1 Chronicles 13: David's
failure to bring the ark back
Notes: Now David has been established as king [as seen
in the previous two chapters] David realises that Israel's ‘spiritual
history' has not yet been integrated into his new capital city,
Jerusalem. The Tabernacle and the ark were still at Kiriath Jearim
where it had remained for twenty years after the ark had been
returned by the Philistines [1 Sam 7:1,2]. Unfortunately, he has
to learn that the ark was holy and there were specific instructions
for handling it, and failure to follow those would be dangerous.
This chapter is about good intentions but, being accompanied by
that failure, resulted in a death and a new-found fear and respect
for the Lord.]
They decide to bring the ark to Jerusalem
with each of his officers, the commanders of thousands and commanders
then said to the whole assembly of Israel, ‘If it seems good to
you and if it is the will of the Lord
our God, let
us send word far and wide to the rest of our people throughout
the territories of Israel, and also to the priests and Levites
who are with them in their towns and pasture-lands, to come and
us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not enquire
of it during the reign of Saul.'
whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all
The idea of bringing the ark to the centre of the life
of Israel at its new capital, Jerusalem, was good.]
They gather to move the ark
David assembled all Israel, from the River Shihor in Egypt to
Lebo Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim.
David and all
Israel went to Baalah of Judah (Kiriath Jearim) to bring up from
there the ark of God the Lord
, who is enthroned
between the cherubim – the ark that is called by the Name.
The Law [Deut 10:8] required only Levites to carry the
ark. There is no mention of them here. David had not thought about
As they casually move the ark, one man dies
moved the ark of God from Abinadab's house on a new cart, with
Uzzah and Ahio guiding it.
and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before
God, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, cymbals and
they came to the threshing-floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his
hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled.
anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he
had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.
Instead of the holy Levites carrying the ark with its
long poles, they simply place the ark on a cart pulled by oxen
with two men guiding it. As the oxen stumble, one of them reaches
out to steady the ark – and dies! As the ark must have been previously
manhandled by the Philistines [see 1 Sam 4-6] this death appears
to be the Lord giving Israel – and David – a fresh lesson in His
holiness. The ark was no plaything, no simple token of the Lord's
presence, but something to be respected and honoured.]
David abandons the attempt to move the ark
David was angry because the Lord
's wrath had
broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called
was afraid of God that day and asked, ‘How can I ever bring the
ark of God to me?'
did not take the ark to be with him in the City of David. Instead,
he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.
ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house
for three months, and the Lord
household and everything he had.
David's anger – unless it was in respect of his own carelessness
– is misplaced, but it is accompanied by the fear of the Lord,
a holy respect for God. David essentially backs away from the
whole project of moving the ark and so it remains with a nearby
household for three months and the householder knew the Lord's
blessing, a fact that no doubt did not escape David's notice [see
2 Sam 6:12]. There it remains until he has time to think through
the proper way to move it, that is seen in chapter 15.]