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David Pitches a Tent for the Ark
The houses David builds for himself are possibly houses for his many wives. After all, Hiram has already taken care of a house for David (1Chr 14:1). David also provides a house where the ark can dwell. Even if the transport of the ark in 1 Chronicles 13 would have succeeded, then there would have been no room made ready for it. David does that now. As an application we can say that we may build for ourselves, but that we must ensure that there is also a place where the Lord Jesus, of Whom the ark is a picture, can be.
David pitches a tent for the ark. It is a simple house, not yet a temple. Also if we prepare a dwelling place for the Lord Jesus, it will be a simple accommodation and not a dwelling place that impresses the flesh. It is a place outside the camp (Heb 13:13), that is, a place apart from Christianity as an organized system. In such a system, access to God in the inner sanctuary is closed to believers and only possible through an official ecclesiastical representative. This is a denial of the perfect work of Christ by which every believer has that access and it is made free (Heb 10:19-22).
Also today it is possible to come together as a church to be there with the Lord Jesus. It is about what is in that tent, the ark, just as it is now where the Lord Jesus is. In doing so, we must keep an eye on the whole people of God, even though many of God’s people stay away.
David cannot bring the ark into the tabernacle because it is no longer there (Psa 78:60-61; Jer 7:12-15). In the days of Eli the tabernacle is in Shiloh. The ark is captured by the Philistines and probably they also partly or completely destroyed the tabernacle. That is a serious judgment. The little left of it has ended up in Gibeon, as is the burnt offering altar where Solomon comes to meet the LORD (2Chr 1:5-6). God has set aside the tabernacle system. That’s why David himself puts up a tent for the ark.
There are three tents in the Old Testament as dwelling place for God:
1. the tent where Moses meets God (Exo 33:7-11; Exo 34:34-35),
2. the tabernacle (Exodus 25-40) and
3. this tent at Sion.
The Ark Is Brought to Sion
To bring the ark to Sion, David now gives the right orders (1Chr 15:2). Here, as king of God’s people, he takes responsibility in religious matters. On him rests the duty to lead God’s people in the right way in honoring the LORD.
He acknowledges that things went wrong last time because they “did not seek Him according to the ordinance” (1Chr 15:13). The ordinance is that no one but the Levites may transport the ark and that they must do so by “carrying” it (1Chr 15:2; 1Chr 15:15; Num 7:9). It is not enough that we do what is good, but it is also important to do it in the right way, the lawful way (cf. 2Tim 2:5).
David involves “all Israel” in the bringing up of the ark to Jerusalem (1Chr 15:3). For us it means that all believers have a duty to give the Lord Jesus the place He deserves in the meeting. For the actual replacement of the ark, David mobilizes the priests and the Levites, called by name and number (1Chr 15:4-10). David determines in every respect how and by whom the transport should take place.
Two priests are mentioned (1Chr 15:11). They come from the two lines of the remaining sons of Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar (Lev 10:1; 6). Zadok is a descendant of Aaron via Eleazar, and Abiathar is a descendant of Aaron via Ithamar. The priesthood will continue through Zadok according to God’s thoughts. We see this later during the reign of Solomon and also in the temple service in the kingdom of peace which is described in the book Ezekiel (Ezekiel 40-48).
David also speaks about the condition, the spiritual preparation for the task (1Chr 15:12). This preparation has been neglected the first time and has been the cause of God having to inflict a heavy blow on them. The condition is that those who occupy themselves with the ark must consecrate themselves. As a result, they will be kept from a second heavy blow. The positive aspect is that they will experience the joy of the LORD.
Consecration means that they separate themselves from any form of uncleanness. If we want to enjoy the blessing of the Lord’s presence, we will have to “cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2Cor 7:1).
After the priests have done what is asked of them, they go to pick up the ark (1Chr 15:14). Then the ark is carried in the manner prescribed by the LORD, which is on the shoulders of the Levites (1Chr 15:15). The shoulders of the Levites are a better means of transport than the strongest and most beautiful cart. We see in it the picture that God has entrusted the glory of the Lord Jesus to the hands of His servants, to their responsibility.
In carrying the ark on the shoulders of the Levites we can also think of the Divine power that works in His servants (Eph 3:20). Levites present the gifts of the Lord Jesus to the church and in this context perhaps especially the teachers (Eph 4:11). The power of God’s Spirit gives them the spiritual ability to uphold the glory of Christ in all its riches and to show it before the eyes of God’s people.
Bringing the ark to Sion is important for three reasons:
1. It means that Sion is the place where the LORD wants His Name to dwell. That is the place we must look for. Then we find the ark. For us it means that we find the Lord Jesus in the place where He is central and the service is done in accordance with His Word, because of Him the ark is a picture.
2. The ark was led into exile and is now returning from it under the guidance of David. In Scripture we read four times about an exile:
a. Israel in Egypt,
b. the ark at the Philistines,
c. the two tribes in Babylonian exile and
d. the exile that Israel is currently in.
Each time the deliverance from exile means that the people, or a remnant, return to the country.
a1. We see that it happens for Israel when the people led by Moses leave Egypt to go to the promised land.
b1. We see it here when David brings the ark to Jerusalem.
c1. Later we see it when a remnant from the two tribes led by Zerubbabel from the Babylonian exile goes back to Israel.
d1. We will still see it when the current exile will end with a return to the country by the arrival of the Messiah.
3. The name of Christ is uniquely linked to Sion by David bringing up the ark to that place. Sion also represents grace (Heb 12:22a). This mountain contrasts with Mount Sinai (Gal 4:25; Heb 12:18-21), the mountain which is a symbol of man under the law. From now on, the history of Israel will be dominated by Sion, although here literally by the law as well. But fundamentally God acts on the basis of grace through the ark, through David and through Zadok. These three we find combined in the Lord Jesus.
Four names are used for the ark. This can be compared with the content of the four Gospels:
1. “The ark of the LORD” (1Chr 15:12) we see in the Gospel according to Matthew. This name reminds us that God keeps His promises by letting the prophetic word come true in the King of Israel.
2. In Exodus the ark is also called ‘the ark of the testimony’ (Exo 25:22). We see this in the Gospel according to Mark, in which the Lord Jesus is presented as the Servant and Witness of God.
3. “The ark of the LORD’s covenant” (1Chr 15:25) is seen in the Lord Jesus as the Gospel according to Luke describes Him. The Lord Jesus as the true Man, the Man according to God’s thoughts, is the foundation of the new covenant as the expression of God’s goodness in Christ towards man.
4. The Gospel according to John shows us “the ark of God” (1Chr 15:24). John presents the Lord Jesus as the Son of God.
These four aspects we may see when we meet at the place where He is in the midst. He is the true center of the meeting of the church where the hearts go out to Him in His great beauty.
We see three tasks of the Levites: they carry the ark (1Chr 15:15), they perform the service of singing (1Chr 15:16) and they are guardians of the ark (1Chr 15:23).
Where the ark is, there is joy. David has understood that. With this in mind, he has linked a whole new service to that place: the service of the singers. At the tabernacle we do not read about singers, they are not even mentioned in the books of Samuel and of Kings. Only here, in connection with the ark’s final resting place, is this joyful service mentioned. At the place where the ark stands, singing is done.
God’s people are a singing people. This also applies to the church (Eph 5:19-20; Col 3:16-17; Heb 13:15), especially when the church meets around the Lord Jesus (1Cor 14:15b; 1Cor 14:26). It is a service to the Lord, in full awareness of His guidance in that service. For He starts the hymn of praise (Heb 2:12).
All believers are involved in the service of singing. Therefore, the Lord has given us the ability to sing. This is not primarily about the melody. The melody is the bearer of the words that express the feelings of the heart. A song is ideally suited to express the feelings of the whole, where each singer has his or her own feelings.
The meetings of the church are services “in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:23). All external things, that are important to Israel in the Old Testament worship, have no place in the meetings of the church. That is why the building in which the believers meet does not matter. Also there are no literal animal sacrifices, there is no priest’s clothing, there is no literal altar and so on.
The new invention for the transport of the ark in 1 Chronicles 13 is wrong because it is contrary to God’s precept. That does not mean, however, that all the new is wrong. This is the first time that the service of singing is mentioned here in front of the ark, in front of the symbol of the presence of the LORD. Moses is used to introduce the sacrifices; David is used to introduce the song. Singing is a form of sacrifice. We are encouraged to offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving (Psa 50:14a; Hos 14:2).
In 1Chr 15:17 three main singers are mentioned: Heman, Asaph and Ethan. Heman means ‘faithful’, Asaph means ‘one who gathers, Ethan means ‘constantly’. Ethan is the same as Jeduthun (1Chr 25:1), which means ‘a choir of praise’. In the sense of these names, we see indications of a continuous service of praise in the meetings of the church (Heb 13:15). The praise when the church comes together, should happen in faithfulness to God’s Word and will be unifying, so that there is a choir of praise to be heard.
The “relatives of the second rank” (1Chr 15:18) we perhaps may apply to young people who participate in the service. Although they are less experienced than the elderly, they can still make themselves heard. Under Moses only the Levies of thirty years and older were allowed to participate in the service of the tabernacle, but under David this is allowed from the age of twenty. This presupposes that those who – spiritually seen – are between twenty and thirty years old, form the group of ‘the second rank’, to grow after education and experience they have learned from the first rank. God expects in the church that young believers will also contribute to the service.
There are two types of tunes (1Chr 15:20-21). In 1Chr 15:20 “to alamoth”, an expression which is also in the heading of Psalm 46 (“set to Alamoth”, Psa 46:1). The word is related to the word ‘virgins’. Hence the idea that the tune is for soprano voices. It can also be translated with “high tuned”.
In 1Chr 15:21 is literally “to the sheminith”. This word is derived from a word which comes from the word for ‘eight’ – see the headings of Psalms 6 and 12 “upon an eight-string lyre“ (Psa 6:1; Psa 12:1). The word is used to indicate music in a lower octave and can therefore also be translated with “low tuned”. This also gives a contrast with 1Chr 15:20: high and low.
High tuned praise and low tuned praise arises in us when we look at the Lord Jesus as the One Who “ascended far above all the heavens” after He “had descended into the lower parts of the earth” (Eph 4:8-10). The same feelings of admiration arise with us when we see how on the one hand He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even to death on the cross, and on the other hand He was highly exalted by God (Phil 2:6-11).
It says of Chenaniah that he “was [in charge of] the singing” and that he “gave instruction in singing because he was skillful” (1Chr 15:22). He knows how to sing. This has nothing to do with what today is called the ‘worship leader’. In spiritual terms, every believer should be “skillful”. Every believer is expected to sing praises both with his spirit and with his mind (1Cor 14:15).
It is part of “worship in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:23-24), meaning that worship happens in a spiritual way, with the heart, but also with understanding of the truth of God’s Word about Christ and His work. Getting into ecstasy, losing control of one’s own will, is foolish and harmful for the Christian. It is reminiscent of the work of demons (1Cor 12:1-2).
Gatekeepers must guard for the honor of the ark. They stand in front of the entrance to the tent where the ark is located to ensure that no unauthorized persons enter and touch the ark. They also accompany the ark on its way to Jerusalem to ensure that no unholy hands touch the ark.
In the church every member is responsible for ensuring that nothing enters the church that affects the honor of the Lord Jesus. This concerns both the doctrine and the life of each member of the church. A special responsibility lies on the shoulders of brothers who through age and experience know God’s thoughts and function as elders in their contact with the Lord (Acts 20:28a).
The Ark Is Brought Up
Then “the ark of the covenant of the LORD” – twice it is expressly called so (1Chr 15:25-26) – is taken from the house of Obed-edom. The name of Obed-edom is mentioned several times in this chapter (1Chr 15:18; 21; 24; 25). The mention of his name reflects the great appreciation God has for him. His faithfulness is rewarded. He is faithful in his own house and now has a task regarding the house of God.
The ark is brought to Jerusalem by “all Israel” “with joy”, that is to say, under the expression of joy. The carrying of the ark is done by the Levites, but the whole people are involved. The fact that the ark now arrives in Jerusalem without accidents is because God helps the Levites to carry the ark. The carriers are in themselves no better than Uzza. That things are going well now is thanks to the help of God. It also applies to us that only with the help of God, the help of His Spirit, can a service be done for Him that is pleasing to Him (cf. 2Chr 18:31; Acts 26:22).
The awareness that God helps, leads them to bring sacrifices. The sacrifices consist of “seven bulls and seven rams”. The number seven is the number of perfection. A bull is pre-eminently the animal for the burnt offering. The ram is pre-eminently the animal for the sacrifice of consecration.
Here we see that the bringing up of the ark (in picture) is done on the basis of the Lord’s work, which He performed perfectly (seven) to God’s glory (burnt offering), in full dedication to Him (offering of consecration). The spiritual application is that we can only prepare a place for the Lord Jesus if we have understood something of His perfect work as a burnt offering and a sacrifice of ordination.
David does not wear his royal garment on this occasion, but both a Levite garment and a priestly garment (1Chr 15:27). This evokes the thought that here we have a picture of the Lord Jesus as the One Who is King and Priest in one Person.
What is happening here before our eyes is sung in Psalm 68:
“They have seen Your procession, O God,
The procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary.
The singers went on, the musicians after [them],
In the midst of the maidens beating tambourines” (Psa 68:24-25).
Michal Despises David
Michal despises David because she finds it below his dignity as king to behave like this – in her eyes frenzied. Unbelief understands nothing of the joy that the believing heart experiences in the things of the Lord. It is impossible for the carnal minded believer to share in the joy experienced by the spiritual minded believer in his fellowship with the Father and the Son.
The fact that she looks “out of the window” shows her limited insight. It presents the framework of her own imagination that is determined by origin and upbringing. She shows an arrogant complacency with which she pretends to judge David and his way of doing things.
It is a sad thing when in a marriage husband and wife do not correspond spiritually or even, as here, there is a great distance between them. This is not (in the picture) a marriage between a believer and an unbeliever. This is prohibited (2Cor 6:14a). It is a marriage between two people who confess to belong to God’s people.
It is vital for marriage that husband and wife agree in the purpose of their lives and that is to live to the honor of the Lord. If one of them thinks or starts thinking differently about this, it is sad. However, it does not mean that then the other person should not live for the Lord anymore. We can learn this here from David. He remains faithful to the Lord and is committed to His honor.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Chronicles 15". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19