1 Chronicles 13


Establishment of Worship in Jerusalem (13:1 – 17:27)

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “These chapters chronicle the transformation of Jerusalem into the political and religious center of Israel, beginning with David’s disastrous attempt to transfer the Ark of God from Kiriath-jearim to Jerusalem (13:1-14; cp 2 Sam 6:2-11).”

The Death of Uzzah

      • David consulted with all of his military leaders, including those who commanded groups of a thousand and those who commanded groups of a hundred. Then he said to the whole Israelite assembly, “If it seems good to you, and if it is the will of Yahweh our God, let us send out messages far and wide to our brothers throughout the land of Israel, and also to the priests and Levites in their cities with pasturelands, to come and join us. Let’s move the ark of our God back to us, because we didn’t seek it in Saul’s days.” The proposal seemed right to all the people, so the whole assembly agreed to do it.

        • ESV Study Bible says, “David’s consultation of the leaders and the assembly of Israel shows a concern with national unity and popular participation in issues touching the nation’s life. The decision to retrieve the ark is jointly taken, rather than being purely David’s concern…To ‘seek’ the ark would mean caring for it rightly as the focus of worship. ‘Seeking God’ will emerge as a major theme of the narrative. David’s reign will mark a decisive change from the days of Saul in the people’s commitment to God and to the divinely authorized emblems of Israelite faith.”

        • Guzik reminds 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. 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.”

        • On the statement that they had not sought the ark, I’ll cite a couple of commentaries:

          • Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers: “…that is, neglected it, cared nothing about it. The Ark had been left in the house of Abinadab at Kirjath-jearim, for twenty years, after the Philistines sent it back (1Samuel 7:2). There may be a reference to Saul’s despairing neglect of consulting the Lord (1Chronicles 10:13); and, perhaps, we should translate, ‘we sought Him not,’ referring the suffix to God (comp. 1Chronicles 15:13; Isaiah 9:12). There is no clear evidence that the Ark itself was ever used as an oracle (comp. Exodus 25:10-22; 1Kings 8:9).”

          • Benson Commentary: “The ark was then neglected, and the generality of the people contented themselves with going to Gibeon and offering sacrifices there, not caring, though the ark, the soul of the tabernacle, was in another place. As soon as David had power in his hand, he would use it for the advancement of religion. It ought to be the first care of those that are enriched or preferred, to honour God with their honours, and to serve him, and the interests of his kingdom among men, with their wealth and power.”

        • So David assembled all of Israel from the Shihor River in Egypt to Lebo Hamath to bring the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim. David and all Israel went to Baalah (that is, Kiriath Jearim) in Judah to bring up from there the ark of Yahweh God, who sits enthroned between the cherubim- the ark that is called by His Name.

          • ESV Study Bible writes, “As with the decision to retrieve the ark, the mission itself involves all Israel (vv. 5-6), and not simply David’s soldiers (cf 2 Sam 6:1). Verse 5b of 1 Chronicles 13 describes the broadest possible participation of Israelites: from the Nile of Egypt to Lebo-hamath in the far northeast. For a comparable conception of the boundaries of the Promised Land, see Gen 15:18.”

        • NET Bible explains, “The Shihor River was a river on the border of Egypt, probably the eastern branch of the Nile.”

        • At the end of v. 6, some translations say that God “dwells” between the cherubim. However, HCSB explains, “The Hebrew word for ‘dwells’ means literally ‘the one who sits’; meaning the one who literally sits, or by extension ‘the one who dwells.’ In the present context, and in light of 28:2 where the ark is called a ‘footstool for our God,’ the better translation here is, ‘the one who is enthroned between the cherubim.’”

      • They transported the ark of God from Abinadab’s house on a new cart. Uzzah and Ahio were guiding the cart while David and all the Israelites were celebrating before God with all their might, singing songs and playing all kinds of instruments- lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets. When they came to the threshing floor at Kidon, one of the oxen stumbled and Uzzah reached out his hand to hold the ark. Yahweh’s anger was kindled against Uzzah, and He struck him dead because he had put his hand on the ark. He died right there before God.

        • Guzik does an excellent job of explaining why this occurred, “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 Kohath (Numbers 4:15)…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…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. 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.”

        • ESV Study Bible adds, “Despite their zeal, David and his companions on this occasion fail to respect the sanctity of the ark. Treatment of the ark is tantamount to treatment of God himself. Transporting it by cart…as the Philistines had done…rather than by the Levites bearing it on poles…demonstrated lack of reverence for the sacred object of God’s presence and for the Law of Moses. Uzzah’s action was well-intentioned, but in taking hold of the ark as a layman, he similarly transgressed against its awesome holiness…”

      • David was angry because of Yahweh’s outburst against Uzzah, so he named that place Perez Uzzah, which remains its name to this very day. David was afraid of God that day and said, “How can I ever bring the ark of God to me?” So David didn’t move the ark to the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom of Gath. The ark of God remained with Obed-Edom’s family in his house for 3 months, and Yahweh blessed his family and everything that belonged to him.

        • NET Bible points out, “The name Perez Uzzah means in Hebrew ‘the outburst [against] Uzzah.’”

        • Guzik writes, “David’s anger was based in confusion. He couldn’t understand why his good intentions weren’t enough. God is concerned with both our intentions and our actions. He did not need to be afraid of God, but afraid of his own sin. There was no problem with God or with the ark itself (as the blessing on the house of Obed-Edom demonstrated). The problem was with the lack of knowledge and obedience on the part of David and those who helped him plan the entrance of the ark into Jerusalem.”

        • There is an interesting debate regarding the identity of Obed-Edom. Was he a Philistine (after all he did live in Gath), or was he a Levite and descendant of Kohath? I’ll cite various supporting sources for each view:

          • Obed-Edom was a Philistine:

          • ESV Study Bible: “Leaving the ark with Obed-edom may have been a case of David’s foisting his dangerous burden on the first convenient foreigner, particularly if Gittite (resident of Gath) denotes a Philistine…”

          • International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online: “Obed-edom is an illustration of the service rendered to Hebrew religion by foreigners, reminding one of the Simon of Cyrene who bore the cross of Jesus (Mt 27:32, etc.). The Chronicler naturally desired to think that only Levites could discharge such duties as Obed-edom performed, and hence, the references to him as a Levite.”

        • Obed-Edom was a Levite:

          • Adam Clarke (as cited by Guzik who agrees with him): “That this man was only a sojourner at Gath, whence he was termed a Gittite, and that he was originally a Levite, is evident from 1 Chronicles 15:17-18.”

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