Authority. Everyone loves authority, until it is exerted upon them. We truly do love authority though. Many times I have read in articles and books on handling the trouble child or learning to discipline children, that children, pre-teens, and even teenagers desire authority in their life. One main reason is because they are still learning to formulate their own “plan-of-action” in even the smallest areas of life. They want some form of guidance from a source that seems to know more than they do. The issue comes when they begin looking to the wrong people and placing them in the authoritative roles in their lives. But may I present the idea that adults too long for authority in their lives. Why are seminars, webinars, and conferences even around if there is not a sense of desire to be guided by someone who is “greater” (be it knowledge, experience, or even monetary worth) than the learner? Teenagers struggle with being too flippant on who gets to sit on the authority seat of their lives, having that seat filled by many different parties within a single day. Adults tend to struggle with being too strict on who sits on that seat, expecting said authority to be nearly perfect in every way. What usually happens? We fill the seat ourselves. We become the ultimate authority in our lives calling for mercy and grace for our own actions but giving little to others.
Today we will finish exploring the story in 1 Chronicles 13 by looking at a character that we often times struggle to relate to. Obed-edom, the Gittite.
We know little about this man. He is a Gittite. This means that he is a Philistine originating from the city of Gath. A foreigner, an enemy of Israel at the time. We know that he was an enemy at this time because if you read on in chapter 14 we see what happens while the ark rests at Obed-edom’s home. The Philistines attack the Israelites twice, both resulting in terrible failures on the Philistine’s part. Chapter 15 of 1 Chronicles picks the story of the ark back up and the moving of the ark into Jerusalem. Obed-edom, a foreigner and enemy of David could have refused to take the ark or even summoned his fellow Philistines to take the ark. Yet, within this moment, he is subject to an authority.
After David becomes angry and fearful of God, he looks to deposit the ark somewhere that will not be harmful to him or his people. So he finds Obed-edom and his household. We are not told whether David walked in and asked politely to store the very presence of God, which when touched or handled incorrectly could result in being instantly killed, in Obed-edom’s home. If I had to guess, David, the newly appointed king of Israel, approached Obed-edom in a more authoritative way enlightening him on what was going to happen.
The response of Obed-edom? We look at verse 14 within this chapter and it says that “the ark of God remained with the household of Obed-edom in his house three months.” To our understanding there was no fight, no argument, but rather a submission to one appointed in a place of authority. It remained there three months. As we read further, “And the Lord blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that he had.”
The very presence of God dwelt in the house of Obed-edom for three months. I can foresee that if Obed-edom showed respect to the authority of a man, God was blessing Obed-edom for showing respect to the ultimate authority.
I played sports in my younger days. Like, a lot. One of my favorites was baseball. When I was thinking about authority and submitting to someone else’s order or direction, I thought of a base coach. In baseball there are coaches stationed at both 1st and 3rd base. Their job? To watch the ball as you run as fast as you can, directing you to the next base or telling you to hold up. One of the hardest parts of baseball is watching the base coach, especially as a kid. If I finally made contact with the ball, all I wanted to do was see how far it went and if my weak pop-up would somehow be taken by a gust of wind over the fence. It was hard to simply trust the base coach. Plus, it wasn’t always fun. Submitting to that authority on the field meant giving up on my own desire to look at the ball. Obed-edom, submitting to the authority of King David, meant giving up a portion of his home to the ark. The result? As close to an in-the-park home-run as you can get, I think.
When we read on through the 15th chapter we see Obed-edom appear again. This time he is appointed a Levitical gatekeeper for the ark. David rewards him with an honorable position. Will this be true for everyone that shows respect to an authority figure? No, certainly not. But there will be a reward, sooner or later. It is here that we are storing up treasure in heaven. Though we may seek the immediate gratification or desire to see the fruit of our efforts, that is not what we are promised or called to. We are simply called to “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Pt. 2:17)
How well are you submitting to authority? Why is the struggle so difficult? What makes submitting easier? Feel free to answer in the comments section below.
In Christ’s Love,