“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.
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!!!