Obed-Edom – what a blessing!
When David becomes King, his first major act is to bring the Ark of the Covenant into the City of David (1 Chronicles 13) to be with the people. This Ark is the place where God’s manifest presence dwells. But en-route, things do not go smoothly; in fact, one of the oxen pulling the cart that is transporting the Ark stumbles and a man named Uzzah reaches out his hand to steady the Ark (1 Chronicles 13:9). This action goes against everything God sets out in His word regarding how the Ark is to be treated and we read that The Lord struck Uzzah down. David was at first angry at God for His actions and then afraid. In fear, he decided not to bring the Ark into the City of David but rather took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. We read in 1 Chronicles 13:14, “The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had.”
There are a few things interesting to note about this episode. Obed-Edom is described as a ‘Gittite’. Most scholars agree this probably meant he was a Philistine. The Philistines had captured the Ark in 1 Samuel 4 and God’s hand came against them, so they had returned the Ark to Israel. But now, we see God’s hand come against Uzzah, an Israelite, and the Ark delivered into the household of a Philistine whose household is blessed.
Obed-Edom goes on to be mentioned several more times in the following chapters – every time he is mentioned, it is in reference to the Ark. He has had a taste of God’s presence, of living with God, his household has been blessed, and now he just cannot stay away. So in 1 Chronicles 15:18, Obed-Edom is appointed by the Levites to serve as one of the gatekeepers in David’s tabernacle; in verse 21 he is also appointed as a musician; in verse 24 he is named as a doorkeeper; in 1 Chronicles 16:5 he is among those appointed to extol, thank and praise the Lord; in verse 38 he is among those left by David to minister before the Ark. This former Philistine appears to take on the role of a priest. In some respects this is unsurprising considering his house became the Holy of Holies for three months (the place where the Ark resided, where only priests could go).
In 1 Chronicles 26:6-8, his descendants are numbered among the gatekeepers, alongside the Korahites. It is worth noting that all his descendents, they and their sons, are said to be ‘capable men with the strength to do work’ – all 62 of them (far more than those serving from any other family). We can see the blessing of God on Obed-Edom and his descendants, formerly considered enemies of God (Philistines), but now numbered among God’s people. Obed-Edom – literally meaning slave of Edom – becomes a servant of the Most High God, a priest no less, all because the presence of God came into his life in an extraordinary way. Let us remember this was all a result of the undeserved, unmerited favour of God on his life. What a foreshadowing of our story as God’s people. We were far away from God but brought near by the blood of Jesus; through Him we received the Holy Spirit and every spiritual blessing and were made priests of the God, grafted in to His family.
Like Obed-Edom, lets devote our lives to being with God, as close to him as possible, desiring his presence more than anything and may you and your household be truly blessed.
Your servant in Christ,