1 Chronicles 11-13
The Reign of King David, cont’d. 1 Chronicles 9-29:21
1 Chronicles 11:1-9-David is anointed king of Israel (Samuel had anointed him 20 years earlier, cf. 1 Samuel 16:13). For 7½ years David had been the king of Judah (cf. 2 Samuel 2:4) while Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth, was the king of Israel and Transjordan (cf. 2 Samuel 2:8-9). Now, he is the king over the reunited nation. He then leads them to capture the city of Jerusalem. At that time it was called Jebus (Jebusites lived there). There, he lived in a stronghold and it was referred to as the "city of David" (:7). He began to build and strengthen Jerusalem.
1 Chronicles 11:10-47-This is a list of the "mighty men of David". These were the men who stood with David…”who gave hi strong support in his kingdom” (:10). Evidently, from what is said here, their acts of bravery and heroism were the stuff of legend.
1 Chronicles 12:1-40-These are the men who came to support David before he was officially king...while he was running from Saul at Ziklag (cf. 1 Samuel 27,30). Among them were even some of Saul's relatives. These are the ones who came to make him king when Saul had died.
1 Chronicles 13:1-14-David tries to bring the Ark of God back.
- Let us bring the ark of our God back to us: This was the ark of the covenant, which God commanded Moses to make more than 400 years before David's time. It was a wood box (the word ark means "box" or "chest") completely covered with gold and with an ornate gold lid or top known as the mercy seat.
- The ark of our God was 3 feet 9 inches long, 2 feet 3 inches wide and 2 feet 3 inches high. In it were the tablets of the law that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai, a jar of manna, and the Aaron's rod that miraculously budded as a confirmation of his leadership.
- The ark of our God had come back from the land of the Philistines some 70 years before this (1 Samuel 7:1). In those years it sat at the house of Abinadab, but now David and the people wanted to bring it back to the center of the national consciousness.
- For the thing was right in the eyes of all the people: The idea of bringing the ark of the covenant back to the center of Israel's consciousness was good; their method of bringing it would soon be exposed as faulty.
- It was good for both David and for the Israelites to have the ark in Jerusalem. "He knew that not he, but Jehovah, was their true King. His own rule must depend upon the will and counsel of God. This it was not only necessary for him to know, the fact must be recognized by the people." (Morgan)
David Guzik :: Study Guide for 1 Chronicles 15,
There was much celebration. However, at one point the ark almost fell of the cart carrying it and when a man tried to hold it on he died because he touched it. David became angry...because they had not done as God commanded in moving the ark. He decided to leave it in the home of Obed-edom the Gittite. It stayed there for 3 months and God blessed his home during that time. David had tried to do a good thing...but He did not do it God's way and that was unacceptable to God.
- To bring up from there the ark of God the LORD, who dwells between the cherubim, where His name is proclaimed: The ark of God represented the immediate presence and glory of God in Israel. David considered it a high priority to bring the ark out of obscurity and back into prominence. David wanted Israel to be alive with a sense of the near presence and glory of God.
- So they carried the ark of God on a new cart: Transporting the ark on a cart was against God's specific command. The ark was designed to be carried (Exodus 25:12-15) and was only to be carried by Levites of the family of Koath (Numbers 4:15).
- "There it was expressly ordained that the Ark should be carried on the shoulders of the priests, because the cause of God must proceed through the world by the means of consecrated men, rather than by mechanical instrumentality." (Meyer)
- We can imagine what these men thought. "Look - we have a new cart for the ark of God. God will be very pleased at our fancy new cart." They thought that a new technology or luxury could cover over their ignorant disobedience.
iii. "The long neglect of the Ark may have rendered these men unfamiliar with the very explicit commands concerning the method of its removal. Or they may have grown careless at to the importance of attending to such details." (Morgan)
- The Philistines transported the ark on a cart in 1 Samuel 6:10-11. They got away with it because they were Philistines, but God expected more from His people. Israel was to take their example from God's Word, not from the innovations of the Philistines. "Israel got into difficulties because they failed to recognize that worship of the true God meant they could no longer simply follow contemporary pagan practices." (Selman)
- Uzza and Ahio drove the new cart: The meaning of the names of these sons of Abinadab paint a meaningful picture. Uzza means "strength" and Ahio means "friendly."
- Much service for the LORD is like this - a new cart, a big production, with strength leading and friendly out front - yet all done without inquiring of God or looking to His will. Surely David prayed for God's blessing on this big production, but he didn't inquire of God regarding the production itself. This was a good thing done the wrong way.
- Then David and all Israel played music before God: Judging from the importance of the occasion and all the instruments mentioned, this was quite a production. The atmosphere was joyful, exciting, and engaging. The problem was that none of it pleased God because it was all in disobedience to His word.
- We are often tempted to judge a worship experience by how it makes us feel. But when we realize that worship is about pleasing God, we are driven to His word so we can know how He wants to be worshipped.
- "If you read the story through, you will see that it appears to be an affair of singing, and harps, and psalteries, and timbrels, and cymbals, and trumpets, and of a new cart and cattle; that is about all there is in it. There is not even a mention of humiliation of heart, or of solemn awe in the presence of that God of whom the ark was but the outward symbol. I am afraid that this first attempt was too much after the will of the Flesh, and the energy of nature." (Spurgeon)
- The death of Uzza and its aftermath.
- (9-11) Uzza touches the ark and is killed in judgment.
And when they came to Chidon's threshing floor, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzza, and He struck him because he put his hand to the ark; and he died there before God. And David became angry because of the Lord's outbreak against Uzza; therefore that place is called Perez Uzza to this day.
- When they came to Chidon's threshing floor: At a threshing floor the whole stalks of wheat are gathered and the chaff is separated from the wheat. There was a lot of chaff in this production, and God would blow away the chaff at Chidon's threshing floor.
- Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark: This was strictly forbidden. Regarding the transporting of the ark Numbers 4:15 says, they shall not touch any holy thing lest they die. He did it because the oxen stumbled (perhaps seeing the grain on the threshing floor) and he feared that perhaps the ark might fall of the new cart and crash to the ground. He believed that his hand on the ark was better than the ark on the ground.
- Uzza made a decision in a moment to disregard God's command and do what seemed right to him. This shows us that even our decisions made in a moment matter before God.
- He struck him because he put his hand to the ark: God fulfilled the ominous promise of Numbers 4:15 and struck Uzza. David wanted Israel to know the presence of the LORD and God showed up at Chidon's threshing floor - but not in the way anyone wanted.
- The sin of Uzza was more than just a reflex action or instinct. God struck Uzza because his action was based upon critical errors in his thinking.
- Uzza erred in thinking it didn't matter who transported the ark.
- Uzza erred in thinking it didn't matter how the ark was transported.
- Uzza erred in thinking he knew all about the ark because it was in his father's house for so long (2 Samuel 6:3)
- Uzza erred in thinking that God couldn't take care of the ark of Himself.
- Uzza erred in thinking that the ground of Chidon's threshing floor was less holy than his own hand.
- "He saw no difference between the ark and any other valuable article. His intention to help was right enough; but there was a profound insensibility to the awful sacredness of the ark, on which even its Levitical bearers were forbidden to lay hands." (Maclaren)
David Guzik :: Study Guide for 1 Chronicles 13,
Prayer: Lord, please show me not only what You want me to do…but also, how to do it. Don’t ever let me presume to know on my own. I want to please You in every facet of faith and obedience.