1 Chronicles 13, 15&16: The Ark Comes Back to Jerusalem

A discussion on transporting the ark back to Jerusalem. This parallels 2 Samuel 6.


In 1 Samuel 6-7, Saul leads the Israelites in taking the Ark back from the Philistines. Once recovered, it is entrusted to Abinadab in Kirjathjearim. David references this in 1 Chronicles 13:3 when he points out that in Saul's day the Israelites had left the Ark in Kirjathjeraim without thought. David knew that God's Ark was to be in the place God had appointed (Jerusalem) and he intended to get it there! 1 Chronicles 13, 15, and 16 parallels the information given in 2 Samuel 6, and tells us of the Ark's journey from Kirjathjeraim to Jerusalem.

Death of Uzza

David takes quite the procession with him to retrieve the Ark. This honor was given because the Ark was the holiest object God had instructed the Israelites to create. In this procession of people was a man named Uzzah (or Uzza). Uzzah tries to steady the Ark but is struck dead by God for touching the Ark. Seeing this, the other men become afraid and decide to leave the ark with Obededom, who's family is blessed by the Lord for keeping the Ark.

Relating to Today

Uzzah's death is one of those things that makes you stop and think. Even David thought God had "made a breach upon Uzzah" (1 Chronicles 13:11, 2 Samuel 6:8). Uzza is seemingly doing the right thing, but is subsequently punished... Why?

The first thing we should note is that the Ark was being transported by a cart, which isn't how the ark was supposed to be transported in the first place. The Ark was to be carried by the Levites using the staffs created specifically for it. I'm not sure how much the Ark weighed, but I'd wager it was heavy enough to put some strain on the shoulders of men who weren't used to carrying it. Placing it in a cart and letting oxen pull it was easier and more convenient.

We often fall into the trap of compromising God's Word to do the convenient thing. Wether we try to create our own Sabbath day so as not to disrupt or inconvenience our managers or we take part in worldly customs so as not to seem odd, we place ourselves—and perhaps those around us—in the same danger Uzzah was in.

If the Israelites had followed God's instructions concerning the Ark, it would have been held steady by the Levites appointed to carry it. Of course, if the Israelites had followed God's Word, the Ark would never have taken from them in the first place. Nonetheless, if the Levites were carrying the Ark as instructed, one man faltering would not have placed the Ark in danger of falling to the ground. Furthermore, someone jumping in to save the day would have grabbed the staff to steady the Ark.

Uzzah may have been right in his fear of the Ark falling, but he was just as wrong as everyone else in letting them transporting it in such a manner. In the chapters surrounding the verses (in both 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles) we never see Uzzah step up to tell anyone that they shouldn't be carrying the Ark in that manner. He knew the Ark was holy enough that it couldn't touch the ground, so why did he think he could touch it?

Uzzah was in the position where his options probably looked bleak. He could touch the Ark to steady it, and die. Or he could have left it alone and possibly witness it falling. Had the ark fell, however, there was a pretty good chance God would have punished everyone right then and there. Uzzah made the decision he thought was best; despite angering God in the process, he may have saved the lives of his fellow men.

The Final Move

After the event with Uzzah, David makes sure that the ark is being taken care of precisely the way Moses described. He realizes that they were punished for not following God's protocol, so he demands the Levites sanctify themselves and take up their duty. David also assigns them to positions to praise God with music. As they carried the Ark, those in charge of the trumpet, cymbals, etc., likely played to rejoice and praise God.

Now that everything was in order, they could bring the Ark back to Jerusalem safely. Once the Ark was in Jerusalem, they sacrificed 7 rams and 7 bullocks unto God. This was a great time of celebration. We are retold that David danced before God and his first wife, Michal, despised him for this (2 Samuel 6:16 and 1 Chronicles 15:29).

Keepers of the Ark

An man named Asaph and his brothers were left to minister before the ark. Obededom and his 68 brothers were to be porters. Zadok was the high priest. Heman and Jeduthun were placed in charge of music.

Music was clearly apart of worship from the beginning, however today there is much confusion over what is acceptable music versus unacceptable music. Many argue that since we are to be set apart from the world, our music should be too. having been to a church where I couldn't tell if I was in the club or the church, I understand this point of view. However, God never specified a proper genre, and even our hymns today match popular music from a different era. I thin kGod can come through any genre. I think the main concern is what your spirit takes in when you hear a particular song. There are certain songs where the music is all you hear; it invokes a fleshly desire to dance—these are the song where God gets lost in the worldiness of the music. However there are also contemporary gospel songs in which you can feel the Spirit moving.

David's Psalm

Some of the psalms found in the Book of Psalms were penned by king David, and in 1 Chronicles 16 that we find that before anything was done, David's delivered a psalm of praise to God. The structure of the psalm is as follows: giving thanks, worship/praise, recounting His blessings, history of the covenant, worship/praise, thanks.



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