals clanged and trumpets poompaahed. The crowd shouted joyfully as the army men trooped out of the city. They seemed to be as numerous as a troop of locusts invading a ranchland. Commander Joab was in front of the men, trotting slowly on his big, black and powerful horse. The crowd cheered his name. The commander afforded himself a wry smile. He waved back.

King David rode his white horse behind the marching troops. He was in the company of the ‘Mighty 30″- a group of selected valiant men of valour who had been with the king through thick and thin. They had seen it all: The wars, the hardships in the desert and the search parties organized by King Saul, David’s predecessor. And in return, David treated them more than his aides- they were his brothers.

Eventually, the King and his entourage arrived at Gibeah. It was as if the whole nation had turned out to see the ark, as well as the king. There was a lot of music and fanfare. The people and the troops mingled joyfully. They all danced about like playful birds.

David alighted his horse and got into one of the first houses near the city’s gate. It was Abinadab’s house. As soon as the middle-aged man saw the king, he prostrated himself in obiesance to King David.

“You may stand up. May the LORD God bless you and your household”

“Amen. Thank you, your majesty”

David now looked beyond Abinadab. That was when he saw the ark. It was much more beautiful and glorious than anything he had seen before. It was a large golden cuboidal box. On the top of the box, there was the shape of two golden angels facing each other. The wings of the angels touched each other at the top. There were also two long golden poles along the length of the cuboidal box. These were used to lift the ark.

But the most amazing feature of the ark was its luminscent nature. The body of the ark seemed to radiate a special light that did not cause the eyes to ache. David’s heart leaped within him. He turned to Abinadab,

“Is this how it appears everytime?”

“Yes, your majesty, isn’t it wonderful?” There was emotion in Abinadab’s voice.
David looked at the man. He definitely loved God too.

King David cleared his throat, “We’d take it from here”

Almost immediately, Abinadab fell on his knees before the king. David wondered what the matter was. Abinadab clasped his hands together and used them to touch his forehead.

“Your majesty, if you will, please, I have one last request to make of you, regarding the ark, sir”

David motioned him to go on.

“Your majesty, if I have found favour in your sight, please let my sons Uzzah and Ahio take charge of the transportation of the ark from here to Jerusalem”

King David took a moment to think. There was no harm in the older man’s request.

“Very well then. Where are the boys?”

(TO BE CONTINUED)

The Return Of The Ark Part 1 (My First Short Bible Fiction Story)

It was still early in the morning. The sun was just coming out. The skies were clear and the birds hopped, flew and made joyful chirps all around the trees nearby. The building in the compound was different from any other type one would see in Jerusalem. It was very much larger. And it was well guarded by tough-looking men armed with spears or swords. The reason was simple: It was the King’s palace.

Inside one of the largest rooms in the building, David Barjesse could hardly control his excitement. He shifted excitedly on his large ivory throne. In his mind’s eye, he replayed how the fleet-footed messanger, Ahimaaz, had recounted the news just moments ago. The news was simply too good to be true.

David signalled at one of the servants waiting on him in the throne room

“You beckoned, Your majesty, sir”, said the slightly built young servant. He was already kneeling on the soft and furry animal skin directly in front of David.

“Get me the commander of the Army, immediately”

“Yes, your majesty”

With that, the servant hurried out of the room in a manner similar to the movement of a squirrel on a tree branch.

King David looked at the gold-plaited ceiling above his head. He smiled to himself. Of course, it was not the beauty of the ceiling that fancied his amusement. It was another article made of a similar material, yet so much more important…

The ark of God had been found!!!

David had heard so much about the ark all the while he was growing up in the backlands of Bethlehem. Yet he had not so much as set his eyes on it. The ark had been captured in a battle with the Philistines, Israel’s fiercest enemies, over 40 years before. This implied that throughout the reign of his predecessor, King Saul Barkish, the ark was nowhere to be found. And for years, the annual ritual at Shiloh still went on. The people and the priests knew the ark, which represented God’s Presence was absent from the tarbernacle in Shiloh, yet they still went on worshipping an organized structure, rather than the Personality.

But that was in the past, thought David. Now the ark was back in Israel, specifically at the house of a certain Abinadab in Gibeah. It was within reach.
David silently muttered a deep heart-felt praise to the King of kings for counting him worthy to witness the ark’s return…

” Your Majesty?!”

David blinked. Joab, the army commander, was already standing in front of him. David briefly studied the expression of the sturdy, battle-hardened man before him. They had been together right from the harsh days in the cave of Adullam. Joab might have been savagely brute but he was loyal, and that was what count. David went on to speak.

“Today is a glorious day in the history of Israel. I’m sure you’ve heard that the ark is back in Israel!”

Joab’s bearded face remained expressionless.
“Your majesty, I am fully aware of the new developments, sir. Ahimaaz debriefed me. I also double-checked the details with Cushi. The two pieces of informatiom tallied, sir. It appears that the ark is seemingly safe in the house of a certain Abinadab in Gibeah, sir. May I know your plans, your Majesty?”. Joab’s voice remained in a flat, emotionless monotone.

“Arrange for 30, 000 of the finest soldiers and get the men ready to pick the ark of covenant. I would be coming along too”

30, 000 soldiers!
Joab felt he would rather use that amount of men to expand the kingdom of Israel than employ them as entourage for the ark. He maintained his expressionless exterior.

“Alright your majesty. Permission to fall out, sir?”

David nodded and waved his heavily ringed left hand in dismissal.

(TO BE CONTINUED…)

** THE PLATINUM GIFT FEATURED ARTICLE: The Gift By Theresa Gabriel **

Once upon a time…

There was a girl whose name was Mirabel. Mirabel was one of the most beautiful girls you’d ever lay your eyes on. She had very long, straight, shiny, black hair. You could even see your reflection in it. She had the most captivating and piercing grey eyes you could see on anyone. Here eyes appeared to see through one’s body and soul. As amazing as those grey eyes were, Mirabel was blind! For all the beauty of those eyes, they had never seen the stars or oceans or trees. She lived in darkness. Mirabel had been living in darkness all her life. It was ALMOST all she knew…

But in the midst of it all, there was a glimmer of sushine for her.

His name was Harry.

Harry was the best thing that had ever happened to Mirabel. He loved her so much and could do anything for her. He wanted to marry Mirabel and spend the rest of his life with her. So, he manned up and asked her to marry him.

But Mirabel was relunctant because of her condition. She said to him,
‘Harry…Oh Harry…if only I could see you, if only I could see the world, I’d marry you’

The next day, Mirabel found that a pair of perfectly healthy eyes had been donated to her. She was so happy. Immediately, she called Harry to tell him of the news. Harry was ecstatic. He was happy that Mirabel’s dream had come true, and as a result, his was also in line for fulfilment.

Mirabel underwent surgery. And it was successful. The doctors told her that she’d see after a few weeks of recovery after which the bandage would come off.

The day soon came for her to take the bandages off. As the bandages were peeled off, the first thing Mirabel saw was this angelic face. Nobody had to tell her it was Harry. This was her sunshine in her darkness. The bandages were soon fully off and she saw him. He was magnificient, but….

Well, Harry got down on a knee and asked for Mirabel’s hand. In Marriage.

To his surprise, she said ‘NO!’. You see, Harry was magnificient, but he was blind too! Mirabel didn’t want to marry a blind person. And she said this to Harry’s face.

Harry was devastated. He was heartbroken. Words cannot describe his pain and mental anguish. So, he got up from his knee and turned to find his way out.

But before leaving, without turning his back, Harry said to Mirabel,
‘Take care of MY EYES for me…’

And then, he left.

** THE END **

P.S: Though this is fiction, I was deeply moved, especially when I remember the extent Jesus Christ went for us to redeem us from our sins. Good write-up Theresa. More Grace to you