David’s initial attempt to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem stalled when God struck Uzzah dead for touching the ark. Fearing what the Lord might do to him and to others if they kept going with the ark, David had it taken to the house of Obed-edom (2 Sam. 6:1–10; 1 Chron. 13:1–13). But God blessed the house of Obed-edom while the ark was present, indicating that His curse was not inevitable in the presence of the ark (2 Sam. 6:11; 1 Chron. 13:14). This convinced David that he should move forward in bringing the ark into Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:12).
In today’s passage, we see that David learned an important lesson about following the Lord’s regulations for worship. Having pitched a tent for the ark in Jerusalem, David told the people that only the Levites could transport the ark. The reason God’s wrath broke out against Uzzah and Israel was because they did not follow the rule regarding the Levites and their appointed task of carrying the ark. Thus, we see that the Levites returned to their sacred role of transporting the ark, the footstool of God, and the families of Levi enlisted to do this were the families that were chosen hundreds of years earlier in the days of Aaron and Moses (1 Chron. 15:1–13; see Num. 4). Note also that the tent David built for the ark in Jerusalem was not the tabernacle. At this time, the tabernacle and ark were separated, with the tabernacle and altar located at Gibeon (see 1 Chron. 16:39–40).
This time, the Levites carried the ark properly, using the poles and putting it on their shoulders so that they would not actually touch the ark (1 Chron. 15:14–15; see Ex. 25:10–16). The ark then came into the city with great celebration. Musicians and singers from the Levites played instruments and praised God for His goodness in bringing His throne, symbolized by the ark as His footstool, into Jerusalem, where His representative king would reign over the people (1 Chron. 15:16–24). David even helped lead in the worship, wearing the same kind of fine linen that the Levites wore and offering sacrifices as the ark moved toward its resting place (vv. 25–28; see 2 Sam. 6:16–17). Ordinarily, the king did not lead in worship in that manner, but this was a special occasion, and David was a special king. In his actions here, we have a type of the King to come who would be both Priest and King, the Lord Jesus Christ. His reign is one of eternal peace and celebration (John 15:11; Rev. 19:6–8).