I Chronicles 15
by Pastor Mark Hudson
In the section covering the return of the Ark from the Philistines that covers chapter 13 to 16, we read in chapter 13, a rather inglorious beginning. To explain where the ark was and how this event in chapter 13 begins, here is a brief summary concerning the ark. The ark was captured by the Philistines (I Sam 4:11) but the ark only brought calamity to the house of Dagon and the people of Gath, so the Philistines moved the ark to Ekron (I Sam 5:10) where “the hand of God was very heavy there” (I Sam 5:11). The people of Israel, specifically the men of Beth-shemesh, showed no knowledge of the ark when the ark was returned to Israel and many died by looking inside the ark (I Sam 6:15-21).
Finally, the ark rested at the house of Abinadab (I Sam 7:1) for 20 years. After the debacle in I Chr. 13, the ark stayed for three months at the house of the Obed-edom. This is where David went to bring the ark back to Jerusalem. Chapter 13 describes how David started to move the ark and it was all the wrong way. Now in chapter 15, David does all the right things. It seems that David understood what he did in chapter 13 was wrong for a number of reasons. So chapter 15 is almost a complete reversal from the events in chapter 13.
David may have reviewed the Scripture pertaining to the ark and its movement. In chapter 13, the otherwise observant David seems to have acted in relationship to the ark like the Philistines. But in chapter 15, notice v. 2, “David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark . . . .” Then in verses 4-11, the sons of Aaron and Levites are named. Not only that but David tells them to consecrate themselves (v. 13) and makes an honest and frank admission regarding chapter 13’s events. “Because you did not carry if the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.” Where David was angry in 13:11 (notice the “broken out”), here David has come to terms that God was not angry at Uzzah. God was upset that David and God’s people did not consult the Scripture. For instance, read Numbers 4:15; Deut 10:8, 18:5 which tells God’s people they need the Levites, specifically the sons of Kohath, to carry the ark on the poles that were pushed through the rings of the ark.
Now, the music that David commanded in 15:16ff is not only robust but well planned out. The Levites were in charge of the music. As you may have picked up from reading the Old Testament, saying you are a Levite is like saying you are a nurse. You still do not know what a nurse actually does. Levites had so many different jobs. They could be a Bible teacher, a butcher of sacrificial animals, a musician, a person who carried things, etc. David loved to praise God and he loved to see others join him. He is ‘orchestrating’ this joyous occasion.
In 15:25, the author narrates the journey from the house of Obed-edom. The people of God are worshipping, sacrificing seven bulls and seven rams. The Levites and David usher the ark to Jerusalem with shouting, singing, and loud music. As verse 16 says, they were raising “sounds of joy” an apt phrase to describe worship.
This is a victory for David. The ark resided in a private residence for 20 years. First, the ark was at Abinadab’s for 20 years and then Obed-edom’s for three months. David made a mistake that resulted in the death of (assumably) a good man. But David recovered and did the right thing. We can learn valuable lessons from David. He committed serious sins that affected the lives of innocent people but he repented with honesty and a God-centered focus. After receiving forgiveness, David did the next thing.
It may not be easy for you to continue to serve God after a serious sin. You may think your abortion, your adultery, your lying, your whatever you did is almost unforgiveable. You are not the first to think that. But look at David or Saul who became Paul. They didn’t stop. They did the next thing. They kept on serving and loving God. And, this is crucial, they accepted God’s forgiveness. They trusted God in a deep and personal way that what He says about His forgiveness applies to them.
David made mistakes; a lot of them. Leaders do. They blunder. Leaders risk and win and sometimes they risk and lose. Leaders have good judgment until they don’t. David, like you and me, had blind spots, played favorites, and had sinful inclinations that tripped him (and us) over and over again. But David worked hard at knowing God. David was not a passive spectator when it came to God.
You may be headed for some unknown difficulties. To make it worse, you might cause your own troubles. What will you do? Wallow in your mistakes? Will you blame yourself? Will you conclude that you just can’t be forgiven on this one? Or, will you seek God, admit your mistakes and receive God’s forgiveness and then go deeper into God? Yes, you sinned, hurt yourself and others. But all sin is mainly treason against God. If He forgives, we must accept the work of Jesus Christ’s work on the cross and believe that even for us, there is full forgiveness and restoration. This forgiveness is and will be the wonder and reason for praise for all of eternity. Accept what Christ has done for you. Believe the gospel. Because the gospel is for you.
Lord, thank you for the example of David. While he was a big sinner who hurt many innocent people, David was a man after your own heart. We have the death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and reign of Christ which is no match for our rebellion. Point us to Christ and then to the next thing. In Christ’s name, Amen.