It seemed like a great idea at the time. An idea that honored the Lord. An idea that pleased God’s people. An idea that would likely secure the people’s respect for forever.
The ark of God, once in the possession of the Philistines, was now on its way back to Jerusalem. The ark, which symbolized both the presence and power of God, would soon be back among God’s chosen people.
But two things happened along the way that brought the process to a screeching halt.
First, though God clearly instructed the Jews to only carry the ark, they placed it on an oxcart for transport back to Jerusalem. Second, when the ark started to wobble and a man named Uzzah reached out and touched it to steady it, he was instantly killed.
It was a tragedy for God’s people, and certainly a setback for King David. He longed for God’s presence to be back in Jerusalem. In fear of the Lord, David prayed, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” (2 Samuel 6:9) It was a question that would form into a prayer, now recorded as Psalm 101 (see below).
What’s fascinating about this prayer is how resolute David is for he and his people to be holy in the wake of their sin. The sum of the prayer is this: “I’m going to be holy. I”m not going to have anything to do with people who aren’t holy. I’m giving myself to eradicating sin in my kingdom. Then the ark of God will be among us.” Verse 1 sums it up well: “(My life) will sing of love and justice.”
It’s a bold prayer, one that we’ve all prayed a thousand times in the wake of our sin. “God, I’m not going to do it anymore, and then you and I can be in fellowship together.” And just like David, we’ve failed to live up to our end of the bargain. We’ve been prideful, lazy, adulterous and selfish, just to name a few.
So what are we to do? How can we fellowship with God if our best efforts fall short? Who can pray this prayer and actually live it out?
I think you know the answer.
David couldn’t bring the ark, but the ark came to us.
Yet, because Jesus was the essence of love and justice, I think His prayer would be a little different.
David said, “I will pay attention to the way of integrity. When will You come to me? (v.2).”
Jesus would say, “I am integrity, and I am coming to you.”
David said, “I hate sin and will not be involved with it” (vv. 3-4).
Jesus would say, “I hate sin and will the pay the price for it.”
David said, “The one who follows the way of integrity may serve me” (v. 6).
Jesus would say, “I will serve those who have no integrity.”
And so it goes.
And for those who have given their lives to Jesus and have the Holy Spirit living inside of them, they now have the power to pray the prayer David prayed and live as Jesus lived.
Never perfectly. Never pridefully. Always in gratitude.
For were it not for the One who lived perfectly on their behalf and took the punishment they deserved (love and justice), they could never be with God.
I will sing of faithful love and justice; I will sing praise to You, Lord. 2 I will pay attention to the way of integrity.
When will You come to me?
I will live with a heart of integrity in my house. 3 I will not set anything worthless before my eyes. I hate the practice of transgression; it will not cling to me. 4 A devious heart will be far from me; I will not be involved with evil.
5 I will destroy anyone who secretly slanders his neighbor; I cannot tolerate anyone with haughty eyes or an arrogant heart. 6 My eyes favor the faithful of the land so that they may sit down with me. The one who follows the way of integrity may serve me. 7 No one who acts deceitfully will live in my palace; no one who tells lies will remain in my presence. 8 Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land, eliminating all evildoers from the Lord’s city.