And the children of the Levites bare the ark of God upon their shoulders with the staves thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of the LORD. 1 Chr. 15:15
Early on, notice the word “shoulders” in this scripture. Shoulders speak of responsibility. Mark that.
But first, let us set a background for what we want to learn from this scripture.
In 2 Samuel 6:1-7 we read:
“1 Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims. 3 And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart. 4 And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark. 5 And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals. 6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. 7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.”
This account is repeated in 1 Chronicles chapter 13.
Had David made a new cart for himself to ride upon, God would have had absolutely no problem with that. But David made the cardinal error of trying to set the ark of God’s covenant with Israel on the new cart he had made. But God is not served by human hands, and this act was extremely displeasing to Him. His anger boiled over when Uzzah stretched out his hand to touch the ark as it threatened to topple over in its doomed crossing. God killed Uzzah right there and then.
The ark never arrived at its destination, the holy city of Jerusalem. The mission to bring back the ark to Jerusalem came to a disgraceful and tragic end midway in its execution, and David had to leave the ark – and all the blessings that went with it – at Obededom’s house.
In 1 Chronicles chapter 15, we see David bringing the ark to Jerusalem the right way, the way God wanted it done: carried on the shoulders of the priests and Levites.
Notice that in both expeditions to bring back the ark, it is stated that there was singing and dancing. In the first attempt, the Bible even says that “David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.”
But God had never intended for “all the house of Israel” to play these instruments. He had chosen specific men to play these instruments. God had given very specific instructions to Moses about who was to do what in Israel’s service to God. David over-rode that directive and he allowed “all the house of Israel” to play every kind of instrument before the Lord.
Moreover, as we have already seen, God had chosen men, not new carts, to bear the ark of the covenant upon their shoulders. God had told Moses that the ark of the covenant was to be carried by men, the priests and Levites. But David chose to ignore that directive and he built a new cart for the Lord’s ark.
David’s actions cost a man his life.
[Below: God is above all!]