Chapter 13 provides the narrative of David’s desire and attempt to return the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. Ezra (assuming he’s the author of Chronicles), places this narrative out of sequence, up front, perhaps to emphasize David’s heart and desire to please God and the people. The first few verses show that everyone agreed this was a good idea; however, no one apparently remembered to proper procedures — or perhaps they were afraid to tell the new king he was making a mistake. Interesting thought.
David wanted to make a big production out of transferring the ark–all good intentions–but failed to properly transport the ark as laid out the law. Only the Levites (specifically the Kohathite clan (see Exodus 25:12-15 and Numbers 4:15) were supposed to carry the articles of the temple and even they were further instructed on how to carry it with certain poles, etc.
He failed. Uzzah died.
It’s interesting that verse 10 says, “the Lord’s anger” followed by verse 11, “David was angry.” David’s party was a bust and he knew he blew it in front of all of Israel.
David was afraid of God that day
1 Chronicles 13:12
This is real fear, the kind of fear born from guilt and recognition that he was mistaken, that perhaps he had his focus too much on his own glory. I feel bad for David. Years of hiding and running from Saul are finally over and he has assembled an incredible army of devoted fighting men. God is certainly on his side. So many times we see amazing, gifted leaders, filled with the Holy Spirit, get out of step with God’s plan. Unintentionally, they let their personal agenda out-rank that of God’s plan. The results are always disastrous. The only real question is when, not if; they will fall?
David’s reaction is to leave the ark in the nearby village:
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. 1 Chronicles 13:14
God honored those who cared for the ark, again my presumption is simple: Obed-Edom sought to honor God above David; therefore, the Lord blessed them.
David got his act together quickly and the Lord blessed him with many children (though I’m hard-pressed to understand the “many” wives idea). In Chapter 14, the narrative shows David asking God for direction, then promptly defeating the Philistines, not once, but twice.
Now David is on the right path, he is walking in step with the Lord.
It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.” 1 Chronicles 15:13
“We” seems a little defensive, but perhaps David was given bad advice, so it may be that he is simply deflecting the blame and letting the people know he was part of the “we.”
Chapter 15 shows a careful account of moving the ark properly, complete with the combined worship teams and full celebration! Here we go–try #2!
I love this thought:
So David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of units of a thousand went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-Edom, with rejoicing. 1 Chronicles 15:25
“With rejoicing.” There is nothing like ministry when everyone is in step, when all hearts and voices are honoring and praising the Lord! It’s difficult to put into words, perhaps impossible, but the sense you get when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what you’re doing in the moment is exactly what God wants you to be doing is sensational. That’s the sense I get from the phrase, with rejoicing, here. So cool.
But wait, there’s Michal watching from afar. She is not so moved by the show. The details in 2 Samuel 6:14 show that David was dancing with all his might, undignified in her eyes, so she despised David. Sad to read the result in 2 Samuel 6:23, she had no children to the day of her death.
So goes the roller-coaster of ministry here on earth where God’s imperfect people try to do their best. Lord, don’t let the downs outweigh the ups! Help us to celebrate freely and not be so focused on those who want to selfishly point out our mistakes. Grace to grace. Your will above ours. Teach us to love each other:
having the same love,
being one in spirit and of one mind.
Yes, Lord, help us to be that community of believers that leans on each other. I hope and pray that we can do this while keeping you the center of all.