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Tuesday, June 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 13

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Verses 1-4


1 Chronicles 11-12 can be considered as an introduction to the next chapters, in which the main subjects are the ark and the temple service. In view of this, God has helped David in confirming his kingship and has brought the people to David.

In Deuteronomy we read about a place that God has chosen (Deuteronomy 12:5) and a king that God has chosen (Deuteronomy 17:14-Ezra :). When Saul was king, it was not sought for that place, and Saul himself is not God’s choice, but the choice of the people (1 Samuel 12:13). Of David we read that God has chosen him (Psalms 78:70). Only when Saul, chosen by the people to satisfy their carnal desires, is set aside can David, chosen by God, ascend the throne.

When David is in power, he goes in search of the place God has chosen for His name to dwell there. In Psalm 132 he expresses his longing for it (Psalms 132:3-Deuteronomy :). There we also read that Sion is that place (Psalms 132:13-2 Chronicles :). Sion is the mountain Moria (2 Chronicles 3:1). On that mountain Abraham offered Isaac on the altar (Genesis 22:1-2 Chronicles :; James 2:21). In this event we see a picture of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus (cf. Hebrews 11:19). David has conquered Sion (1 Chronicles 11:4-Deuteronomy :). There the ark will end up, in the temple that will be built there by Solomon.

Before that time that the ark will have its final resting place, a lot has been done with the ark and the tabernacle in which the ark was. It is good to evaluate these events briefly. We can at the same time make an application to the Lord Jesus of Whom the tabernacle and the ark are a picture.

When the people have come into the land, the tabernacle is placed in Shiloh (Joshua 18:1). There it is until the birth of Samuel, which is a period of hundreds of years. In this we can see in picture the time of the life of the Lord Jesus on earth.

Then the ark is taken by Hofni and Pinehas in the fight against the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:3-Numbers :). But God does not allow these wicked priests to abuse the symbol of His presence. “So that He abandoned the dwelling place at Shiloh, … And gave up His strength to captivity And His glory into the hand of the adversary” (Psalms 78:60-2 Peter :). He has let the ark captured by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:10-1 Kings :; 1 Samuel 5:1). Here we can see a picture of the surrender of the Lord Jesus into death by God (cf. Acts 2:23).

The ark is seven months in the land of the Philistines, but then returns to the land of the LORD (1 Samuel 6:1-Exodus :; 1 Samuel 6:11-1 Chronicles :). This can be seen as a picture of the stay of the Lord Jesus in death, who could not keep Him (Acts 2:24-Hosea :). The ark returns to Israel, but not to Shiloh, but to Abinadab’s house in Kiriath-jearim (1 Samuel 7:1). In this we can see a picture of the risen Lord, Who is no longer seen by all the people, but only in secret by his own.

The ark stays for a long time in Kiriath-jearim, until here the thread of the history of the ark is taken up again. It starts here with the observation that there is unanimity to pick up the ark (1 Chronicles 13:1-Numbers :), without one wondering how to do so and where to go.

It is important how the ark is transported. This leads to the first judgment on the new government, which leads to fear of God on the one hand and domestic blessing on the other (1 Chronicles 13:12-2 Chronicles :). Later, in 1 Chronicles 15, the ark is in the correct way brought to Jerusalem. This can be seen as a picture of the ascension of Christ. The proof of this is the quotation by Paul in Ephesians 4 of Psalm 68 in connection with the ascension (Ephesians 4:8-2 Samuel :; Psalms 68:19).

Finally, the ark is brought into the house that Solomon built. Then the glory of the LORD descends into the temple and fills the temple (2 Chronicles 5:14). This event we can bring into connection with the coming down of the Holy Spirit, through which the church is formed to the house of the living God (Acts 2:1-Numbers :; 1 Timothy 3:15). This happened after the Lord Jesus is glorified in heaven (John 7:39).

David Wants to Bring the Ark to Jerusalem

The first thing David’s heart goes out to when he is king is the ark. He does not seek his ease, but the symbol of the presence of God. The ark is the throne of God. God dwells thereon among His people. The ark is in the heart of David. It has always been there. God has indicated a place where He will make His Name dwell, a central place of worship. His Name is His glory. They have to find that place. By bringing the ark to that place, the royal city becomes the holy city, the center of service to God.

That also applies to us. For us, this is not about a geographical place or a visible building, but about the spiritual characteristics of the church meeting together. If our hearts are open to it, we will look for the place where the Lord Jesus dwells, where He is the center of His New Testament people, the church (Matthew 18:20).

The exercise concerning the search for a dwelling place for the ark is present with only one man, David (1 Chronicles 13:1; 1 Chronicles 17:1). David is not managed or dictated by others, although he is confirmed by others (1 Chronicles 13:2). His heart goes out to the ark, realizing that the ark is of the whole people. A heart that goes out to the Lord Jesus also goes out to all the people of God.

For the retrieval of the ark David consults with the captain and the leaders. Consulting others in the case of a spiritual exercise is not weakness, but wisdom (cf. 2 Chronicles 20:21). Much of the Lord’s work cannot be properly performed without a cordial fellowship with like-minded people. It is also beautiful to see that David speaks about the people as “our … kinsmen”. He is in truth a king “from among your brothers”, a brother with a heart that “does not rise above his brothers” (Deuteronomy 17:15; Deuteronomy 17:20).

What David unfortunately lacks here is consultation with the LORD. This leads to a tragic situation if they implement their plan. We can consult with each other, but if we do not involve the Lord and His Word, our plan will not be carried out to the Lord’s glory.

The people did not seek God’s dwelling place “in the days of Saul”. It’s nice to see that David encloses himself by talking about “we”. Although he did look for it himself, he makes himself one with the people here (cf. Daniel 9:5). The fact that “in the days of Saul” God’s dwelling place was not sought is a lesson for us that a member of God’s people does not ask for the Lord and His service when he lives according to the flesh.

A revival starts with a single person. We see the single person here in David, the man after God’s heart. He had already sought that place when he was still with the sheep and did not know anything about the kingship. We know that from what he says about it in Psalm 132. He searched tirelessly for that place and found it (Psalms 132:4-Joshua :). When he found the ark, he found that place for the ark represents the glory of the LORD. He found it in his heart when he was still in Ephrathah as a shepherd (Psalms 132:6), that is, his heart was convinced that the ark is that dwelling place.

Now he actually goes looking for it and finds the ark. He finds it in the field of Jaär, in the house of Abinadab. There the ark had been for a long time, forgotten by the people, but not by this then still young man. We can now also know where to find the Lord Jesus and see His glory. That is with the two or three who come together as a church in His Name (Matthew 18:20).

Verses 5-8

The Ark on a New Cart

The whole people agree with David that the ark should be picked up. Is that because of their own conviction or because they see the better leader in David compared to Saul? A leader is followed, especially if he is popular (2 Samuel 15:13; 1 Kings 1:5; Galatians 2:11-1 Chronicles :), but on what basis? When the opponents of the Lord Jesus say of Him: “Look, the world has gone after Him” (John 12:19), for many of them that “gone after Him” is nothing more than curiosity.

In all David’s zeal we do not read that he consults the Word of God. What did he think the poles were for (Exodus 25:14; Exodus 40:20)? And were the sons of Kohath not appointed to carry the ark (Numbers 4:15)? David seems to have forgotten it all. A new cart seems to him to be a suitable means of transporting the ark. David’s new cart is his own invention, which seems to be copied from the Philistines (1 Samuel 6:11). In the same way, by Christians to honor Christ, the methods of the (religious) world are adopted, while the precepts of God’s Word are ignored.

About the transport of the ark the LORD said very simply that it must be carried (Numbers 4:15). David’s zeal and joy to bring the ark back does not take sufficient account of God’s thoughts. He works in a Philistine manner and, like them, transports the ark on a cart. The fact that the whole parade is attended by enthusiastic people accompanied by a large music band cannot conceal the fact that the way it is done is disobedience to God’s Word. Bringing the ark to Jerusalem is not wrong in itself. Neither is it wrong to do that with enthusiasm. Also the use of musical instruments is not wrong. It is only all wrong because it is done according to one’s own insight, without consulting the LORD and His Word.

Often we are tempted to judge worship by our feelings, how we feel about it. But when we remember that worship is meant for God, we are referred to His Word to know how He wants He is to be worshipped (John 4:23-Jeremiah :). If we read this history, we see that it is a matter of joy, singing, all kinds of musical instruments, a new cart and cattle. What we miss is the mention of a humble heart that is aware of the holiness of God represented by the ark.

The use of a cart shows that an alternative was sought to the way God had said the ark should be transported. The ark is also ‘held up’ by the cart, just as it is when it is carried on the priests’ shoulders. Why not then in this way, so one could argue?

But ‘the transport on a cart represents in the spiritual application a way of ‘carrying’ which is separate from the spiritual efforts of those ‘who have to carry the ark’. And these efforts and exercises are precious to God, for these efforts and exercises increase with the ‘carriers’ the real spiritual understanding of the Person of Christ, of whom the ark, as we know, is a picture. The use of other means prevents this from happening.

David could have been sure of God’s will if he had acted according to the king’s law, of which he as king should have a copy (Deuteronomy 17:18-Proverbs :). That’s why the punishment he gets is so severe. The Levites and all the people should also have known how God wants the ark to be transported. For the Levites regularly read the law to the whole people (Deuteronomy 31:9-1 Chronicles :).

This is also an important lesson for us. The longing for the place where the Lord Jesus is in the midst is one thing. It is something else to put this desire into practice in a good way. While we may know exactly God’s thoughts and where He dwells, we remain dependent on Him for all the steps we take. Good intentions, zeal, enthusiasm and joy are not enough. We must also act in accordance with the Scriptures, also when it comes to the center and the way of meeting. Obedience is better than the sacrifice of diligence.

Others can act according to the faith they have in a God Whom they do not know personally. We see this in the Philistines, who send the ark back on a cart. However, the people of God must be led by God’s Word.

Verses 9-10

The Death of Uzza

When the procession comes to “the threshing floor of Chidon”, what no one foresaw or even expected happens. The threshing floor is the place where the corn is gathered to separate the chaff from the corn. There is a lot of chaff in this whole parade and God is going to blow it away. The own method chosen for the transport of the ark is chaff. This method may seem more certain than the shoulders of the Levites, but that's just appearance.

We can apply this to all kinds of man-made forms of religion with the intention of protecting the honor of Christ. All these forms have proven to be no guarantee for securing that honor. Confessional writings have taken the place of the Bible and have led the people away from the Scriptures. This opens the door to thoughts about Christ and His work that are against God’s thoughts and that lead the Christian to spiritual death.

Such methods must then be judged by God, no matter how well-intentioned the intentions are. Methods of the flesh do not fit with spiritual things. God must judge Uzza’s well-intentioned attempt to seize the ark with his hand and thereby save it from falling. It is an unauthorized touch of the ark.

For those who are not spiritual, Uzza’s blocking of the ark seems logical and recommended. But what goes against the Scriptures cannot please God. “Which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). The glorified Christ should not be touched by strange teachings and traditions of men.

This is the first judgment during David’s government, right from the start. We also see this judgment at the beginning of the priesthood and at the beginning of the church. Just as Nadab and Abihu and Ananias and Sapphira die before God (Leviticus 10:1-Exodus :; Acts 5:1-1 Kings :), so here Uzza dies before God.

Verses 11-14

The Ark in the House of Obed-edom

David does not readily agree with this judgment, but is displeased, he is angry. It is the anger of powerlessness. He feels his own powerlessness to bring the ark to Jerusalem. He also doesn’t feel worthy that the ark comes to him. Perez means ‘breakthrough’, because what has happened is a breakthrough, an outburst of God’s wrath. It is precisely in such a noble pursuit as bringing the ark to where it belongs that it is important to follow the instructions of God’s Word. The LORD says: “By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy” (Luke 10:3; cf. Esther 9:4-Joshua :). Then the ark gets a home with Obed-edom, that means ‘servant of Edom’.

We may wonder who or what David’s anger is directed at. David may not understand the reason for Uzza’s death. His anger then can be called frustration because the ark does not get the place he desires. Perhaps David should learn that it is not the main thing to bring the ark of God “to me”, as he says in 1 Chronicles 13:12. It is the place that the LORD has chosen and all attention must have been drawn to it. It takes some time to discover that, but then it will be all right. He understands that he should have consulted the LORD as it should have been, for then he would have discovered in God’s light what was lacking.

The house of Obed-edom is blessed, as is later done with Aquila and Priscilla when they open their house for the church and the service of the Word (Acts 18:24-Hosea :; Romans 16:3-Deuteronomy :). Obed-edom is later rewarded for his faithfulness. He becomes a gatekeeper with a harp (1 Chronicles 15:18; 1 Chronicles 15:211 Chronicles 16:38). He doesn’t lose anything when the ark leaves his house, but he gets more and more. This is always the case when we share what we ourselves have received with others. Obed-edom does this by not keeping the ark to himself, but by sharing it with all of Israel. What a blessing David missed just because he did not ask the LORD how He wanted everything to go. In the next chapter he restored and does so (1 Chronicles 14:10; 1 Chronicles 14:14).

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Chronicles 13". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/1-chronicles-13.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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