The Mystery Woman
(1 Chronicles 13:14)
by Susan E. Todd

Many of the women we have studied in the Bible, or will be studying, have entire books written about them, such as Ruth and Esther. Many have one or several chapters in a book written about them, Sarah and Rebekah for example. Some of the women have been mentioned in more than one book, like Mary and Priscilla. A few of the women are mentioned in only one verse, such as Mrs. Job and Mrs. Pilot. This woman is not mentioned in the Bible at all, she is only assumed to exist. But her life and what she stands for is well worth studying. This is a lady that I would like for us to have some fun with. She is found or should I say, "not found," in the book of First Chronicles.

(1 Chronicles 13:14) And the ark of God remained with the family of Obed-edom in his house three months. And the LORD blessed the house of Obed-edom, and all that he had.

Our mystery woman is Mrs. Obed-edom. Since the Bible says, "the family of Obed-edom", for purposes of this study, we are going to assume that there was a Mrs. Obed-edom. If she did indeed exist just what kind of a woman was she?

She would have been a woman with tremendous will power and a lot of humility. She would have loved the Lord and been obedient to his commands. She would have loved her husband and been submissive to him. How do I know all this when she is not even mentioned by name in the Bible? We will take a "look" at her in a minute and you'll see what I mean. But first let's set the stage for why the ark was coming to her house when it should have been going to the city of David. What happened that should cause her to come to our attention?

The Ark of the Covenant, which held the Mercy Seat, was the symbol of God's presence to the people of Israel. (Exodus 25:22) And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel. Because of this when the ark was in the tabernacle it was kept behind the veil so no one but the priest could see it and the priest was only allowed to enter the Holy of Holies once a year to make atonement for the sins of the people. When the ark was in view of the people during transportation it was kept well covered.

The ark contained three things, which we find mentioned over in the book of Hebrews. (Hebrews 9:4) . and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; these were the stone tablets on which God wrote the Ten Commandments).

The ark remained at Shiloh until the time of Eli, when it was carried along with the army, in the hope that it would secure victory for the Israelites against the Philistines. However, the Philistines defeated the Israelites and also captured the ark (1 Samuel 4:3-11) believing that the ark was the god of Israel. It was returned after seven months and was taken to Kirjath-jearim, where it remained until the time of David. Its removal to Jerusalem was delayed by the death of Uzzah while carelessly handling it.
(Unger's Bible Dictionary by Merrill F. Unger, Copyright 1957, The Moody Press, Chicago.)

Obed-edom was a Levite of the family of Korah in the clan of Kohath. He was qualified to care for the ark due to his heritage and the instructions given to Moses from God concerning the ark. So for the ark to be brought into his house was a good decision on David's part.

The Ark of the Covenant, the ark that held the Mercy Seat, in which the "Shekinah" Glory of the Lord rested, was the very ark that was brought to the house of Mrs. Obed-edom that day.

Can you imagine what she must have been thinking when she saw her husband bringing the Ark of the Covenant into their home? The news must have reached her long before her husband could tell her what was about to happen. I'm sure she didn't actually believe it when the neighbors told her until she looked out her window and saw the ark coming down the street toward her house.

Like most women the first thought that probably crossed her mind at that moment was, "I have to clean!" She feverishly looked around for a broom. In her haste to locate the dust rag she glanced out the window to see her husband's underwear flapping in the breeze on the clothesline. "This can't be happening to me," she screamed at the dog.

After she composed herself the next thought she more than likely had was "where am I going to put it? I just rearranged the furniture and I don't have any spare out-of-the-way place for it. What am I going to do? Well I suppose I can move a few things into the guest room for now. After all, I'm sure it is only going to be a temporary thing."

As she heard the sound of the trumpets and the noise of the crowd she quickly pulled her apron off, took one last look in the mirror and straightened her hair just as her husband swung open the door and with a big smile on his face yelled, "Honey, I'm home! And boy do I have a surprise for you!"

Now all of this of course is speculation but I told you that I wanted to have some fun with this woman.

We do know one thing about her though. She didn't touch the ark or we would have read about her death, too. Remember Uzzah? (2 Samuel 6:3-7)

If she didn't touch the ark then it meant that she didn't dust it, didn't straighten the covering over it, or re-arrange it with the rest of the furniture.

She also kept the neighbors away from it. I imagine that the word spread very quickly in the neighborhood and surrounding towns that the ark was at the home of the Obed-edoms. People from all over the place had to have come by wanting to look at it. But Mrs. Obed-edom kept them away from it. After all, what if one of them touched it? She didn't need any dead bodies lying around the house. They are so hard to dispose of. And now with the ark she had so little floor space as it was. I'm sure she had people trying to peep in the windows too, so maybe she had to keep the shades down during the day.

She had a tremendous responsibility in keeping the neighbors from wanting to have their pictures taken with it, the baby from crawling under it, the cat from sleeping on top of it.

Today's woman would no doubt have sold miniature arks as souvenirs, had t-shirts made up with the ark printed on the front and the words, "I had the ark of the covenant at my house for three months and you didn't," on the back. Today's woman would have telephoned every one she ever knew back to the days when she was in kindergarten and told them she was keeping the ark. She would have been on the radio talk-shows and television news giving interviews. She would have had her picture in the newspaper and maybe even a book or movie made about her life. Of course she would have chosen Julia Roberts to play her part. Maybe she would even put a web page on the internet to spread her good fortune.

But I believe Mrs. Obed-edom was above all this. I believe that she recognized the ark, not for its commercial value and the fame and fortune it could bring her but, for what it was and what it represented, and for that, the Obed-edoms were blessed.

The most important lesson we can learn from Mrs. Obed-edom is that of perspective. Now ladies if we would be honest with ourselves we would have to admit that we are all just a little bit like our "make-believe" Mrs. Obed-edom. We tend to be fanatical about the wrong things. We want our house to look just perfect or we won't let anyone in. We have become "coordination conscious." We live in the age of Martha Stewart. We have to have matching everything.

Try living on the mission field in a third world country. You learn to do the best you can with what you have. Nothing in our house matches. That is not the way I want it but that is the reality of it. We don't have a Wal-Mart over here! It used to bother me but it really doesn't anymore because that ever-present layer of dust covers everything in the house so it all tends to blend together rather nicely and take on that "old world" charm that you hear so much about. Let me be the first to tell you that there is nothing charming about dust.

Let's not be so concerned with the little things that we miss the big picture. There was a real danger for Mrs. Obed-edom to be a Martha instead of a Mary. (Luke 10:38-41) Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

In this story Martha had the Lord in her home and she was so concerned with trifles that she almost missed the real blessing. The same could have been true of Mrs. Obed-edom. Here was a woman who had the very presence of God in her home. Was she busy with a publicity campaign or enjoying what few other people were ever likely to experience in their lifetime?

Will we make plans to invite the preacher over for dinner and hopefully glean some extra Bible knowledge from him or stare at the chips in the china plates and forget the whole idea?

Will we say "yes" to the offer to house the visiting missionary for the night and get some real insight into what it is like to leave all, take up your cross daily and follow the Lord or will we put the guest towels back in the cupboard because they don't match and shamefully say "no?"

Will we help feed the guest evangelist or make him spend his own money and take his family out to a restaurant because our casserole dishes are not the latest style? Martha would, but Mary wouldn't miss the opportunity to sit at the Master's feet.

What is our decision going to be when faced with the same set of questions or circumstances? Will we major on the minors and make mountains out of molehills or will we swallow our pride, sit back, relax and enjoy the blessings that the Lord wants to give us? The ark of the covenant is on its way to your house today. What are you going to do about it?