1 Chronicles 12:19 to 14:17
Notice how localized the Israelites’ conception of God is in these chapters. In 13:3, David suggests the army go out to bring the bring “the ark of our God to us.” Why? The answer may be in 13:6: “David and all Israel went up to Baalah . . . to bring up from there the ark of God, the LORD, who is enthroned on the cherubim.” For the people of Israel, God was present–in a very real way–upon the ark of the covenant. When they brought the ark into their presence, they were bringing God back into their immediate presence. No wonder they dance “before God with all their might” in 13:8. God is back among them! How do we take for granted God’s loving presence around and among us through the Holy Spirit? Like our ancestors in the faith, perhaps we ought to be filled with the kind of joy that would cause us to dance and sing because God’s Spirit chooses to be present with us wherever we are.
In contrast with the LORD, the God of Israel, who goes before the people of Israel and can be heard marching through the trees in 14:15, notice how dead the gods of the Philistines are in 14:12. We read that the Philistines abandon their gods, “and at David’s command they were burned.” How many dead Gods do we strive to serve alongside the living God? What things that occupy our time, our attention, and maybe even our devotion could be thrown into a pit and burned?
As Paul introduces himself to the Roman Christians, the last two verses in this passage catch my attention. In verses 16 & 17, Paul speaks volumes to the Romans (and to us) in just a few words. He tells us that the good news of Jesus Christ–the gospel–is the source of salvation for all who have faith. Regardless of what we understand, or read, or acknowledge, salvation is ultimately an act of the heart, rather than head. Belief is an act of trusting beyond what we can know. Paul continues to tell us that righteousness is all about faith. Regardless of what we do, we are righteous before God because of our faith. Righteousness is God’s gift, received in faith, rather than God’s reward earned by holy living. Receive the gift with joy today, and live by faith.