Every month I go to an assisted living community with Pastor Kim to do the chapel service for their residents. I pretend I know how to play hymns and then he shares a profound message to our guests seasoned in the faith. On a recent visit he shared on David and when he went to get the Ark of the Covenant back from the Philistines. I had just finished a personal study on this text and so my mind was racing with extra details as he shared his message. The ark was carried on a cart, not the way God had told them to carry it and when the cart hit a bump in the road a well meaning man named Uzzah reached his hand out and steadied the ark. He died instantly. David, understandably upset and most likely angry, left the ark at the home of Obed-Edom. The Bible tells us that the household of Obed-Edom was blessed in the three months that the ark was at his home. As Pastor Kim preached this sermon I listened as he shared how Obed-Edom didn’t fall in love with the blessings of the ark. Sure he was thrilled that his crops were growing larger and better than anyone for miles, or that we can most likely assume that there was a constant light source coming from the ark glowing and radiating continually. No, Pastor shared how Obed Edom fell in love with the presence of God. He ended his message by saying that once the ark was taken back to Jerusalem, Obed Edom and his sons left their home and served at the temple just to be near the presence of God.
It was almost immediately that the popular verse came to mind Psalm 84:10, “A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.” I began to wonder, what job did Obed Edom have? Who was this man? Could the Psalmist have been quoting him when these words were written? So I began to dig. But more on that in a minute…
As a worship leader in the early 2000s I sang the song “Better is One Day” more times than I should care to admit, but it held such meaning to me then and still does today. When God called me into ministry I could have cared less if I was the janitor or the worship leader as long as I was serving Him in His church. Like Obed Edom I fell in love with the presence of God and wanted to be with Him always, leaving everything behind and serving Him with everything I had. Yet there have been times in my life when all of it has seemed so overwhelming. You see, I get why David just grabbed a cart and put the ark on top of it. It was easier, it was faster and it made more sense. I am all about efficiency. From point A to point B as fast as possible. I remember reading this story as a kid and being angry that God would kill Uzzah, I mean the guy was just trying to help! But think about that for a minute. Helpful? Maybe. Efficient? Yep. Reverent? Not at all. He had forgotten that the ark carried the presence of the living God. It was holy. It was God Himself, and Uzzah thought he could offer “a little help”. You see this is me, I am always ready with my plans and opinions and spreadsheets of all the ways I know God should move. Yet, lately God has just been continually reminding me “I got this. I do not need your help”. And so in the midst of my own uncertainties my prayers have changed. Instead of reaching out to the ark to “get it in line” to “keep it from falling” or “straighten things out” I just keep praying over and over again, “God this is NOT a surprise to you! You KNOW this day, you made it, you formed it, you have been in it long before I was born. You are the one who needs to handle what happens today. You know this situation, I don’t want to be in love with your solution, I want to be in love with you.”
Back to our friend Obed. Obed Edom was a descendant a man named Korah. Lets just say Korah got a little “swallowed up” in his work and the story of his life in Numbers 16. He was a rebellious man and his rebellion cost him his life. But still his family was able to hold a place of honor. Even the prophet Samuel was a descendent of Korah. The Korahites were to make sure that no one entered the temple. They were the gatekeepers. Obed Edom left his prosperous farm behind because if he couldn’t be near the presence of God nothing else mattered. So he took up a position as a descendant of Korah, as a gatekeeper.  Psalm 84 is actually said to be written by “the descendants of Korah”. Now we will never know if Obed Edom actually said those famous words of Psalm 84. But for the sake of my imagination, I can picture so many people asking Obed, “Why did you leave? Your farm was prospering! You could have been rich!” But you see Obed Edom knew where the real blessing came from. It wasn’t from the farm or the soil, it was presence of God. He wasn’t in love with the solution, he was in love with the presence of God. I can almost imagine his humble reply “I would rather be a gate keeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.”
This is a hard and life long journey for me. To know that He has it and when He wants me to step in He will make that so clear. And you want to know a secret? There is so much peace in that place. In the place where we say, God this is yours and not mine. Do your will. Have your way. In the meantime, let me just be in your presence. Thats more than enough.