1Chronicles 15:1 ¶ And David made him houses in the city of David, and prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched for it a tent.
1Chronicles 15:2 Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever.
David built several houses in the city of David. JFB provides this note: “Where polygamy prevails, each wife has a separate house or suite of apartments for herself and children.”
The king prepared a special tent for the ark of God that became known as the tabernacle of David.
David must have done some reading in the scriptures. He realized that the ark of God should only be carried by the Levites as commanded by the LORD.
Deuteronomy 10:8 “At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day.”
1Chronicles 15:3 And David gathered all Israel together to Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the LORD unto his place, which he had prepared for it.
1Chronicles 15:4 And David assembled the children of Aaron, and the Levites:
1Chronicles 15:5 Of the sons of Kohath; Uriel the chief, and his brethren an hundred and twenty:
1Chronicles 15:6 Of the sons of Merari; Asaiah the chief, and his brethren two hundred and twenty:
1Chronicles 15:7 Of the sons of Gershom; Joel the chief, and his brethren an hundred and thirty:
1Chronicles 15:8 Of the sons of Elizaphan; Shemaiah the chief, and his brethren two hundred:
1Chronicles 15:9 Of the sons of Hebron; Eliel the chief, and his brethren fourscore:
1Chronicles 15:10 Of the sons of Uzziel; Amminadab the chief, and his brethren an hundred and twelve.
1Chronicles 15:11 And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites, for Uriel, Asaiah, and Joel, Shemaiah, and Eliel, and Amminadab,
1Chronicles 15:12 And said unto them, Ye are the chief of the fathers of the Levites: sanctify yourselves, both ye and your brethren, that ye may bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel unto the place that I have prepared for it.
1Chronicles 15:13 For because ye did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.
So once again David gathered all Israel together to Jerusalem to bring the ark of God to the tent that he had prepared for it. He assembled the descendants of Aaron and the Levites. This section lists the leaders of the different families—a total of over 860. David instructed the Levites to prepare themselves to transport the ark. He emphasized that it was because they had not followed the LORD’s instructions the first time that calamity had struck.
The NIV Commentary adds this note regarding the Levites sanctifying themselves: It “…involved certain prescribed ritual washings and the avoidance of any form of ceremonial defilement.”
We know this was three months later than the first attempt because it is noted that the ark stayed with Obededom for three months.
2 Samuel 6:11 “And the ark of the LORD continued in the house of Obededom the Gittite three months: and the LORD blessed Obededom, and all his household.”
The writer of Kings implies that it was the fact that Obededom’s family experienced such blessing due to the presence of the ark in their home that David was motivated to get the ark to Jerusalem as soon as possible. He wanted that blessing for Jerusalem.
2 Samuel 6:12 “And it was told king David, saying, The LORD hath blessed the house of Obededom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obededom into the city of David with gladness.”
1Chronicles 15:14 So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel.
1Chronicles 15:15 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.
The priests and Levites did as the king had instructed and carried the ark upon their shoulders as the LORD had commanded through Moses.
1Chronicles 15:16 And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of musick, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy.
1Chronicles 15:17 So the Levites appointed Heman the son of Joel; and of his brethren, Asaph the son of Berechiah; and of the sons of Merari their brethren, Ethan the son of Kushaiah;
1Chronicles 15:18 And with them their brethren of the second degree, Zechariah, Ben, and Jaaziel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Unni, Eliab, and Benaiah, and Maaseiah, and Mattithiah, and Elipheleh, and Mikneiah, and Obededom, and Jeiel, the porters.
1Chronicles 15:19 So the singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were appointed to sound with cymbals of brass;
1Chronicles 15:20 And Zechariah, and Aziel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Unni, and Eliab, and Maaseiah, and Benaiah, with psalteries on Alamoth;
1Chronicles 15:21 And Mattithiah, and Elipheleh, and Mikneiah, and Obededom, and Jeiel, and Azaziah, with harps on the Sheminith to excel.
1Chronicles 15:22 And Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song: he instructed about the song, because he was skilful.
1Chronicles 15:23 And Berechiah and Elkanah were doorkeepers for the ark.
1Chronicles 15:24 And Shebaniah, and Jehoshaphat, and Nethaneel, and Amasai, and Zechariah, and Benaiah, and Eliezer, the priests, did blow with the trumpets before the ark of God: and Obededom and Jehiah were doorkeepers for the ark.
David even instructed the leaders of the Levites to assign specific men to sing with musical instruments.
Š Heman, Asaph and Ethan were appointed to use cymbals of brass.
Š Zechariah Aziel, Shermiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah and Benaiah played the lyres, a type of harp.
Š Mattithiah, Elipheleh, Mikneiah, Obededom, Jeiel and Azaziah played harps.
“Sheminith” = “through the idea of plumpness; a cardinal number, eight (as if a surplus above the “perfect” seven)” – This seems to be a reference to the octave and playing with a full sound. Maybe this is a reference to using chords.
Š Chenaniah was chosen as the director of music since he was so skillful in that capacity.
Š Berechiah and Elkanah were chosen as the doorkeepers for the ark.
Š Shebaniah, Jehoshaphat, Nethaneel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah and Eliezer played the trumpets.
Š Obededom and Jehiah were also appointed as doorkeepers of the ark.
I think it is important to note in verse 16 that the Levites were to lift up their voices with joy. The LORD is honored when our worship of Him is filled with joy. That joy can be expressed in different types of music. That joy is not dependent upon our circumstances.
Matthew 5:11–12 “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven….”
2 Corinthians 6:4 “But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses…As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing….”
Philippians 2:17 “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.”
Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”
The NIV Commentary offers this not on verse 20: “The phrase “according to alamoth“ occurs also in the title to Ps 46. Since this noun means “maidens, virgins,” such as are mentioned as beating tambourines in ceremonial processions of singers and other musicians (Ps 68:25), it may indicate music produced in a soprano register.”
Throughout scripture it is evident that the LORD is a God of order. Paul makes it very clear in his letter to the Corinthians that we are to worship him “decently and in order.” David made careful preparations to ensure that the transport of the ark was well organized.
1 Corinthians 14:26 & 39–40 “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation….For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace….Let all things be done unto edifying. Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.”
1Chronicles 15:25 ¶ So David, and the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands, went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the house of Obededom with joy.
1Chronicles 15:26 And it came to pass, when God helped the Levites that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that they offered seven bullocks and seven rams.
1Chronicles 15:27 And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: David also had upon him an ephod of linen.
1Chronicles 15:28 Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps.
So David and leaders of Israel accompanied the ark as it was transported from the house of Obededom to Jerusalem. The people credited God with helping the Levites and offered a sacrifice of seven bulls and seven rams in gratitude. I am sure they needed some spiritual fortitude in light of the disastrous results of the previous attempt to move the ark.
David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as were the Levites that carried the ark and all the musicians. The king was also wearing an ephod or girdle of linen. It is noted that great joy accompanied the transport of the ark as evidenced by the shouting and music making of the people.
The record in Kings tells us a bit more. After the ark had been placed in the tent that David had prepared for it, he offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. He then blessed the people and gave everyone present a “good piece of flesh and a flagon of wine.”
2 Samuel 6:17–19 “And they brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts. And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. So all the people departed every one to his house.”
1Chronicles 15:29 And it came to pass, as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came to the city of David, that Michal the daughter of Saul looking out at a window saw king David dancing and playing: and she despised him in her heart.
One person in particular, however, was not a part of the joyful celebration. Michal, the daughter of Saul, David’s first wife, was filled with loathing as she watched her husband expressing his joy so freely with dancing.
The record in Kings again tells us a bit more. Either the LORD was displeased with Michal’s reaction and closed her womb or David never went in to lay with her again since it is noted that she had no children until the day of her death.
2 Samuel 6:20–23 “Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD. And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour. Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.”
Note that David declares that his expression of joy was “before the LORD.” He wasn’t worried about what other people were thinking; he was focused on pleasing God.
I liked Guzik’s observation: “This expression of David’s heart showed that he had a genuine emotional link to God. There are two great errors in this area - the error of making emotions the center of our Christian life and the error of an emotionally detached Christian life. In the Christian life emotions must not be manipulated and they must not be repressed.”