By Henry Mahan
1 Chronicles 13:1-14; 1 Chronicles 15:11-29
The ark of the covenant was an oblong chest of acacia wood, 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inches deep. It contained the tables of the law, the pot of manna, and Aaron's rod (Heb. 9:4). It was kept in the Holy of Holies, denoting the presence of God on the mercy seat, which was on the lid of the ark. During the days of Samuel, the superstitious Israelites took the ark from Shiloh into battle and lost it to the Philistines (1 Sam. 4:3-4; 10-11) . It finally was brought to Kirjath-Baal, a city in the tribe of Judah, where it remained for fifty years.
vv. 1-3. David wanted the ark back in Jerusalem. He felt that the ark was an assurance of the presence of the Lord among his people; and where the ark was, there was the glory of God. So he consulted with the leaders and the people. Strange that David did not seek the mind of the Lord in this matter!
vv. 4-6. This seemed like a good idea to all the people; so David gathered together 30,000 chosen men with instruments, singers, and all of Israel; and they journeyed to Baalah or Kirjath-Baal to bring up the ark.
vv. 7-8. This is an astonishing event. David was well versed in the law of God, as were the priests who were with him. They all knew that the ark was only to be carried by staves on the shoulders of the Levites. But David prepared a new cart with oxen, driven by Uzza and Ahio, to carry the ark of the covenant. After putting the ark on the cart, they began their journey to Jerusalem, rejoicing, singing, playing upon the instruments, confident that God was pleased with them.
vv. 9-10. When the procession came to the threshingfloor of Chidon, the oxen, pulling the cart, stumbled; and Uzza put his hand out to steady the ark; and God smote him dead because he put his hand on the ark.
vv. 11-14. The people were all stunned, and David was displeased because the Lord had smitten Uzza, but all of them (including David) realized, at last, that God was angry and displeased with the whole affair. So David put the ark in the house of Obededom, where it remained for three months.
What was wrong with this whole affair? Why was the Lord displeased with David and Israel? It would seem that David was doing the right thing in returning the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem and should be commended. David gives us the answer, three months later, when he determined again to bring up the ark (1 Chron. 15:12-13). Instead of going to the captains and the congregation (as he did the first time), David consulted with the priests of God! He said to them, 'You and your brethren sanctify yourselves that you may carry the ark into the place I have prepared for it. Because I ignored God's priests and put the ark on a cart, the Lord was angry with us. We sought him not after the due order.' In ignoring God's priests, it was as if David ignored the mediator. The High Priest (who offered the atonement) and the other priests (who offered the sacrifices and ministered about the tabernacle) are types and pictures of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. The priests were taken from among men and ordained for men in things pertaining to God (Heb. 5:1).
So Christ was of the seed of David, according to the flesh, to be our mediator.
2. The priests were chosen of God, and no man took this honor unto himself (Heb. 5:4). So Christ glorified not himself to be our priest; the Father ordained him.
3. The priests offered sacrifices and the High Priest offered the atonement once a year (Heb. 9:6-7). No man dared to assume this office nor this duty; those who did perished. Even King Uzziah was slain by the Lord when he attempted to offer a sacrifice without God's priest (2 Chron. 26:16-21).
Christ, our Lord, is our High Priest, our atonement, and our mediator. No man comes to the Father but by him (John 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5). Without question, this was David's error; and the Lord dealt severely with him and his friends. Knowing God's commandment in regard to the priests' carrying the ark (for that matter, moving it at all), David and the people sought to approach God, move and set up the ark, and establish worship of the Lord without God's priest. This is a serious error. It does not matter how sincere we may be in desiring to worship God, know God, serve God, or approach God. He is only worshipped, known, and approached in the Lord Jesus Christ! Cain built an altar and tried to worship God, but he ignored Christ and was rejected. King Saul ignored the prophet-priest and offered a sacrifice and was rejected of God.
vv. 14-15. Now David came to God the right way; the priests carried the ark.
vv. 25-26. God was pleased and helped the priests who bore the ark. They offered the blood sacrifice before the Lord. When David sought the first time to return the ark to Jerusalem, these two things were missing--the priests and the blood sacrifice (Heb. 10:19-22; Heb. 9:22).
vv. 27-29. We also have a humble King David, who took the place of a servant and danced before the ark borne on the shoulders of the priests (2 Sam.6:14-16, 20-22).