1 Chronicles 15 Bible Commentary

John Darby’s Synopsis

(Read all of 1 Chronicles 15)
A place prepared for the ark

He makes himself houses in Jerusalem, and prepares a place for the ark of God, pitching a tent for it.

Warned by the calamity [1] which his neglect had brought upon Uzza, the first time he undertook to bring back the ark, David now gathers, not only all Israel together, but also the Levites and the children of Aaron. This gives occasion to the setting forth of the whole order of Levitical service as it had been appointed by David, and of the relation between the priesthood and royalty; that is, that the former is subordinated to the latter, the king being Jehovah's anointed, although the service of the sanctuary belonged to the priesthood.

The ark brought with joy and song to Zion

As the head, David orders everything and appoints psalmody for the service of God. Then by the help of God, the ark is brought from the house of Obed-edom into the tent prepared for it in Zion, with offerings to God who helped the Levites by His power, and with joy and songs of triumph. David himself, clothed with a robe of fine linen and an ephod, dances and plays before the ark of Jehovah who was going up to His place in Zion. This action—unintelligible to the unbelieving Michal, to whom the king's behaviour was therefore unintelligible also—was of very great importance. It identified kingly power in Zion (that is to say, the kingly power of Christ, as deliverer in grace) with the token of Jehovah's covenant with Israel—a token established there in grace, when Israel had already failed entirely under the law, and even after their rejection of God as their King.

The altar and the ark

The Aaronic priesthood was not able to maintain the people's relationship with their God, and consequently the outward order had completely failed. The altar at which the priests were to sacrifice was elsewhere (at Gibeon), and not before the tent which contained the ark. And the ark, which was the sign of the covenant and of the throne of Jehovah, was at a distance from the altar at which the priests ministered.

Jehovah's covenant connected with kingly power

The covenant of Jehovah is connected with the kingly power, and that in Zion—the place which He had chosen for His rest. David himself assumes somewhat of the Melchisedec character, but only in testimony and by anticipation (chap. 16: 1-3). In these verses the priests do not appear.

In order to apprehend more clearly the import of the removal of the ark to Zion, it will be well to consider Psalm 78: 60-72 and Psalm 132, and to compare verse 8 of the latter with what Moses said during Israel's journey in the wilderness (Num. 10: 35, 36). It is interesting to see that each petition in the earlier part of Psalm 132 is exceeded by its fulfilment at the close.

The ark in Zion and the tabernacle in Gibeon

The circumstance of the ark not being taken to the tabernacle at Gibeon was also of deep significance. It was completely judging the whole system connected with this tabernacle. The tabernacle was still in being, as well as the altar, and the priests offered sacrifices there; but the ark of the covenant of Jehovah had been taken away from it. The king disposed of the latter by his authority, placing it elsewhere. Ever since the ruin of Shiloh this judgment had continued as a chastisement executed by the enemy; but, now that God interposes by means of David and acts in power, this power places the visible sign of His covenant with His people elsewhere. The kingly power is established at Jerusalem, and the sign of God's covenant is taken away from the tabernacle of the congregation to be placed on Mount Zion, the seat of the kingly power.

When the people were to journey, Moses said [2], "Rise up, Jehovah, and let thine enemies be scattered, and let them that hate thee flee before thee." This was when the ark went before them to search out a resting-place for them. When it rested, he said, "Return, O Jehovah, unto the ten thousand thousands of Israel." But, when God had up to a certain point given rest to Israel, they knew not how to enjoy it. They took the ark out of its place to carry it into the camp of Israel, when defeated on account of their unfaithfulness by their enemies; but this was not now the place for the ark. Neither the one nor the other of Moses's expressions was suitable to this transfer of the ark to the midst of the camp. The ark was taken, and, as we have seen elsewhere, Ichabod was pronounced upon the people [3]. But the faithfulness of God is abiding; and, now that He has interposed in grace and power, and that the throne is established as the vessel of this power and grace, another word is given: "Arise, O Jehovah, into thy rest, thou and the ark of thy strength" (Psalm 132: 8). Israel, the camp, and the priesthood were no longer the rest of God.

[1] It is to be observed, that, although this had its origin in the guilty forgetfulness of David, it nevertheless gave occasion through grace to his being set in his true position for the regulation and appointment of all that concerned the Levites' service. It is always thus with regard to faith, for the purposes of God are fulfilled in favour of it. Man in his zeal may depart from the will of God, and God will chasten him, but only to bring him into more honour, by setting him more completely in the position which God has purposed, and in the understanding of His ways, according to which He will magnify His servant.

[2] Thus in the wilderness, it was Israel journeying, who were seeking their rest, who were to find enemies on their way, and whose faith recognised these enemies as the enemies of Jehovah; or Israel carefully surrounding the token of the presence of their God, when He gave a temporary rest unto His people.

[3] Expressed in these words, He has "delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand" (Psalm 78).