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2 Samuel 6:3–5

So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart (v. 3).

It is a huge group of people that descends on Kirjath Jearim to bring the ark to Jerusalem. David has called together the “choice men” of Israel, some thirty thousand of Israel’s best and brightest, “to grace the solemnity, to pay their respect to the ark, and to testify their joy in its restoration,” as Matthew Henry writes. But many more people may be present. Verse 5 speaks of “all the house of Israel,” and 1 Chronicles 13:5 specifically says David has “gathered all Israel.”

The emergence of the ark from the house of Abinadab is accompanied by musical fanfares performed by David and others. There are “instruments of fir wood, … harps, … stringed instruments, … tambourines, … sistrums [a type of rattle], … and … cymbals.” All these varied instruments played together may produce a cacophony, but it is clearly joyous. Accompanying the ark are Uzzah and Ahio, who are called “sons” of Abinadab. In 1 Samuel 7:1, we are told that Abinadab’s son Eleazar was consecrated to care for the ark. He is not mentioned here, but we need not conclude that Uzzah and Ahio have assumed his duties. They may be Eleazar’s brothers, or they may be grandsons of Abinadab, for the word here translated as “sons” can mean “descendants.”

But some strange and troubling details emerge from this passage. First, we are told that the ark is brought out and placed on “a new cart.” We have seen the ark transported this way before, but not by the Israelites—it was the Philistines who built a new cart to bear the ark back to Israel (1 Sam. 6:7). But that was not God’s prescribed way for the ark to be transported. It was to be carried by the Levites (Num. 7:9). Second, it appears that the ark is not properly covered before it is brought out. When the ark was returned by the Philistines, a number of people in the Israelite city of Beth Shemesh were struck by God because they gazed at it (1 Sam. 6:19). This was strictly forbidden by God: The priests of Israel were to cover the ark so that even its Levite carriers might not see it (Num. 4:5, 20). The people of Beth Shemesh should have averted their eyes, but if the priests had done their duty the people would not have had to do so. The same is true now. Despite David’s good intentions, the ark of the covenant is not being handled as carefully and as conscientiously as God requires.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Joyous exuberance in our walks with God is a good thing, but we must not let it cause us to forget the directives He has laid down to guide our steps. His Word must guide our conduct in all our circumstances. Are there times when you are prone to forget His commands? If so, repent and seek, by God’s help, to live “by the book” at all times.

For Further Study
  • Deut. 8:1
  • 2 Kings 17:38
  • Pss. 78:7; 119:16
  • Prov. 3:1

A Reminder of Kingship

An Outburst of Wrath

Keep Reading The Way of Glory: Persecution and Martyrdom in the Christian Life

From the September 2003 Issue
Sep 2003 Issue