William Kelly Major Works Commentary
And David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader.1 Chronicles Chapter 13
The next thing shows us what was most in David's heart. Not the throne - that was most in their hearts - that David should reign. But David's heart thought of Jehovah's throne; and therefore he consults and says: "If it seem good unto you, and that it be of Jehovah our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren everywhere, that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites which are in their cities and suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us. And let us bring again the ark of our God to us; for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul." 1 Chronicles 13:2-3. And all the congregation agreed. "So David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering of Hemath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjath-jearim."
Shihor is, I presume, not the Nile, although it may be called so sometimes, but rather that brook of El-heresh that divides the land of Israel from the borders of the desert on the Egyptian side. "And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjath-jearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God Jehovah, that dwelleth between the cherubim whose name is called on it. And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab; and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart."
There was the great mistake. It was all very well for Philistines to send the ark of God in a cart - not for Israel. Israel should have known better. When the Philistines did it, there was a propriety. They had an object too. It was not to be driven; it was to be committed to the kine that were yoked to it. It was particularly meant as a test, because the cows would naturally care for the young they had left behind; and the very point of God's power and manifestation of His glory was this - that although there was very natural feeling on the part of the cows to go after their young, on the contrary they took an opposite direction, and carried the new cart with the ark upon it to the land of Israel, thus giving a most illustrious proof of the power of God above nature. It was not chance; it was not nature; it was God that governed. But with Israel it was a very different thing. Yet I presume they adopted the cart because it was the last thing. So it is that we often do. Even a Philistine tradition will carry away the people of God, so that although the only people, as far as we know, that ever employed a cart for the ark of God were these Philistines, here we find that wonderful man David, and the priests and the Levites, and indeed all Israel, all joining in this Philistinian way of bringing in the ark of God to the site that was destined for it.
Well, one bad step leads to another, and, although there was apparent joy, and no doubt there was plenty of outward honour to the ark, when they came to the threshing-floor of Chidon, God allowed that there should be something that tested their state. "Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Uzza, and He smote him, because he put his hand to the ark." He at least ought to have known better. He who belonged to the tribe of Levi - he who ought to have felt that God was able to take care of His own ark, let oxen stumble or not - he put forth his hand unhallowedly to sustain the sign of the presence of the God of Israel as if He were not there to care for His own glory. He was smitten on the spot, "and there he died before God." David was displeased, instead of humbling himself, "because Jehovah had made a breach upon Uzza; wherefore that place is called Perez-uzza to this day. And David was afraid of God that day, saying, "How shall I bring the ark of God home to me?" That was the next effect; first displeasure, then dread. "So David brought not the ark home to himself to the city of David, but carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of God remained with the family of Obed-edom in his house three months. And the Lord blessed the house of Obed-edom, and all that he had." There was such manifest blessing in that house that, as we find afterward, it could not abide; but there it abode at any rate for three months.
The next chapter, however, gives us not so much this religious picture of the state of things, which you will find to be extremely important afterward, but what I may call more practical - the manner in which the throne of David was regarded by the Gentiles not the humiliation of the king before the ark of God (David's relation to Jehovah) but the Gentiles' relation to David.
And David said unto all the congregation of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the LORD our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren every where, that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites which are in their cities and suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us:
And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we inquired not at it in the days of Saul.
And all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.
So David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering of Hemath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjathjearim.
And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjathjearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the LORD, that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called on it.
And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart.
And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets.
And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled.
And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.
And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzza: wherefore that place is called Perezuzza to this day.
And David was afraid of God that day, saying, How shall I bring the ark of God home to me?
So David brought not the ark home to himself to the city of David, but carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite.
And the ark of God remained with the family of Obededom in his house three months. And the LORD blessed the house of Obededom, and all that he had.