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When a Moralistic Mission Goes Awry, Part 1

by | Apr 2, 2018 | Guidance, When a Moralistic Mission Goes Awry (A Mini-Series)

Heard of anecdotes when something done with an apparently good intention, but done in the wrong way, went haywire? Here’s one for starters…

Who can forget a school time story often told to emphasize the importance of proper usage of punctuation marks? It is said that on account of a last-minute Presidential pardon, a convict’s death sentence by hanging was slashed. But unfortunately, due to improper usage of a comma, the wired message to the Prison (sent in a hurry), where this convict was to be executed, read: “Hang him, not release him” instead of the supposed “Hang him not, release him”.

Coming to the spiritual realm…St. Jerome, the patron saint of translators, studied Hebrew so he could translate the Old Testament into Latin from the original language instead of from the third century Greek version that everyone else had used. The resulting Latin version, known as, “The Vulgate”, which became the basis for hundreds of subsequent translations, contained a famous mistake. When Moses comes down from Mount Sinai, his head has “radiance” or, in Hebrew, “karan.” But Hebrew is written without the vowels, and St. Jerome had read “karan” as “keren” or “horned.” From this error came centuries of paintings and sculptures of Moses with horns. Even the great renaissance artist Michael Angelo sculpted Moses with a horn, and thus, the odd offensive stereotype of the “horned Jew” was born.

While at best (or worst…Sic), the resultant damage may have been limited to some Jewish sentiments getting rubbed the wrong way courtesy this semantic error of that great Saint, there was nothing as catastrophic as the loss of life, nor was any incumbent King left with egg on his face, so to speak. Now welcome to the Biblical story that resulted in just that! Consider David’s gaffe over transporting the Ark of the Covenant (1 Chron. 13:1-14) from Kiriath-Jearim to Jerusalem in an ox-cart instead of on the shoulders of Priestly Kohathites (Numbers 4:15/Numbers 7:19)!

It is an altogether different story as to why the Ark, which symbolized both God’s presence and His Covenantal relationship with Israel, landed in Kiriath-Jearim in the first place, when it ought to have been in the “The Most Holy Place” (a separate Chamber) of the Tabernacle at Gibeon. Incidentally the story of Tabernacle itself moving to Gibeon from its original place of erection in Shiloh (Joshua 18:1) is a gargantuan subject in itself. Amongst others, the subject would lead us to a topic culminating in a fascinating time in Israel’s history, when there were for the first and only time, two High Priests. One was in Gibeon and the other in Jerusalem (See1 Kings 4:4). Yours truly will endeavour to throw light on fascinating subjects some other time, but in this 3-part series, we will see what lessons can be glean from David’s moralistic mission gone awry. We will focus on alliteration, sub-headings beginning with “M”, as we, of this generation, are better served in paying proper attention to our Lord’s instructions (1 Cor 10:11)…


Until this goof-up, one of the outstanding characteristics of the man of God’s own heart, David himself (See1 Sam 13:14/Acts 13:22), had been to often “enquire of the Lord”. A careful study of the Scriptures would reveal that until this “spiritual blunder”, David had enquired of the Lord when faced with different challenges not less than 6 times (1 Sam 23:2,4/1 Sam 30:8/2 Sam 2:1/2 Sam 5:19,23). Sadly, however, before embarking on this “noble” mission of bringing the Ark of the Covenant to the permanent “home of God”, Jerusalum, where the temple would soon be constructed (SeePs. 132:13-14), instead of Gibeon, which was only a temporary place for the Lord’s presence in dispensation of Law, there is no mention of this great King “enquiring of the Lord”. The Scriptures say he, “consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader” (1 Chron. 13:1 NLT) instead. If seeking the Lord’s opinion seemed too much to ask for David, then ideally instead of military leaders, it would have served him well to consult the Levitical leaders before making the “final call” on the subject. This was, in all, predominantly a spiritual matter…Talk of consulting a Nephrologist to discuss your Cardiac problem, rather than a seeing a Cardiologist…

Sadly, it would seem that David missed out on the obvious opportunity to seek the right answer from the right source. While the saying, “the work well begun is half-done” is true, the converse of it is also equally true: work not well begun, is half-done for! Say Servant of God, are you prayerfully enquiring of the Lord before launching out on any noble mission that is purportedly to be carried out for His Glory?

Prayer: Father, we confess of our haste shown in taking up spiritual projects without properly seeking Your counsel in those matters. Forgive us and make us fully dependent on you for all of our projects, from the their beginning until their end. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Suresh Manoharan
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries

(To access the entire “Moralistic Mission Gone Astray” Mini-Series, please clickhere.)