May 4 Reading: I Chronicles 13-16 Commentary

Below is our I Chronicles 13-16 commentary from our Beginning to End Bible reading program. You can find an email link at the end of this page to share your thoughts or comments with us.

Key Verse(s):

Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore!” (I Chronicles 16:8-11).

I Chronicles 13 – David Moves the Ark

commentaryA regrettable story takes place in I Chron. 13 as David transported the Ark of the Covenant. If you remember, the ark contained the 10 Commandments that Moses received from God on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 20). At one point, it had been captured in battle by the Philistines, but then reclaimed and placed in the city of Kirjath Jearim for safe keeping. David desired to bring it to Jerusalem to help unify the Israelites around God (v. 1-4). The corresponding text for these events is found in II Sam. 5-6

Unfortunately, David didn’t follow the strict regulations for ark transportation. It was supposed to be carried with poles through ringlets on the ark. Additionally, it was only to be carried by priests (Num. 4).

Instead of doing that, he decided to transport it on a cart (v. 7). At one point in the journey, the cart faltered and the ark began to slide. A man named Uzzah reached up and touched the ark to steady it (v. 9).

The result? God struck him dead (v.10). That seems harsh to us. It also did to David. He became angry with God, until he realized his own disobedience in the matter (v. 11).

The ark represented the presence of the living God. It was a holy object representing God himself. To handle it in any other way than what God instructed – even with the best intentions – was to invite his righteous anger. This demonstration of God’s holiness should remind us even today that we should approach him with respectful awe and wonder. 

David was afraid of God saying, “How can I ever bring the ark of God to me?” (v. 12). So he left it in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months (vv. 13-14).

I Chronicles 14 – Defeat of the Philistines

David moved on to Jerusalem and established his kingdom there. He knew that God was behind his ascent to the throne (v. 2). Once king, he took more wives (vv. 3-6) and began to establish relationships with surrounding leaders, like Hiram, king of Tyre (v. 1).

A nagging enemy remained however. The Philistines had always been Israel’s nemesis. Even once David became king, the Philistines went out to search for him and conducted raids in the region (vv. 8-9).

So David inquired of the Lord asking, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?” (v. 10). The answer from God was a resounding “Yes”. God would give David success in this military campaign.

David defeated them once at Baal Perazim (v. 12) and again in the Valley of Rephaim (v. 13). The second time God told David how to approach the battle. In this instance, He told David:

“You shall not go up after them; circle around them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when you hear a sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall go out to battle, for God has gone out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines” (vv. 14-15). 

With God’s help, David drove back the mighty Philistine armies. The victory produced the desired affect in that “…the fame of David went out into all lands, and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations” (v. 17).

I Chronicles 15 – The Ark Is Brought to Jerusalem

David really desired to bring the ark to Jerusalem. We get a picture that he now understood the proper procedures because in verse 2 he said: “No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the Lord has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever.” Evidently, someone had educated him on the way to do this the right way.

David “gathered all Israel together at Jerusalem” for this event (v. 3). Additionally, he assembled all the important and necessary leaders. This included the priests Zadok and Abiathar and the Levites who would bring the ark to the city. David even warned them again about the mistakes they had made before (v. 13).

No mistakes were going to be made this time. Verses 14-15 show their obedience to the commands of the Lord on ark transportation:

“So the priests and the 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.”

The procession to Jerusalem included singers and musicians with all types of instruments (stringed instruments, harps, cymbals and trumpets). The group came singing “with resounding joy” (v. 16) and with shouting (v. 28). We know from II Sam. 6:16 that David even danced in the procession.

Michal is Mad

This “undignified” kingly behavior appears to have upset David’s wife Michal. When she saw him acting this way, she “…despised him in her heart” (v. 29).

There’s had been a rocky relationship from the start, seeing that she was the daughter of King Saul, the man who wanted David’s life. They’d been married but then Saul gave her to another man when David fled from Saul’s presence (I Sam. 25). Later, David took her away from that husband as part of his agreement with Abner to unify the nation under one banner (II Sam. 3).

So her attitude towards David probably had more to do with her loyalty to her now dead father rather than David’s actual dancing. So she was estranged from David the rest of her life and died without having children (II Sam. 6:23).

I Chronicles 16 – David’s Song of Thanksgiving

David placed the ark in the tabernacle and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord (v. 1). He then blessed the people and distributed to each man and woman a loaf of bread, a piece of meat and a cake of raisins (vv. 2-3).

He then appointed Asaph to be supervisor of worship in the tabernacle. Asaph along with several others ministered “before the ark regularly, as every day’s work required” (v. 37).

A Song of Thanksgiving

On this day, David composed a song of thanksgiving to the Lord (vv. 8-36). Parts of this psalm can be found in Psalms 96:1-13, Psalm 105:1-15, and Psalm 106:1, 47-48.

Some highlights from David’s words include:

1. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore!” (vv. 8-11).

2. “Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is also to be feared above all gods” (vv. 23-25).

3. “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; and let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns'” (v. 31).

4. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (v. 34). 

When the people heard David’s psalm they said “Amen!” and praised the Lord (v. v. 36).

Questions and Thoughts to Consider from I Chronicles 13-16:

Life is more fulfilling when God is at the center of it and living in our midst.

For Israel, nothing symbolized God’s presence more than the Ark of the Covenant. When David became king, he brought it to Jerusalem, eventually to be housed in Solomon’s temple. Today, God dwells within us in the temple of our heart. Is your life centered on Him?

David did not let detractors keep him from praising the Lord in the way he saw fit. His singing and dancing was pleasing to the Lord. God would have been critical of him otherwise. 

What other points would you want to know about in our I Chronicles 13-16 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.