+Stage 1: The ark on a cart pulled by oxen; priests walking beside; Uzzah struck dead in an instant and the procession stopping short of the goal. Lasting impression: awe-full fear of the wrath of a holy God
After a three-month break, they tried it again.
+Stage 2: The ark carried on poles by the priests, like God had commanded; David and the people dancing, leaping, shouting to the accompaniment of horns and trumpets; ending with a banquet in Jerusalem. Lasting impression: overwhelming delight in the goodness of a covenant God.
Put the two together and you get awe-full joy.
What happened next? David wanted to insure that the sense of awe-full joy continued. It wasn’t to be a one-time experience, but a way of choosing a worshipping life. So, he appointed some priests to minister before the ark in Jerusalem every day. (1 Chron.16:37) and others were to watch the gates where the priests came in and out (1 Chron.16:38).
But there also remained the altar of burnt offerings at Gibeon—the key place for ordinary people to offer sacrifices in order to draw near this holy God of awe-full joy. It is a picture of the bloody sacrifice of Jesus, who on the cross gives us “confidence to enter the holy places….by a new and living way opened for us…through His flesh.” (Heb.10:19-20)
And so, at that altar, were other priests “chosen and expressly named to give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (1 Chron.16:39)
That just grabbed my heart. There were some people whose entire calling in life was simply to express gratitude to the Lord. To insure that there would never be a moment when God’s people were thankless or forgetful of the Lord’s mercy and kindness. They were chosen and expressly named to be thank-ers.
Why were they chosen? At least part of the reason was that they “had trumpets and cymbals for the music.” (1 Chron.16:42) So, the gratitude was meant to be noisy and noticeable, not whispered or mumbled out of the side of the mouth.
Maybe they were “expressly named” because they were unusually sensitive to notice the Lord’s actions and faithfulness. Or maybe it was because they were proud and needed the discipline for their own hearts
Whatever the reason and however it worked, it is clear that gratitude was to be a regular part of their life together.
I think that’s a really good idea for most faith-families. It’s so easy to assume (“Of course we’re thankful”), but we could stand to be a lot more intentional about our gratitude. We want to remain constantly aware that we’re not self-generated people, but completely dependent on our Father. We want to experience awe-full joy.
So, do we need to create a gratitude committee, with three-year rotations and all that? No, because of Jesus, we are now all priests. (1 Peter 2:9) We are all the ones “chosen and expressly named” to give thanks. To spotlight God as sufficient. To announce His faithfulness. To proclaim His salvation day after day.
Gratitude means we take it on ourselves the opportunity to share with everyone the overwhelming truth of awe-full joy: Holy God loves us, demonstrates it relentlessly—and will keep it up forever.