Peril in Transporting the Ark
1 David consulted with the captains of the thousands and the hundreds, even with every leader. 2 David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is from the Lord our God, let us send word everywhere to our fellow countrymen who remain in all the land of Israel, and to the priests and Levites who are with them in their cities with pasture lands, so that they may meet with us; 3 and let us bring back the ark of our God to us, (a)for we did not seek it during the days of Saul.” 4 Then all the assembly agreed to do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.
5 So David gathered all Israel together, from the Shihor [watercourse] of Egypt, to the entrance of Hamath [in the north], to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim. 6 David and all Israel went up to Baalah, that is, to Kiriath-jearim, which belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God the Lord who sits enthroned above the cherubim, the ark which is called by His name. 7 They (b)carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio [his brother] drove the cart. 8 David and all Israel celebrated [joyfully] before God with all their might, with songs, lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets.
9 When they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzza put out his hand to hold and steady the ark, for the oxen [that were drawing the cart] (c)nearly overturned it. 10 The anger of the Lord burned against Uzza, and He struck him down because he touched the ark; and there he died before God.(A) 11 David became angry because of the Lord’s outburst against Uzza; so that place is called (d)Perez-uzza to this day. 12 David was afraid of God that day, and he said, “How can I bring the ark of God home with me?” 13 So David did not bring the ark with him to the City of David, but took it aside to the house of (e)Obed-edom the Gittite.(B) 14 So the ark of God remained with the (f)family of Obed-edom in his house three months; and the Lord (g)blessed the house of Obed-edom and all that he had.
a. 1 Chronicles 13:3: At one time Saul did consider pursuing the return of the ark (1 Sam 14:18). The account of the loss of the ark and its journey to Kiriath-jearim is recorded in 1 Sam 4-7:2.
b. 1 Chronicles 13:7: David’s failure to review and follow God’s instructions (Ex 25:12-15) regarding the transportation of the ark resulted in tragedy (v 10).
c. 1 Chronicles 13:9: Exactly what happened is unclear. However, the oxen might have begun to run toward the threshing floor, lured by the smell of grain left over from threshing. The fact that oxen threshing grain (trampling the stalks to separate the kernels) would naturally eat some of the grain accounts for the prohibition against muzzling the ox during threshing (Deut 25:4; cf 1 Tim 5:18). But in any case, Uzza violated the great sanctity of the ark by touching it. God could have intervened and prevented the ark from being dislodged, if He so desired.
d. 1 Chronicles 13:11: I.e. the outburst against Uzza.
e. 1 Chronicles 13:13: It was appropriate to leave the ark with Oded-edom because he was a Levite, but David’s decision may not have been in Obed-edom’s best interest. David probably wanted to see what would happen to him before he risked transporting the ark to the temple.
f. 1 Chronicles 13:14: Lit house.
g. 1 Chronicles 13:14: The ancient rabbis said that the blessing was children born into his family, and that it was a reward for the hospitality that Obed-edom showed to the ark. They also noted that this happy outcome was important to show that it was not the ark itself that caused the death of Uzza (v 10), but only the sin that he committed in touching it.