What did David learn from his first attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem? Listen to this lesson to understand that in order to please God things must be done God’s ways. Find out that after a man died after touching the ark, David took time to find out God’s precise directions which He had revealed. Hear the events surrounding the thrilling arrival of the ark in Jerusalem as it was honored as God’s dwelling place. This should make us ask ourselves whether we are submitting to the authority of God in our lives or whether we are trying to do things our way as we submit to our sin natures.
Dr. Dean mentioned a book entitled A Harmony of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles during this Bible study.
The Consequences of the Failure Moving the Ark
2 Samuel 6:12–23; 1 Chronicles 15:1–16:6
Samuel Lesson #159
January 8, 2019
“Father, we’re thankful we have this time together to come and study Your Word, to reflect upon what You have revealed to us, what You’ve preserved down through the centuries that we might be able to study these things, to learn about You, to learn about Your grace and Your goodness, learn what it means to worship You. Father, we pray that as we continue our study in 2 Samuel tonight that You will help us to understand the significance of these things and what they teach us about You, and we pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Tonight we are back in 2 Samuel. We have been on a topical study from within the framework of 2 Samuel 6. We started to develop what the Bible teaches about worship and that took us from lesson 127 through 158. That’s 31 hours of study on worship. So tonight, we’re back on lesson 159 picking up where we left off in lesson 126.
Open your Bibles with me to two passages. The first passage is in 2 Samuel 6, and the second passage is in 1 Chronicles 13, and if you have those two passages then we’ll go back and forth between them. They are parallel passages because the book of Chronicles—most of these where you have a 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings—they’re divided because they would not fit on one scroll. So, they were originally intended to be one book, so when you’re looking at these, 1 and 2 Samuel was written before the Babylonian captivity; it was probably written very early. Parts of it were probably written before David, and it was finished probably during the reign of Solomon.
When you get to Chronicles, Chronicles covers the same period, but it doesn’t deal with what’s going on apart from the house of David. It really focuses on the way God worked in the life of David, and because it’s written after the exile, it’s written after the Babylonian captivity, we don’t know exactly when it was written but probably sometime in the late 500s or early 400s BC in order to remind the Jews who they were and what God’s plan for them was, in terms of the Abrahamic Covenant, which is how 1 Chronicles will start off, then tracing the lineage down through Moses, and then down to David.
The lion’s share of 1 Chronicles focuses on the life of David, but it’s different. It picks different things to emphasize than what you find in in 2 Samuel. For example, in our study, when we look at 2 Samuel 6, it’s covered in 23 verses, but that same episode is covered in basically chapters 14, 15, mostly 15, 16 and is at least two or three chapters there in 2 Chronicles giving us a lot of other details. So we’ll be going back and forth, and that’s to see how those things fit together.
There was a book that came out, A Harmony of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, that originally was published in 1897 by William D. Crockett and has been in print ever since. It’s available electronically on Logos and maybe in some of the other programs as well because it’s in public domain. It’s a good thing to read if you’re reading through the Bible and you want to read through these things chronologically. As you see them come together, you have parallels and its interesting because you can see passages that are only in Samuel and passages that are only in Chronicles or passages only in Kings and only Chronicles, so it gives you a way of looking through that and that’s a good thing to look at to remind us of what we’re doing.
We’re in the middle of 2 Samuel 6, and tonight, we look at the last half of 2 Samuel 6. We studied up to the point that David had attempted to bring the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem. There was this episode where the oxen stumble and Uzzah, who is a Levitical priest, reaches out to prevent the ark from falling off of this cart they put it on, and because he touched the ark, he is instantly killed. And, a lot of people don’t understand what’s going on there. It shocks David.
We did a lesson in a previous lesson, Samuel Lesson 126 [The Holy God’s Ark; Fear of God], on the fear the Lord. It struck David with the fear of the Lord, realizing how serious this was. So, the ark was then stored in the home of a man named Obed-Edom who is referred to as a Gittite, which means he is from Gath, the same place Goliath is from. But what’s interesting is he’s listed several times in the list of the Levitical singers and officials that oversaw the worship surrounding the ark following this episode.
We’re not sure of a lot of things about Obed-Edom, but he becomes a significant person. God blesses his house because the ark is there. We’ll get into those particular details, but I wanted to take more time looking at these chapters and a little bit of 1 Chronicles 13, 14, and 15 because of the extra detail that is provided for us and because it’s probably been a while since you have spent much time going through these chapters in 1 Chronicles.
Just to remind us of what’s happening in 2 Samuel, I pointed out that there are basically three divisions to 2 Samuel: the first is not really the first 10 chapters. Chapter 1 really deals more with what’s going on at the end of 1 Samuel, but in 2 Samuel 2–10, God blesses David, and David unites and expands the kingdom.
Then we see in the next section, 2 Samuel 11–20, that God will discipline David for his sins, and David reaps the consequences. But then, because David turns back to God, God transforms the cursing into blessing.
What’s important to understand here—and I’m still working through a lot of these issues—Crockett in his harmony puts all of the wars with the Philistines, the Ammonites, the Moabites, everybody else into the time period before the episode of 2 Samuel 6 and 2 Samuel 7. He puts that chronologically near the end of David’s reign. There’s a number of others who do that as well, and it’s not due to any liberal bias or anything like that. Basically, it’s because at the beginning of 2 Samuel 7, when God is going to give to David the covenant with David, it says that “when David had found rest from all his enemies,” well those battles aren’t covered in 1 Chronicles until after the giving of the covenant, but he doesn’t get that rest from all of his enemies until the end of his reign.
We’ll get into that more when I get back and into those details, but it seems that these events are more thematically organized than they are chronologically organized. That is something that is difficult for us as descendants of Western Europeans. Everything has to be seen in order. But you know better than that.
How many times have you turned on some movie or some TV show, and it starts off with the scene and then it stops the action at a crucial point, and you see something on the screen that says now 48 hours earlier, or a week earlier or something like that. And so, it changes your temporal reference.
Well, it’s that kind of a thing that’s going on here, the writer is focusing on talking about getting us to understand certain things about God’s grace and about what He has done for David and despite all of David’s sins, so we’ll be looking at that in more detail as we go forward.
The third division has to do with six different events that are described in 2 Samuel 21–24 that give evidence of the significance in the greatness of God’s covenant with David.
In the section we’re looking at, we see the beginning of David’s kingdom in chapters 2, 3, and 4, then God gives David control over Jerusalem. We studied that in chapter 5, and now God is being enthroned in Jerusalem because the Scriptures several times talk about God’s throne being above the cherubim—the cherubs that are on the ark of the covenant—and so God is enthroned in Jerusalem. And this is where we ran into problems.
As we got into 2 Samuel 6:1–2, “Again, David gathered all the choice men of Israel, thirty thousand … and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name,—Hashem—the very name of Yahweh Sabaoth—that means the Lord of the armies—who is enthroned above the cherubim.” That’s the NASB 95 translation. Now think about that. Let’s just simply summarize: David has 30,000 men; he’s going to go to Baale-judah, and he’s going to get the ark and bring it back to Jerusalem. We’re told a lot more about this when we get into 1 Chronicles, which is why I wanted to do that.
Now here is a map of the central part of Israel. This is where Jebus is located. It was the Jebusites that David defeated—that’s the ancient name, the Canaanite name, for Jerusalem and from there to Kiriath-jearim is about 15 miles. For those of you have been to Israel with me, and I know that other tour groups do this as well, there are a couple of really nice, decent Arab restaurants in a place called Abu Gosh, which is basically the Arab village that’s right there by Kiriath-jearim, and it takes about 20 minutes from the hotel in Jerusalem to get there, and then we have our last meal before we go to the airport. This gives you a little bit of a frame of reference.
Now let me give you little bit of an overview of Chronicles. 1 and 2 Chronicles are really designed to teach the people about the glories of God’s grace in the Davidic dynasty, why David is so important, and to encourage them to finish building the temple. That’s why there’s so much in 1 Chronicles about the ark of the covenant and about the temple. So, the first nine of those chapters—I’m not going to ask for a show of hands—are the chapters that I know you skip. You skip those when you’re reading through your Bible every year because they’re genealogies. And it starts with Abraham and goes all the way to David, and it lists all the priests and all the descendants of the different sons of Aaron.
Most people start getting glazed eyes and crossed eyes because they don’t know who any of those people are, and they don’t understand why that’s there. It’s there to trace the lineage. There’s a promise of the Seed of the woman that will defeat the seed of the serpent in Genesis 3:15, and the genealogies trace the lineage from Adam to Noah in Genesis 5.
And then when you get into Genesis 10, what happens to the sons of Noah. So, you have the genealogy of Shem, Ham, and Japheth and then in Genesis 11, it focuses more on the genealogy of Ham, specifically that line that ends up building the tower of Babel.
Then, out of that line—because Abraham’s family came from Ur of the Chaldees, which is south of where Babylon was in the plain of Shinar—you see God beginning to hone in on the seed, and that he’s going to call out Abraham. And it’s through the seed of Abraham that the promise will come. It’s from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, and then you have the other tribes of Jacob, or Israel as he is renamed by God.
And then you have that lineage, and you have the Levitical lineage that is traced down from one of the sons of Levi who is the progenitor of the tribe of priests. In his line you have Moses and Aaron. They are both from the tribe of Levi. Then it’s traced further down, and you end up taking it all the way down to the high priest, Eli, at the time of Samuel. We studied about him at the first part of 1 Samuel. There’s this tracing of the line, so we know that David is in the line of Judah. God had promised and prophesied that the Messiah would come, the future King would come, through Judah, one of the 12 tribes. So, those first nine chapters trace that for us.
It is basically the preface that’s answering the question, why are we going to spend from 1 Chronicles 9:35–29:30, basically 20 chapters, talking about David? So, that’s why, because he’s in that line of Judah, the line of the of the future King. When we look at that, the major section—1 Chronicles 9:35–29:30 focuses on David—it’s all about David, and there are seven sections that can be subdivided here.
The first is that God elevates David to be king of Israel, and it’s really short. We went through a lot related to the end of Saul, the end of Saul’s dynasty, God anointing David in 1 Samuel 7:16, and we go through that, and it summarizes all of that in about 12 or 15 verses.
Then, the second thing is that we see God fulfilling His promise to make David the king of Israel, and this is described in 1 Chronicles 11:1–20. In the first section, it’s going to bring to a close that section in 1 Chronicles 9:35–10:14 and ends with the death of Saul. The purpose of that section is something very important in light of what happens in both of these books. You have God telling the story of the end of Saul’s dynasty and then He’s going to bring David forward. And it looks like Saul’s dynasty is ended.
We’re going to get into some more things with the shenanigans that are going on behind-the-scenes with Saul’s family and trying to regain the throne—we’ve seen a little bit of it so far. But basically, there is still the possibility that one of Saul’s descendants is going to get on the throne. Why is that? Because David is still married to Michal, who is Saul’s daughter.
That’s one of the many things that comes out in this episode, because the last line in 2 Samuel 6 is that because she despises him, David puts her away, and she never has any children. That sets the stage for David having children, and it’s through his line, not Saul’s line that the Seed of the woman, the descendant of Judah, will come. So, it all connects together.
God is now going to fulfill his promise to make David the king of Israel, and this is summarized very, very briefly. There’s a lot more to it. There are about five chapters to it in 2 Samuel, but this is just a brief summary. It doesn’t even mention the seven years that he’s king in Hebron. It just starts off with all the heads of all the tribes come to Hebron to make him king over all of Israel. Then he is anointed king of Israel and unites the tribes. Tthat’s pretty much what happens in 1 Chronicles 11 and the first part of chapter 12.
Then, the third section is the second longest section in Chronicles. It’s about how God allows David to bring the ark back to Jerusalem. Notice it goes from 1 Chronicles 13 through 16. So, you have four chapters just on David bringing the ark into Jerusalem as opposed to one chapter in 2 Samuel. What do you think that’s all about? That’s really important.
Remember what I told you the purpose for Chronicles is, it’s to motivate the people in rebuilding the temple, and why it’s important to rebuild the temple and how that’s related to the Davidic Covenant. So, when you read through 1 Chronicles, you’re going to have four chapters here to talk about the movement of the ark to Jerusalem and then there’s going to be a shift in action, and then later in the Book, the longest section in the Book is all about what God revealed to David about building that the temple. That’s the longest section in the Book; that comes up in 1 Chronicles 21–29.
That gives us nine chapters related to that. So, four chapters here related to the ark and nine chapters are related to the temple. You get the point that it’s all about the worship of God and restoring temple worship after the exile.
In 1 Chronicles 17, God makes a covenant with David comparable to 2 Samuel 7, and then the next part, the fifth part is, God gives David victory over his enemies. So, it’s following the same literary order, but again, it’s not chronological.
I’ve been looking at reading through material on this, and my eyes were starting to glaze over as I was trying to make sense of this. Not everyone agrees on this, so I’m going to try to figure out what the arguments are for each of these different positions.
God will give David victory over his enemies in just short of three chapters, 1 Chronicles 18:1–20:8.
Then in the sixth part, God reveals to David His plans for the temple and temple worship. So, when David is organizing the choirs and the orchestra and the music and the musical guilds and the training sessions and all of this, this isn’t something that David is developing on his own. In this chapter again and again, he refers to the fact that God revealed this to him in order to tell Solomon. So, David structures these things and he structures the worship of Israel on the basis of divine revelation. The only thing that disappointed him is that God is not going to allow David to build the temple. We’ll get into that when we get into chapter 7.
Then, the last part of 1 Chronicles 29 recounts the death of David, so that gives us most of what goes on in 1 Chronicles.
What we see when we drill down in the central section from 1 Chronicles 13–15 based on a three-part analysis of Kevin Zuber in the Moody Bible Commentary. He analyzes it this way: First David moves the ark—that’s part one—and runs into a problem because of the death of Uzzah.
Then in 1 Chronicles 14:1–17, we have the episode of David defeating the Philistines. I know this is where it gets confusing because if you’re reading through this and you’re thinking about the chronology, that’s three months that the ark is at the home of Obed-Edom. Is the whole episode of David defeating the Philistines taking place within that three-month period? It doesn’t work out that way. So, the writer is choosing to put that there for a reason.
Then we’re going to get to the third part, which is David moves the ark the second time—this time he gets it right—and that’s in 1 Chronicles 15–16. So basically, what the writer is doing is he’s glorifying David, he’s glorifying the house of David; it’s all about Israel coming back together and recovering the plan of God for Israel as stated in the Abrahamic Covenant and then the Davidic Covenant.
So, when we come to David bringing the ark and we’re going to review that, here David brings the ark in the first time, and we read in 1 Chronicles 13:8, and it’s pretty close to what we find in 2 Samuel 6, “Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets.” So, you see singing, you see an orchestra there, but what you don’t see if you’re careful, is that the organization of the singers and the musicians and their training and their structure doesn’t happen until 1 Chronicles 15.
It doesn’t happen until David gets slapped down for not doing it right. So, this gives us a picture that when he starts to bring the ark in, he understands there should be a certain amount of pomp and circumstance, and they’re going to come together, and they’re going to sing, and there’s going to be music, but he doesn’t get it right.
Nothing that they’re doing is really right; it isn’t thought through biblically. So, he’s doing the right thing but a wrong way, which is sort of what I’ve been trying to teach about worship is that if you look at the modern views on worship, they’re trying to do a right thing, which is to worship God, but they’re doing it a wrong way. They’re not thinking very deeply or profoundly about music or about song or about all of the other components of a worship service so that everything is done in a way that brings honor and glory to God. What happened with David is that they got together to bring the ark into Jerusalem, and they built a new cart and that is drawn by a team of oxen, and it’s surrounded by some priests because Uzzah is a priest, but it’s not done exactly the way God said to do it.
We see the instructions given in the Book of Numbers and in the Book of Exodus. When they traveled, Numbers 4:5–6 says, “When the camp sets out, Aaron and his sons shall go in—that is into the temple, the mishkan the holy place—and they shall take down the veil of the screen and cover the ark of the testimony with it.” They go into the holy place, and they take down the veil of the screen and then as they take the veil down, they walk forward and put the veil over the ark, and they’re not looking at the ark. So they go in and they cover the ark, and then [Numbers 4:6] “they shall lay a covering of porpoise skin on it”—which is part of the covering of the of the mishkan, part of the roof, and they put that over it and then the other cloth that’s part of the roof and this covers the ark. So, it was not something that people could gaze at and look at; it was kept covered.
Furthermore, there were rings on the four corners of the ark and poles were to be inserted into those rings and were not supposed to be removed so that it would be carried by those poles.
The only ones that were authorized to carry it by the poles were the Levites. Deuteronomy 10:8 and Numbers 7:9. [Deuteronomy 10:8] “At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord.” So only Levites could carry it. Numbers 7:9 tells us that they were to carry the ark on their shoulders, so there is a proper procedure. They don’t just pick it up and carry it low, but they picked it up and they hoisted up on their shoulders so that God is high, and everyone can see where the ark is—even though it’s covered—they can see where the ark is and that God is leading them forward.
In 1 Samuel 7:1, we learned that after the travels—the ark’s captured earlier and taken to the Philistine’s city where they put it before the idol Dagon and eventually, it goes around to the different cities of Gaza, Gath, and some of the others, and the people don’t want it because there’s disease and other things that are accompanying it—and so it’s taken to Kiriath-jearim, and it’s left.
The Philistines had put it on a cart that was drawn by oxen. That’s not how it was described to be carried; that’s how the pagans treated God. So, this ark comes, the men of Kiriath-jearim see it, they take it off of the cart, they use the cart for wood to have a sacrifice, to kill the oxen and have an offering there. But then they all start looking into the ark, and so they’re struck dead because of the lack of respect for God. So, eventually is taken “into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and his son Eleazer”—they’re priests, they’re Levites—is given the responsibility. He is consecrated or sanctified to keep the ark of the Lord. And now you have Levites watching over it. So at this time David is going to go and retrieve this ark from Kiriath-jearim.
In 1 Chronicles 13:3, we read him saying, “ ‘and let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we have not inquired at it since the days of Saul.’ ” That tells us that there has been a long time when God has been ignored.
What’s interesting when you look at 2 Samuel 6, and you look at 1 Chronicles 13, the one phrase stands out that’s used again and again and it has to do with the ark. In 2 Samuel 6, the phrase, “ark of God” or “ark of the Lord” and simply “ark” one time, are mentioned 15 times in those 23 verses. In 2 Samuel 6, in 1 Chronicles 13, it’s mentioned eight times: You have the phrase “the ark of our God,” “the ark of God,” “the ark of God the Lord,” and then one time simply “the ark.” That tells you when you have a chapter where you have any phrase or name or something like that mentioned so many times, that’s the focal point of the chapter. So, it’s very important to understand what God is saying about the ark. This is His dwelling place. And it has to be handled precisely, that if you don’t—God dealt with them in grace, but they followed pagan practices.
This is so often what happens. It’s happened every century down through the Church Age where Christians adopt pagan practices to worship God. And it’s always a failure, always leads to a lot of problems, and that’s what the Jews did. We’re going to bring the ark—the first time David’s bringing the ark up—we’re going to do it like the pagans did it. We build a new cart, we put a couple of oxen on it, and we’re going to transport the ark according to the way the Philistines did it, not according to the way God revealed to Moses. That creates a problem.
The ark is brought up, 1 Chronicles 13:4, “Then all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of the all people.” They haven’t really inquired of the Lord yet. They’re doing the right thing but the wrong way. They’re like a lot of Christians; they give lip service to the Bible. They give lip service to going to church. They may be actively involved in church, but they haven’t submitted to the authority of the Scripture and to the authority of God.
Every one of us has a basic problem in our life: Are we going to submit to the authority of the Scripture, which is the authority of God, or are we going to submit to the authority of our sin nature?
Many times, I’ve talked about empiricism, rationalism, and mysticism, but what lies behind those three independent ways of coming to knowledge is just the sin nature. And that’s always the issue, and it’s true for every single person here. It’s true for me. It’s true for every Christian. It’s a daily battle. It’s an hourly battle. It’s a minute-by-minute battle. Are you going to submit to the authority of Scripture, or are you going to submit to the authority of your sin nature?
There are way too many Christians who spend the whole time dressing up their sin nature—it’s about like putting lipstick on a pig to try to make it look good, and it doesn’t. You can put lipstick on the carcass of a dead rotting pig, and it still doesn’t make it attractive, but that’s basically what your sin nature is, so that’s what they’ve done. They’re trying to do a right thing the wrong way according to their own sin nature in their own way of doing things.
Then in 1 Chronicles 13:5, we read: “So David gathered all Israel together from Shihor in Egypt to as far as the entrance of Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-Jearim.” So, he wants a big crowd he’s trying to get everyone there. He understands the centrality of the ark, and its importance to the worship of the nation and the unity of the nation. He gathers everybody together, [1 Chronicles 13:6], “And David and all Israel go up to Baalah, to Kiriath-Jearim which belonged to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God the Lord, who dwells between the cherubim, where His name is proclaimed.”
This is the same thing that’s summarized in 2 Samuel 6:3, “So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of the Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart.” This is the problem—a new cart is what man has built. When you’re carrying the ark on the shoulders of the priests who have been sanctified by God, you’re doing it God’s way. So, you’re either doing it by man’s way and in man’s efforts, and in man’s works, or you’re doing it God’s way.
So, after the ox stumbles, Uzzah tries to stabilize God. You don’t need to stabilize God, but the whole situation has been wrong. But God didn’t lower the boom when they used a cart instead of carrying it on their shoulders. He’s not lowering the boom because they haven’t covered the ark. He’s allowed a lot of wiggle room in terms of their disobedience, but when it gets to the point where somebody is touching the ark, that’s it; it’s time for divine discipline, and that’s why Uzzah dies at that particular point. God struck him there for his error, and he died there by the ark of God.
Then [2 Samuel 6:8], “And David became angry because of the Lord’s outbreak against Uzzah; and he called the name of the place Perez Uzzah—or the outbreak of God against Uzzah—to this day.”
So, [2 Samuel 6:11] “the ark then goes to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite, for three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all of his household.”
1 Chronicles 13:13 says basically the same thing that, “David would not move the ark with him into the City of David, but took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.”
What David has learned here is that there are right and wrong ways to worship God. We have to do what God says to do.
In the New Testament, there aren’t as strict guidelines on worship as there are in the Old Testament. And as I pointed out in our conclusion to the worship series last week, it doesn’t mean that we’re free to just do whatever we want to do on the basis of whatever creativity we have—to do something and claim that it honors God, and it’s the worship of God. It has to be consistent with all of this teaching from the Old Testament.
That doesn’t mean we do it exactly the same way, but that that sets certain standards and it set certain principles that are in place and that the worshiper needs to be sanctified before coming into the presence of God, that there needs to be a sacrifice in the Church Age—the sacrifices have been completed. It’s Christ’s work on the Cross on Golgotha, that the people come together for the proclamation of God’s Word, which is that the centerpiece of our worship and that we obey Him. It involves praise, and involves thanksgiving, and there are patterns of praise and thanksgiving given to us in the 150 Psalms that are recorded in the Scripture to give us an idea of what the music or the words, at least, should be like and how it should develop thought and thinking.
So, David learned something fundamental here—that he can’t impose his ideas, his opinions, his values, on the worship of God. We also see as an important principle that God is more interested in blessing than judgment. When the ark is moved to the house of Obed-Edom, God blesses the house of Obed-Edom. It’s emphasized that he’s a Gittite, and so he could have been a Levite who grew up in Gath, because later he is a part of the Levitical priests, the team surrounding the ark, and so that sounds very much like he’s a Levite. But God is going to bless him.
The harsh judgment against Uzzah is not something that primarily characterizes God. God’s not out there trying to hammer everybody who does something wrong. He’s not pictured here as a God who is primarily interested in judgment. He’s a God who is primarily interested in grace and blessing, but He’s only going to be gracious so far. When the righteousness of God is violated, eventually the justice of God has to apply the righteous standard of God to the situation. So, God is slow to anger, and He’s quick to forgive, but He is not going to be permissive, as it were.
Now at this point we switch back—I’m going to switch back and forth a little bit—and we’ll look at 2 Samuel 6:12–13. This is the parallel, and in them we read, “Now it was told King David, saying, ‘The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.’ So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with gladness.”
Notice how quickly there’s a summary there. It doesn’t go into all the details that we get in 1 Chronicles 14–15. It’s just a quick summary of what David sees is that the ark is not something to be afraid of, but that God is a God who has richly blessed Obed-Edom, and God will still bless Israel, but He has to be obeyed.
So, that causes David to go back to look at the Law and determine exactly how the ark was supposed to be carried, and this is then summarized in 2 Samuel 6:13: “And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the Lord—notice it’s people carrying it, it’s the Levites carrying the ark—had gone six paces that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep.” So, there’s a constant sacrifice to God along the way.
In 1 Chronicles 15:3, we read: “And David gathered all Israel together at Jerusalem …” Now this is a separate gathering than the one that had occurred three months earlier and it’s all of Israel. But notice what happens as we get into 1 Chronicles 15, there is something significantly different, and that is the details that were given about the organization and the training that goes on for those who are involved with the worship of the ark.
In 1 Chronicles 15:3; he gathered all Israel together in Jerusalem—“to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it.” Then, if you look at 1 Chronicles 15:3–10—it is another one of the sections you’re tempted to skip over—David assembles the children of Aaron and the Levites. So, what he’s doing is he’s bringing all of the clans together and it lists them all according to their clan, and he’s going to organize them. So, now the worship of God is going to be structured. Paul says this in 1 Corinthians14, that God is not a God of disorder. He is a God of structure. Just look at Creation. It’s deeply structured and profoundly organized.
So, all of the Levites are brought together in terms of their clans and in 1 Chronicles 15:12, “He said to them, ‘You are the heads of the father’s houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves”—before you’re going to serve, you have to be sanctified again and again. We see the same principle of being ritually cleansed and sanctified in order to serve the Lord. In 1 Chronicles 15:13, he says, “ ‘For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.’ ”
1 Chronicles 15:14–15, “So the priests and Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.”
Then, when we get to 1 Chronicles 15:16, “Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy.” At this point what he’s doing is he’s going to organize the choirs and the orchestras. It’s interesting what happens in this section in terms of the words that are used to organize themselves. They’re going to appoint their brethren, some to be singers, some to play the instruments; they’re organized, and they’re going to be trained.
This is another key point that is brought out here as he picks—and you notice these names Heman and Asaph, and Ethan the son Kushaiah—these names show up on a few of the psalms. So, you know these were some of the greatest musicians that Israel had at the time of David, and they become the heads of these clans of musicians and the schools of training.
One of the things that we see as we look at the language that’s used here and some of the words, is that it emphasizes an intense training, discipline, and organization. That’s what the terms mean. So, what we see here is that David is functioning as a second Moses, and the Davidic dynasty is understood now to be the patron, the one that oversees the worship of God in the in the temple. That means more than simply maintaining the forms and ceremonies on an external level, but to bring it down to where the people are responding from their soul to what God has done for them. So, it’s not just a matter of formalism.
Then, we get down to 2 Samuel 6:14 and what happens when they bring the ark in, “Then David dances before the Lord with all his might.” Now when we read that, what vision do you have in your head? Depending on your background, you can picture that dancing a lot of different ways.
But in 2 Samuel, we don’t have the structure of the context around it that we have in Chronicles. In Chronicles, we see all of this organization, we see the stratification of the leadership, we see teachers, we see these various schools that are developed. It’s highly structured. This is not then speaking about David giving some sort of impromptu, unstructured dance. He’s not just jumping around in front of the ark. That doesn’t fit with anything that’s going on in this scenario, which is very well-regulated and very well-structured and organized.
There are a lot of ways that David could dance when it talks about, he dances “with all his might.” That doesn’t mean he just throwing a lot of energy into it; it has to do with his purpose, his intent, his understanding and his preplanning for exactly what he is going to do. It maybe even involved rehearsal of how he is going to dance. You can think of a lot of different ways that we express dance in the history of our culture. You can think of some incredible ballets; you can think of the dance of other people, that is the structure and form. It takes a lot of different discipline and a lot of effort to make it look good.
The other night, I was awake in the night or early in the morning or whatever 3 o’clock is, and I was channel surfing and ran across a film with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Just watching them move, you know this is not something they just said, oh let’s go do this. There were hours and hours and hours of rehearsal getting every movement right and doing it at the right time perfectly in time with the music, facing the camera in the correct direction and all the other things that were involved.
So, when we read this quick summary, don’t get the idea that this is just some spontaneous emotional response of David. It doesn’t fit the structure of all of the organization that is going on here.
We look back at 1 Chronicles 15:25, “So David, the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands”—so everything is broken down into thousands and hundreds. These are what we would call your field-grade officers, your upper-level officers, and they are the ones who are closest to and surrounding the ark of the covenant as David brings it up from the house of Obed-Edom.
Then we read in 1 Chronicles 15:26, “And so it was, when God helped the Levites.” Now there’s that word ezer that we studied before. It’s primarily used of God in the Scripture; God is an ezer to people. This is not a lowly, subservient position that you should look down upon.
The reason I say that is because in Genesis 2, God says that the woman was created to be an ezer for the man. The modern, feminist movement since the 19th century, sees the Bible and Christianity and Judaism as degrading to women because she has this subordinate role. Well, you made a theological statement that is blasphemous there because if you’re defining the role of an ezer as someone who is of second-rate importance, then that’s what you’re saying about God. It’s a pretty significant thing for somebody to be called an ezer. That’s what God is, so that’s a very godly role. So, this is what we see here, God is strengthening and helping the Levites, [1 Chronicles 15:26] “… who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, that they offered seven bulls and seven rams.”
Then we see a description of David. [1 Chronicles 15:27] He “was clothed with a robe of fine linen—we learn in Samuel that it’s a linen ephod— as were all the Levites, who bore the ark”—so there are some who were carrying the ark—the singers, and Chenaniah the music master with the singers.” So, he is exceptionally well-trained and talented, and he is over the singers.
Then, we get to at the end of the episode in 1 Chronicles 16:7, David is going to bring a psalm. And when he brings this psalm in 1 Chronicles 16:7, it is actually composed of parts of several other psalms—Psalm 105, Psalm 106, and another one—and it’s very highly structured.
I kind of jumped ahead there, so back to 1 Chronicles 16:2: “And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord.” Now, we studied the offerings when we were going through worship; the first thing that would happen is that you would bring a sin, trespass, or what might be referred to as a reparation offering. This is a cleansing offering. That’s the first offering. Now you’ve been cleansed of sin.
The second thing that you would offer, the second offering you would give, is a whole burnt offering. You’d bring a bullock, or a sheep, or goat. If you were poor, you brought a bird. But if you are bringing a bull, this is very expensive, and everything is burned up and the smoke goes to God. It’s called an ’olah, which in Hebrew means “to go up.” Everything ascends to God, and it is a picture that after you confess sin and have been cleansed, you’re making a statement that you are giving everything in your life to God, everything is committed to Him.
And after that, then you bring the peace offering; it was also called a fellowship offering because there’s now fellowship between you and God. So, when you bring the meal and the grain and you have the fellowship offering, and you have another offering where the meat is cooked; now, you’re going to have a meal.
So, all of the food is then passed out to those who are there; it’s given to the priests and it’s given to the crowd that’s there. And this is one reason you didn’t have a lot of beggars in Jerusalem. The poor would be taken care of by the food that was left over from these peace offerings.
In 2 Samuel 6:17, we read, “So they brought the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place in the midst of the tabernacle—that is the tent—that David had erected for it. Then David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.” When he finished, then it pretty much repeats what’s in 1 Chronicles, but it gives the result. Afterward, he does what I just talked about; he’s given the peace offering, and so now he shares from the bounty of the food.
2 Samuel 6:19: “Then he distributed among all the people, among the whole multitude of Israel, both the women and the men, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins. So all the people departed, everyone to his house.”
1 Chronicles 16:3 repeats that, and so then he’s going to organize—it talks about this organization of the Levites. He appointed some to minister, that is, they served before the ark of the Lord to commemorate, which means “to remember.” These three phrases are used here: to commemorate, to thank, and to praise. Those represent three types of psalms. Those that are remembering what God has done in the past in terms of descriptive praise, and then to thank God in terms of thank offerings, and to praise Him—declarative praises.
And then there are those who will have specific roles like Benaiah and Jahaziel; they regularly blew trumpets before the ark of the Lord. So, as we look at this, we see all of these different aspects that are developed and the training that is involved in in the musicians, that these were schools of musicians.
One of the terms that is used to describe them is translated as “instructors,” but the idea in the Hebrew is of someone who exercises rigorous discipline on students. So, it’s not just musicians that can come and play whatever God has put on their heart. It’s well-planned; it’s rehearsed; there’s training, and there’s discipline. I mean, this is the Juilliard School of musicians for that generation. These were all outstanding musicians because that’s what would be required at the temple where God Himself dwelt.
Now we come to the sort of dark side of this. As David has danced before the Lord, we read that there’s one person who’s not too happy about this, and this is his wife Michal, who is the daughter of Saul. In 2 Samuel 6:16, we read, “Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.” She detested him. She has absolutely no respect whatsoever for him, and she’s just going to ridicule him from this point on.
Then, when David, a few verses later, comes to bless his household, she comes out, and she just mocks him, and she’s sarcastic, and she’s rude, and she just mockingly says, [2 Samuel 6:20] “How glorious was the king of Israel today,”—you’re out there dancing around, and doing all that, and it’s all for your own attention; it’s not for God. And she runs him down in front of everybody, and David turns to her and says: [2 Samuel 6:21], “ ‘It was before the Lord,—it was between myself and your father—who chose me instead of your father.’ ” In other words, you’re just jealous because God disciplined your father, and your dynasty is ended, and God appointed me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. [2 Samuel 6:21] “ ‘Therefore, I will play music before the Lord.’ ”
[2 Samuel 6:22] “ ‘And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight.’ ” It’s not that he was doing something that was coarse; he was doing something that didn’t, in the mind of the pagan culture, befit the role of a king or president or someone. He humbled himself before God, and that is why she was ridiculing him.
At the end of David’s psalm, 1 Chronicles16:34–36, this is what we read: “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” And it states “Save us, [hosheannu]—in the Hebrew there is hosheannu and how does that come over in English? Hosanna—that’s what they said when Jesus comes into Jerusalem before the crucifixion; they are singing hosanna. It’s the Hebrew hosheannu, which means “save us”,—O God of our salvation; Gather us together and deliver us from the Gentiles, to give thanks to your holy name, to triumph in your praise. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting! And all the people said, ‘Amen!’ and praised the Lord.”
And what happens? The epilogue: [2 Samuel 6:23] “Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.” That’s what ends the dynasty of Saul. There’s no heir. She has no children. There’s no one to follow Saul, and that’s the thematic link to going into the Davidic Covenant where God is going to promise an eternal dynasty and eternal seed to David. So, when we come back next time, that’s where we’ll start, where God comes to David.
Notice in 2 Samuel 7:1: “Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies all around.” That’s why it looks like this is taken out of chronological order because he still has to defeat the Philistines, the Ammonites, the Moabites, and all of the other enemies of Israel. Let’s close in prayer.
“Father, thank You for this time we had to study this evening, to think our way through this. To realize how profound and detailed Your Word is and how detailed and structured the worship was, and that was a result not of David just coming up with these ideas on his own, but because You revealed to him the kind of order and organization that was necessary to worship You in the temple. All of this that we’re reading in Chronicles leads to that worship that will be established once the temple is built.
“We pray that we would think profoundly about our own worship, that it is structured in a way that honors and glorifies You for all of our lives are to be in worship to You. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”