1 Samuel 6:15-7:2
When the ark was returned by the Philistines, the Israelites rejoiced and offered a burnt offering of thanksgiving. I’m sure this made God happy, but then they broke God’s rules. The men of Beth Shemesh looked inside the ark. God had forbidden anyone to touch the actual ark. They were to move it with poles but the ark itself was holy so they were not to touch it.
The actions of these men so angered God that He destroyed over 50,000 people. This frightened the men of Beth Shemesh so much that they asked the men of Kirjath Jearim to come get the ark. The men of Kirjath Jearim came and got the ark and took it back to the home of Abinadab and selected Eleazar to take care of the ark. They kept the ark there for 20 years.
But why could the men of Kirjath Jearim keep the ark without problems while both the Philistines and the men of Beth Shemesh got sick? First, the Philistines got sick because it didn’t belong to them. And the people of Beth Shemesh got sick because they didn’t care for it correctly. The people of Kirjath Jearim obviously took proper care of the ark, therefore (since they were Israelites and it belonged to them) they kept it without problems.
But what can we learn from this situation? We need to be completely obedient. The Philistines had to return the ark because God said it wasn’t theirs. They had to follow the rules. The people of Beth Shemesh weren’t wrong to have it, but they were still disobedient in how they treated the ark. Only the people of Kirjath Jearim were completely obedient, the ark belonged to them and they treated it properly. We need to obey all the rules, not just the ones we like!
Build an ark out of Legos or a shoe box. Challenge your kids to move it from one side of the house to the other without touching it directly. Offer a treat if they can do it. Remind them that, while moving it gets the job done, they have to obey all the rules and not touch it. We need to be completely obedient to “win” with God.