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???)


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’…


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.