“Because you did not [carry the Ark] at the first, the LORD our God made an outburst on us, for we did not seek Him according to the ordinance.”
1 Chronicles 15:13
There are many ways that we can seek God, but only one that is acceptable to Him. David learned this in a difficult way. David first tried to bring the Ark into the city on a cart rather than on the shoulders of the Levites. God commanded that the Levites carry the Ark and David’s failure to obey cost a man his life. The cart hit a bump or the oxen pulling it got a little rowdy or something and that guy was worried that the Ark was going to fall. So, he put a hand on the Ark to steady it and fell down dead. Good motivation — wrong action.
Round two of trying to bring the Ark into Jerusalem sees David having realized that the trouble was not with God, but with God’s people — specifically, with the king of God’s people, David — who hadn’t obeyed and sought God in the way God prescribed. God had given directions, so it wasn’t as if there was some mystery surrounding the process.
The same is true today. There is one, and only one, way to approach God. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.” The only way I can approach God; the only way anything I say or do or think can ever be acceptable to a holy God is through His Son, Jesus Christ. I’ve considered the necessity of doing God’s work in God’s way, and it is just as true now as it was when I first considered it. There is, I think, an added dimension to this account. See, the Ark was part of worship and prayer. The account of the Ark being brought into Jerusalem includes praising God. The Ark was to be placed in the Holy of Holies; the Most Holy Place and it was there that the high priest would yearly make atonement for the nation. The Ark contained The Law; the old covenant.
The parallel to this for the Christian is Jesus Christ, Himself. Jesus was brought into Jerusalem with praise and singing before His crucifixion. Jesus is the One Who makes atonement for us. The new covenant of grace is written in Jesus’ blood, poured out at the foot of the cross. No longer is it an Ark containing The Law that leads to our condemnation but a Savior Who took our condemnation upon Himself and invites us to be in Him.
In light of all of this, how does God command me to approach in prayer and in praise and in all aspects of worship? In humility. The Bible says that I should humble myself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift me up. The Bible says that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. The psalmist says that I should enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart and His courts with praise. To seek God in God’s way is to come in humility and with thankfulness and praises. The littleness of me; the greatness of what God has done; and the greatness of Who God is. As I realize my smallness, I will become more thankful for all of the things God has done for me. As I recall all that He has done for me, it illuminates His character and I have cause to praise Him for Who He is.
I need to make that my habit in seeking God. My smallness — including confession of my sins. The greatness of His works. The greatness of Who He is. After that, I will have reached Him and we can spend time together.