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From the editor: "When they…had gone six paces" (2 Samuel 6.13)

J Grant

It had been a troubled three months for David. The great purpose of bringing the Ark to Jerusalem, a hope that had burned in his breast for years, when it seemed to be almost fulfilled had been met with disaster. They had started with great confidence and expectations. The new cart on which the Ark had been placed appeared to be most suitable. It had proved to be a useful help for the journey, but had caused the death of Uzzah who had steadied the Ark with his hand when it was in danger of falling.

David was displeased, not with his God, but with the fact that his plan had resulted in the death of a good man whose family had cared for the Ark for years. If they had not used the new cart, but carried the Ark in the manner taught in Scripture, such a disaster would not have overtaken them.

With the death of Uzzah, the journey of the Ark to Jerusalem was halted and it was placed in the house of Obed-edom. But encouraging news came to David. Due to the presence of the Ark, blessing had come to that house. How David longed for that blessing to be enjoyed by the whole nation. No longer could he wait. Realising the mistake made on the first attempt, he purposed to undertake this enterprise again and ensure that he acted in accordance with the Word of God.

So the journey commenced, this time with the Ark being carried. But would disaster overtake them on this occasion? Was the anger of the Lord still hot towards him? Did David’s previous failure rule him out from having a part in bringing the Ark to its destination? It was, therefore, with a sense of the holiness of God and of the necessity of doing all things according to His will that the first steps of the journey were made. Six cautious, tentative steps, doubtless with surrounding silence and reverence. Was God still displeased with them? After six paces they halted, thankful that the Lord had not intervened in judgment. It was not fear that caused them to stop, but rather worship. The time spent in offering the sacrifices was not wasted. The adversary is quick to tell us that time for prayer and worship but slows up the work. In truth it maintains its impetus. They sacrificed to the Lord. Hearts, filled with gratitude that God in His grace was allowing the journey to continue, were raised in worship at that point when it was seen that the privilege of bringing back the Ark had not been taken from them and given to others.

You may be at the moment where David was after the death of Uzzah, feeling that the work in which you have been engaged appears futile or the pathway that you set out for yourself has not achieved its purpose. You have given yourself to the work of the Lord, but it seems to have come to nothing. There is a great sense of worthlessness. Was it because you were acting unscripturally; was it that you were engaged in a task that was not for you? Somehow you know that you have failed!

No matter the issues that you may discern in the circumstances, you may take heart from the example of David. He realised that his failure was the cause of the disaster, but he purposed to continue the work. Before the Lord, seek His will as to service and then start again on the journey of helping to bear the testimony and of lending your weight to the work of the assembly. Start again as they started. Do not seek great things; just follow their "six paces", with no self-confidence but with all your confidence placed in Him. Remember also that the pathway must be one marked by worship. Where in the past you may have moved faster than was wise, now take each step carefully and fearfully, seeking only to please Him and work in His way.

It would be with great relief that they saw their sacrifices accepted. The Lord still was with them. They had learned the lesson of previous failure and now were better equipped to serve. If we feel that our progress has stalled, look to Scripture, determine to act according to its instruction, and take the first six careful, steady paces. As such progress is made you will have cause to worship - and then continue leaning on Him.


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