Zion ציּון (tsı̂yôn) means “parched place” and is another name for Jerusalem, especially in the prophetic books.
As King David took the Ark of the Covenant up to Mount Zion he wrote Psalms 15 and 24 which we shall look at later. The record of the relocation of the Arc is contained in two Bible passages, Second Samuel 6:1-16 and First Chronicles 15:1-16:6. The first of the two passages is as follows:
“Again David gathered every chosen one in Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people with him from beyond Baale of Judah, to bring up the ark of God from there, which is called by the Name, the Name of Jehovah of Hosts who dwells above the cherubs. And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab in Gibeah. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart. And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab at Gibeah, going with the ark of God. And Ahio went before the ark. And David and all the house of Israel were dancing before Jehovah on all instruments of fir wood, with lyres and with harps, and with tambourines, and with sistra, and with cymbals.
And when they came to Nachon’s threshing-floor, Uzzah reached out to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen upset it. And the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Uzzah. And God struck him there for the error. And he died there by the ark of God.
And David was displeased because Jehovah had broken forth upon Uzzah. And he called the name of the place The Break of Uzzah to this day. And David was afraid of Jehovah that day, and said, How shall the ark of Jehovah come to me?
And David was not willing to bring the ark of Jehovah to him into the city of David. But David carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom the Gittite, the Levite. And the ark of Jehovah stayed in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months. And Jehovah blessed Obed-edom and all his household. And they told King David, saying, Jehovah has blessed the house of Obed-edom, and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God. And David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness. And it happened that when those who bore the ark of Jehovah had gone six steps, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings. And David danced before Jehovah with all his might. And David was girded with a linen ephod. And David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of Jehovah with shouting, and with the sound of the ram’s horn. And it happened as the ark of Jehovah came to the city of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and dancing before Jehovah. And she despised him in her heart.”
If we learn nothing else from this passage, let it be that we must take God seriously, and all He says, seriously. Yes, God is a God of love, but He is also a God to be feared and not taken for granted. Uzzah did what he thought was correct and touched the Ark, but he did it in an attitude of the commonplace, for he had grown accustomed to having the Ark in his house and disrespected God’s protocol on handling the Ark. God’s justice was swift and Uzzah died immediately on the spot. Oh for the patience God now displays toward us!
We can see that honouring God, allowing the Ark of the Covenant to “dwell” or rest in their house, “blessed Obed-edom and all his household” (v6). Certainly, accommodating God, has its blessings.
Also clear to us is the correct attitude in worshiping God. This was not demonstrated in King David’s first attempt to move Ark which lead to the death of Uzzah. However, when David recognised the correct protocols due to the Living God, he applied it with such vigour and abandon that Michal, Saul’s daughter, despised him for his public display of his intensity of his love of his God. Regrettably, the spiritual children of Michal seem to populate many Churches and hinder them giving to God that which God truly deserves in and from our worship. Similarly, many are also the spiritual children of the King David who moved the Ark and disrespected God, for if that were not the case, all church pews would be filled before services started, not gradually as the service continues. Yes, we all have lessons to learn from Second Samuel 6:1-16 in regards to our proper and acceptable attitudes and demeanours towards the Living God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.
In Psalm 15 David asked of God the simple question in v1: “Jehovah, who shall dwell in Your tabernacle? Who shall dwell on Your holy hill?” In verses 2-4 the Holy Spirit answers David saying:
“He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; he does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbour, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbour; in whose eyes the reprobate is despised, but he honours those who fear Jehovah; he has sworn to his hurt, and does not change it; he has not put out his money at interest, nor has he taken a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall not be moved forever.”
King David follows up in Psalm 24 asking again in v3: “Who shall go up into the hill of Jehovah? Or who shall stand in His holy place?” Again the Holy Spirit answers in v4 saying “He who has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, and has not sworn deceitfully.”
Why was King David asking these question? After recovering the Ark of the Covenant from the Philistines (First Samuel 6) he took it Mount Zion which he has previously taken from the Jebusites (First Chronicles 11:4-9, 16:1, Second Samuel 5:6-7) and from thence forward, Mount Zion became holy because it was the resting place for the Ark and God dwelt there. Mount Zion was literally the dwelling place of God on earth.
Not only was the questions of who could live on Mount Zion important to David, the question also became important for all the prophets, as Isaiah asks in Isaiah 33:14 saying: ”The sinners in Zion are afraid; terror has surprised profane ones. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?”
Yes, who shall dwell, who shall stand in the devouring fire? Again, the answer is given by David in Psalm 24:4 as the Holy Spirit answers us saying: “He who has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, and has not sworn deceitfully.” And as v5 says: “He shall receive the blessing from Jehovah, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”
Whose righteousness is this? It is certainly not ours, for as Matthew 5:6 says: “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness! For they shall be filled.” It is a righteousness given by God to those who hunger and thirst after it. We need to seek after it to receive it. We need to be changed in character and action, for those living as the world lives, will not and cannot receive it. As we live in this world, seeking such changes without the help of the Holy Spirit is in vain, for we need to sustain in the long term, not the short. It is not something we can simply accomplish by the strength our own will.
Reading on in Psalm 24:6 we find: “This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face, O God of Jacob. Selah.” As it was then, it is now. We are required to seek God with both righteousness and purity. They both go hand-in-hand and are inseparable; we cannot be one, without having the other; as Ezekiel 36:26-27 explains: “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgements and do them.” Reading further in v37 “So says the Lord Jehovah: yet this, I will be sought by the house of Israel to act for them. I will increase them with men like a flock.”
It is very clear here that we need to seek righteousness and purity, because, quite simple, God Himself says so. Blessings, God’s blessings, will not come to those who do not seek him. He is quite clear on this. We need to earnestly call out to God and He will answer.
Looking back at Psalms 15 and 24, let us list out for easy reference God’s own fifteen qualifications to dwell in Zion and see who is fit to enter, live, to dwell in Zion:
One walks uprightly.
One works righteousness.
One speaks the truth in ones heart.
One does not backbite with ones tongue.
One does no evil to ones neighbour.
One takes up no reproach (criticism) against ones neighbour.
One in whose eyes the reprobate (troublemaker) is despised.
One who honours those who fear Jehovah.
One who keeps ones word, even if it hurts, and does not change it.
One who does not charge interest on money lent.
One who has not taken a bribe against the innocent.
One with clean hands.
One with a pure heart.
One who has not lifted up his soul to vanity and
One who has not lied and committed perjury.
And what of the ones who keep the above? Psalm 24:5 is very clear on that: ”He shall receive the blessing from Jehovah, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face, O God of Jacob.”
Let us pray that this is indeed the generation of those who seek Him, those who seek His face, for as the end times approach, a blessing from Jehovah will certainly not go amiss.
The above is based around teachings from Dr. Brian J. Bailey’s book The Journey – a quest for Christian Maturity. The Journey– A Quest for Christian Maturity