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FRAMEWORKS: 1 Chronicles

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FRAMEWORKS: 1 Chronicles 13: David's failure to bring the ark back


[Introductory 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.]


v.1-4 They decide to bring the ark to Jerusalem


v.1   David conferred with each of his officers, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds.

v.He 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 join us.

v.3  Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not enquire of it during the reign of Saul.'

v.The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people.


[Notes: The idea of bringing the ark to the centre of the life of Israel at its new capital, Jerusalem, was good.]


v.5,6 They gather to move the ark


v.5  So David assembled all Israel, from the River Shihor in Egypt to Lebo Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim.

v.6   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.


[Notes: The Law [Deut 10:8] required only Levites to carry the ark. There is no mention of them here. David had not thought about this.]


v.7-10 As they casually move the ark, one man dies


v.7  They moved the ark of God from Abinadab's house on a new cart, with Uzzah and Ahio guiding it.

v.8  David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, cymbals and trumpets.

v.9  When they came to the threshing-floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled.

v.10  The Lord 's anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.


[Notes: 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.]


v.11-14 David abandons the attempt to move the ark


v.11  Then David was angry because the Lord 's wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.

v.12  David was afraid of God that day and asked, ‘How can I ever bring the ark of God to me?'

v.13  He 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.

v.14  The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had.


[Notes: 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.]



Continue to Ch.14