Numbers and Deuteronomy are a look back. They tell more about the time we read about in Exodus. In chapter 1, we read how the Lord told Moses to take a census of all the men of fighting age. We get the list of the tribes and how many were numbered among them each. I can’t help but notice that Jesus’ tribe of Judah has the most, which they would equate with being the most blessed.
One tribe is not counted — the Levites. They are not to go out to war with the others. They are to guard the tabernacle.
They are to guard, keep watch, preserve the tabernacle and not let it become defiled by an outsider coming near where only the consecrated can enter. They camp around the tabernacle as part of their guard duty. Picture them guarding this holy place night and day.
When we are told to “keep” the commandments, the word “keep” means to guard. We’re to guard the commandments, preserve them. No man is without sin, but any man can keep the commandments.
Keeping the commandments is the difference between Saul and David. David was a man after God’s own heart. We know he sinned, but his heart was after God’s; it pursued God’s heart, His ways, His law.
David wrote songs about his love of God’s Word, of His laws. He encouraged his son that obeying was the way to blessing and life. When his sin was pointed out, he immediately was cut to the heart and repented and turned to God for forgiveness.
Saul, on the other hand, also sinned, discarding God’s instructions about the sacrifices. He didn’t keep the commandments; he didn’t value them. When his sin is pointed out, he justifies himself instead of realizing the weight of what he had done. He doesn’t hold the commandment as important, as life-giving.
David knows his life depends on God’s word. If the Israelites want to dwell with God, they need to guard His presence with them. If we want to dwell with God, we need to set a guard on our heart and keep His commandments.