2 Samuel 6:12-19 describes how Israelís people brought the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem, their capital city. The ark was a box, a very sacred object that was evidence of Godís relationship (or covenant) with Israel. It showed that God was present with his people.
Paul repeats words from Psalm 68:18 in Ephesians 4:8. In that Psalm, David describes the wonderful procession as the ark entered Jerusalem. David compares that procession to the great processions that people organised for their military leaders after a successful battle. He is describing God as Israelís great king and hero, who has defeated his enemies. That is why Psalm 68:18 refers both to prisoners, and to gifts. It was the custom both to send and to receive gifts on such an occasion, as 1 Samuel 30:16-31 shows.
By his reference to Psalm 68, Paul is teaching us about Christís work. By his death, Christ defeated the devil (Hebrews 2:14). Then Christ rose from death and he took his place of honour and authority in heaven (Philippians 2:9-11). That was like the occasion when the ark received its proper place in Jerusalem.
Christ had defeated his enemies; now, he gave gifts for all the people who accept his authority over their lives. His grace (great kindness) is not just for people who have been loyal to him. God wants to forgive the people who have opposed him (Romans 5:6-8). That happened in Paulís life (1 Timothy 1:12-16), and it can happen in our lives, too. Then Christís gifts (4:11-14) will be for us, too. Christ will give us what we need to bring us into a mature relationship with him. God, who has begun this good work in our lives, will certainly complete it (Philippians 1:6).
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© 2018, Keith Simons.