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"Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth: The world also shall be established that it shall not be moved : He “shall judge the people righteously. * Let 'the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; Let "the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. * Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: Then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice 13 before the LoRD, For he cometh—for he cometh to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the people with his truth.
After the ark had been removed to Zion, and every provision made for its sacred preservation, and the solemn worship of Jehovah, there was yet one source of anxiety connected with the occasion, which was not easy to be removed. The tribe of Ephraim, according to the blessings pronounced upon it by Jacob, and afterward by Moses, (Genesis xlix, 22–26; Deuteronomy xxxiii, 13–17) was to enjoy a distinguished rank. Their central position in the land, together with the rich advantages of their tribal inheritance, and their family affinity with Manasseh, seemed to promise them a decided ascendency over all the other tribes. As we have already seen, (see page 215,) the ark and the tabernacle had been located at Shiloh, within their bounds, for about three hundred years, and the people had been so long accustomed to meeting there for their religious feasts and sacrifices, that the honour of protectorship of the national religion seemed to be conceded to the tribe of Ephraim. The immense and frequent assemblages which were here called together, from all parts of the land, tended to augment the wealth and political consequence of the Ephraimites, and to support their ambitious claims to precedence. But, in the enjoyment of these high immunities, they proved themselves unfaithful guardians of the national rites. They countenanced the idolatrous corruptions which, from time to time, had been copied from the surrounding heathen nations; and in the days of Eli had become so remiss as to suffer the tabernacle service to fall into utter contempt and reproach. 1 Samuel ii, 17–29. To complete the sum of their impieties, they had profanely brought out the ark of God from the “holy of holies,” in the sacred tabernacle, into their camp, that it might protect them from their enemies in the day of battle. Under these circumstances, the solemnities of religion were fast degenerating to the irreverent customs of the heathen; and now, by a train of mysterious providences, humiliating to the honour of the nation, and especially painful to the truly pious, God permits the ark to be removed from Shiloh, never more to return thither. These facts we have already had occasion to record.
After the removal of the ark from Shiloh, the “tabernacle” also, in which was performed the daily sacrifices, in which stood the common and the golden altars, the table of “shew bread,” and other sacred things, was removed to the city of Nob, within the tribe of Benjamin. From Nob it was afterward, when Saul had destroyed that city, (1 Samuel xxii,9–19,) removed to Gibeon, where it remained till the building of Solomon's temple. 2 Chronicles v, 5; 1 Kings viii, 4. For the regular service of the tabernacle at Gibeon, David made provision at the same time that he prepared a place for the ark on Mount Zion. 1 Chronicles xvi, 37–42. By these events, Ephraim was stripped at once of all those public honours and emoluments, which it had enjoyed since the first settlement of the tribes by Joshua.
It could not be supposed that a tribe so imperious, aspiring, and crafty as the Ephraimites had always been, would quietly submit to this dishonour, and see the palm of superiority thus pass over to its rival. The supreme political dominion had already been established in the tribe of Judah, and now the movement to engross the religious honours of the nation, also, seemed to despoil the Ephraimites of the last hope of their ambition. The envious rivalry between these two tribes was proverbially public and painful, and in later times greatly deplored by all those who loved the general good of the nation above the local preferment of any one tribe. Isaiah xi, 13. This mutual envy, however, was never healed. On different occasions it discovered itself, till at length it broke forth in the untimely and abortive insurrection of Sheba, (2 Samuel xx.) and finally in the well-concerted and fatal dismemberment of the ten tribes under Jeroboam. 1 Kings xii.
With these elements obviously at work, it became necessary for David to vindicate his conduct before the nation, and state his reasons for removing the ark to Zion, instead of conveying it back to Shiloh. The rejection of Ephraim from the supreme authority, and from the honour of the protectorate of the ark and worship of God, must be shown to be of Divine appointment, and not the result of the emulous rivalry and ambition of Judah. Public sentiment must be enlisted to sanction the measure, so that a powerful political party shall not be called into action against the king, and thereby weaken his authority by the very means he had adopted to establish it. Psalm lxxviii seems to have been written for this purpose. It was written by Asaph, who was himself a Levite, a prophet, and a chief chorister.
Another object of the Psalmist, in this Psalm, is to warn the Hebrew nation against forgetfulness of God's mercies and disobedience to his commands, and substituting in the place of real piety a superstitious dependence on sacred things and sacred places. God had destroyed and forsaken Shiloh, their sacred city, and suffered his own ark to be captured by the heathen, in order to reprove and punish the sacrilegious irreverence and idolatry of his own people. Let them not, therefore, suppose the ark is safe even in Zion, or they themselves secure, unless they honour God by true obedience.
Thus he presents these important thoughts:
“The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows,
To the same effect, also, is the admonition of Jeremiah to the people of his day:
“But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh,
As I have done to Shiloh.”
PS AL M L XXVIII.
ON THE REMOVAL OF THE ARK TO ZION INSTEAD OF SHILOH. An exhortation both to learn and to preach the law of God, 1-8; the story of God's
wrath against the incredulous and the disobedient, 9–66; the Ephraimites and Shiloh being rejected, God chose Judah, Zion, and David, 67–72.
T*Maschil of Asaph, [or a Psalm of Asaph to give instruction].
* Give "ear, O my people, to my law: Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. * I "will open my mouth in a parable, I will utter dark sayings of old: * Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. * We “will not hide them from their children, Showing "to the generation to come the praises of the LoRD, And his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. * For he established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, ^ Which he commanded our fathers, That “they should make them known to their children: * That the generation to come might know them, Even the children which should be born; Who should arise and declare them to their children: * That they might set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep his commandments: *And "might not be as their fathers, A *stubborn and rebellious generation;
* Psa. 74, title. • Deut. 4. 9. Joel 1.8. f2 Kings 17. 14. Ezek. * Isa. 51.4. d Exod. 12. 26, 27. 20. 18. * Psa, 49.4. Mat. 18, 35. e Deut. 4.9. g Exod 82.9. Psa. 68, 6.