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Alice flopped down on the couch next to Grandpa. “Are there any stories about someone who tries to do their best and everything goes wrong?” she asked.

Grandpa smiled. “Yes, it happened to King David once. And it ends up very nicely, too.” Alice sat up to listen and he began—

The Time to Ask

(From 1 Chronicles 13:15-8)

It all started when David called together the leaders to share his big idea. “If it seems good to you, let us call all the people of Israel together,” he said. “And then we will all bring back the ark of God, for it was forgotten in the days of Saul.”

The ark of the covenant had been kept in a little town ever since the Philistines had sent it back many years before. The king was right—they needed to have the symbol of God’s presence at the capitol, everyone agreed. So King David had a new cart made and a great procession was soon ready to go get the ark of God.

But something went terribly wrong. Right in the middle of all the singing and rejoicing, when everything seemed to be going so well, the oxen stumbled. In horror the priests watched as the new cart swayed, and one of them quickly put out his hand. But it wasn’t the ark of God that tumbled to the ground a moment later. It was the priest, struck dead by the Lord.

You can be sure that the music stopped in a moment. The king stood in shocked amazement. He was both displeased and afraid. It didn’t seem fair that the priest should have died for trying to save the ark. What had they done wrong? “I surely cannot bring the ark home now,” David said, feeling sick at heart. So it was taken to a nearby house and left there.

Life went on as it always does. David was busy in Jerusalem when messengers came from the king of Tyre. He couldn’t help feeling pleased when he heard they had come with carpenters and masons to build him a house. “Surely the Lord has confirmed me as king over Israel,” he thought.

His enemies must have disagreed, for next the Philistine army came out against the new king. David prepared for battle. But in his renewed courage David felt his need of God’s blessing. “Shall I go up against them?” he prayed. “Will You deliver them into my hand?” “Go up,” the Lord assured him, and that day David had a great victory. “Burn all their gods,” the king commanded when the battle was over. “God has broken down my enemies before me.”

It was not long until God led King David in another victory over the Philistines, and the news spread far and wide. Soon all the lands around were afraid of him and Israel was at peace once more. David knew now that the Lord would help him and guide him, even with bringing the ark of God back to Jerusalem.

And David said, “No one should carry the ark of God but the Levites, for God has chosen them to do this work.” King David would gather the people together again. God would help him.

“I’m not sure what made the difference,” Alice said slowly. “How did he know God would help him bring the ark back? Was it because he found out the right way to carry it?”

“Knowing God’s will makes a big difference,” Grandpa agreed. “If you know that Mom plans to make tacos for dinner, then you aren’t afraid to start cutting up the tomatoes.”

“But if I don’t ask, and I just do it, then I might cut up the tomatoes that she was planning to slice for pizza,” Alice said, and smiled a little. “I thought it would be a surprise to get dinner ready, but I guess I should have asked first.”

“Asking is important,” said Grandpa. “It is when David asked and prayed for God to guide him that he started having victories. Remember that.”

“But it is sort of hard. Sometimes I forget and—sometimes I just want to do my plans,” Alice said in a small voice.

“It is fun to have plans and ideas, but isn’t it much better to have God’s blessing? Then you know everything will turn out right,” said Grandpa, as he gave her a hug.