1 Chronicles 15 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

1 Chronicles 15
Pulpit Commentary
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.
Verse 1. - The contents of this verse and the following verses up to the twenty-fifth have no parallel in the Book of Samuel, and excite suggestion respecting the different objects with which the compiler of Chronicles wrote, as compared with those of the author of the former work. They also direct fresh attention to the sources upon which they drew. The history of the preparations made for the reception of the ark, and for its safe and religious escort into the city, is now proceeded with. These preparations occupied the three months, or part of the three months, spoken of in 1 Chronicles 13:14. The houses may have been both his own (1 Chronicles 14:1) and the buildings referred to in 1 Chronicles 11:8 and 2 Samuel 5:9. The old tent, or tabernacle, is repeatedly alluded to, as in 1 Chronicles 16:39; 2 Chronicles 1:3. It will be remembered that the tabernacle established by Joshua at Shiloh remained there till the time of Eli, and the ark within it (1 Samuel 3:3). Afterwards we find it removed to Nob, for there David ate the shewbread (1 Samuel 21:6). From thence, very possibly after the savage slaughter of the priests by the order of Saul, it was removed, and we find it at Gibeon, according to the above references. Here at Gibeon was an altar and "high place," which, in the earlier time of Solomon, formed the chief religious centre. The wanderings of the ark already given from Shiloh, through Philistia to Beth-she-mesh, Kirjath-jearim, Perez-uzzah, now land it in this tent in Jerusalem. It is no more sheltered in the tabernacle. But the tabernacle, as well as the ark, was ultimately brought to the new-built temple of Solomon (1 Kings 8:4; 1 Chronicles 9:19; 2 Chronicles 1:4).
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.
Verse 2. - This verse together with vers. 12-15 show that the severe lesson of the destruction of Uzzah had been laid to heart, and had made David supremely anxious to take better counsel of the Law. Uzzah, though possibly the son of a Levite, more probably of a Hivite (Joshua 9:7, 17), was not a priest, nor is there any sufficient evidence that he was a Levite; and most distinct was the order of the Law (Numbers 1:51-53; Numbers 3:29-32; 4:15420), that "when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." So the sons of Kohath are to come to bear the sanctuary with all its sacred vessels, "but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die." Many things were allowed to be carried on waggons under the charge of the Gershonites and Merarites, but the strict contents of the sanctuary were to be borne in a specified manner by the Kohathites.
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.
Verse 3. - All Israel; i.e. as before, representatives of all Israel. So ver. 25 decides: "The elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands, went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord."
And David assembled the children of Aaron, and the Levites:
Verses 4-11. - This classification of the children of Aaron, as the special priests, and of the Levites, is constantly observed (1 Chronicles 12:26, 27; 1 Chronicles 27:17). The mention of the six representative Levitical families follows. That of Kohath (ver. 5) takes the lead, because, though second in order of birth (Genesis 46:11; Exodus 6:16-19; 1 Chronicles 6:1-30), its priestly importance gave it always first rank. To the same head belonged also three of the remaining five families, viz. Hebron (ver. 9) and Uzziel (ver. 10), who were brothers, as being beth sons of Kohath (Exodus 6:18); and Elizaphan, who, though son of Uzziel (Exodus 6:22), had come to represent a distinct family (Numbers 3:30). The other two required to complete the six are Asaiah (ver. 6) of the house of Merari, and Joel (ver. 7) of the house of Gershom. The representatives, then, of these six families, with the company of the brethren belonging to each of them, and the two priests Zadok and Abiathar (ver. 11), are now summoned into the presence of David, to receive a short but special charge.
Of the sons of Kohath; Uriel the chief, and his brethren an hundred and twenty:
Of the sons of Merari; Asaiah the chief, and his brethren two hundred and twenty:
Of the sons of Gershom; Joel the chief, and his brethren an hundred and thirty:
Of the sons of Elizaphan; Shemaiah the chief, and his brethren two hundred:
Of the sons of Hebron; Eliel the chief, and his brethren fourscore:
Of the sons of Uzziel; Amminadab the chief, and his brethren an hundred and twelve.
And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites, for Uriel, Asaiah, and Joel, Shemaiah, and Eliel, and Amminadab,
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.
Verse 12. - Sanctify yourselves, both ye and your brethren. Nothing of the appointed observances of the Law are to be omitted this time, as in the haste and want of premeditation of the former occasion (Exodus 19:22; Exodus 28:41; Exodus 40:13; Leviticus 8:12; Leviticus 20:7; Leviticus 21:8; 2 Chronicles 5:11; 2 Chronicles 29:15). These "sanctifyings" consisted of different observances, according to the person and the occasion, but largely of ablutions of the body, washing of the clothes, and keeping separate from all natural and ceremonial causes of uncleanness in ordinary cases of Levitical service. That ye may bring up the ark. The word here employed for "bring" is not the same with the "carry" of vers 1 and 2. But the following verses (13-15) seem to intimate that, whatever the exact reason for which Uzzah had been peremptorily cut off, the Levites had also been to blame in not sanctifying themselves to carry the ark by its staves in the way originally appointed.
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.
Verse 13. - This verse purports to say that the Levites had been deficient in their duty in the double sense of not having themselves exclusively undertaken the removal of the ark, and not having executed that removal after the due order.
So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel.
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.
Verse 15. - (So see Exodus 25:13-15; Numbers 4:15; Numbers 7:9.) It is plain that from the first stress was laid upon the rings and the staves through them by which the ark was to be carried, as also the "table of shittim wood" (Exodus 25:26-28) and the "altar" (Exodus 27:4-7) and the "altar of incense" (Exodus 30:4, 5). However, these rings and staves were not found in the permanent furniture of the temple, except only for the ark.
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.
Verses 16, 17. - To appoint their brethren to be the singers. This was the first step towards what we have already read in 1 Chronicles 6:31-39, 44; 1 Chronicles 9:33, 34 (where see notes).
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;
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.
Verse 18. - Ben. This word is either altogether an accidental interpolation, or a remnant of some statement of the patronymic character regarding Zechariah. Another indication of the state of the text in this verse is to be found in the probable omission of the name Azazgah of ver. 21, after Jeiel. It will be observed that no trace of this word Ben is found in the repeated list of ver. 20.
So the singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were appointed to sound with cymbals of brass;
Verses 19-21. - The psalteries on Alamoth (ver. 20), and harps on the Sheminith to excel (ver. 21), are descriptions the exact significance of which is not yet satisfactorily ascertained. Yet their connection in a series of four divisions of musical duty does throw some light upon them. These four verses manifestly purport to describe a special part to be performed by those of whom they respectively speak. Gesenius explains psalteries on Alamoth to mean such instruments as savoured of virgin tone or pitch, i.e. high as compared with the lower pitch of men's voices. This lower pitch he considers intimated by the word "Sheminith," literally, the eighth, or octave. The added expression, "to excel," need scarcely be, with him, understood to mean "to take the lead musically," but may be read generally to mark their supassing quality.
And Zechariah, and Aziel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Unni, and Eliab, and Maaseiah, and Benaiah, with psalteries on Alamoth;
And Mattithiah, and Elipheleh, and Mikneiah, and Obededom, and Jeiel, and Azaziah, with harps on the Sheminith to excel.
And Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song: he instructed about the song, because he was skilful.
Verse 22. - For song. There is considerable diversity of opinion as to the meaning of this word. Some think its meaning to be "in the carrying (בַּמַּשָּׂא)" i.e. of the ark. Its exact position here seems not unfavourable to such interpretation. On the other hand, its position in ver. 27 seems conclusively to point to the translation of the Septuagint and of our Authorized Version in this place as the correct one. Dr. Murphy, however, to escape this, thinks "with the singers" in ver. 27 to be a "copyist's inadvertent repetition."
And Berechiah and Elkanah were doorkeepers for the ark.
Verse 23. - Berechiah and Elkanah. It appears from the following verse that there was also another couple of doorkeepers (i.e. persons to protect the openings of the ark, that it should not be opened), viz. Obed-edom and Jehiah.
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.
Verse 24. - Between these couples probably went the seven priests blowing the trumpets (Numbers 10:1-9). These trumpets were of solid silver, of one piece, were straight and narrow, and had an expanded mouth. They are found on the arch of Titus, and are described by Josephus. On the other hand, the trumpet, more correctly rendered "cornet" (שׁופָר, as distinguished from our חְצועְרָה, which was used for proclaiming the jubilee, for announcing the new year for sentinel and other special signals, and for war, was shaped like a ram's horn, and probably made of the same. The particular appropriateness of the use of the former on this occasion is manifest, in addition to the fact that they were the appointed trumpets for the journeying of the camp and a fortiori of the ark itself at a time so essentially religious as the present. Yet, as we learn from ver. 28, the latter were used as well, and cymbals, psalteries, and harps. The original number of the silver trumpets was two only, and they were to be sounded strictly by the anointed priests, sons of Aaron, at all events when their employment was within the sanctuary. Their employment, however, grew far more general, and we find (2 Chronicles 5:12) that their number had risen to a hundred and twenty (so too 2 Chronicles 13:12; Nehemiah 12:35). For Obed-edom, the doorkeeper, see 1 Chronicles 16:38; and therewith note on 1 Chronicles 13:14.
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.
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.
Verse 26. - This verse with the following four are paralleled by 2 Samuel 6:12-16 The contents of this verse in particular reveal the intense anxiety and the trembling fear and awe with which the sacred burden was now again lifted. A world of meaning and of feeling for all those present at least underlay the expression, When God helped the Levites that bare the ark (comp. 1 Samuel 6:14, 15; 2 Samuel 6:13, 18). The offering of seven bullocks and seven rams is thought by some to he additional to David's offering, when he had gone "six paces" (2 Samuel 6:13). Much more probably, however, the "six paces" meant, not six footsteps, but six lengths that would make some distance.
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.
Verse 27. - Several things in this verse indicate a somewhat uncertain and unsteady selection of particulars by the compiler from his original sources. The natural reading of the verse would seem to say that David and all those Levites who bore the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah, all wore the robe of byssus, while David had, in addition, the ephod of linen. Yet it is unlikely that all did wear the robe. Again, the Hebrew text exhibits no preposition before the singers, on the second occasion of the occurrence of the expression in this verse. Yet little sense can be found without a preposition. The robe was not distinctively a priest's garment (1 Samuel 18:4; 1 Samuel 24:5, 12; 2 Samuel 13:18; Job 1:20; Job 2:12), though priests did wear it. The robe of byssus is spoken of only here; 2 Chronicles 5:12; and Esther 8:15. Byssus, however, is spoken of as material for other purposes in 1 Chronicles 4:21; 2 Chronicles 2:14; 2 Chronicles 3:14; Esther 1:6; Ezekiel 27:16. The ephod, on the other hand, was no doubt distinctively a high priest's garment (Exodus 28:4-12), though we read of Samuel wearing one (1 Samuel 2:18, 28), and of David doing the same, as on this occasion. The fine linen (בּוצ), in the first clause of this verse, is not the same with that (בָּך) in the last clause. The first clause of this verse (which makes the last clause somewhat redundant) bears some resemblance in letters to the 2 Samuel 6:14 fourteenth verse of 2 Samuel 6. first clause, which means, "and David danced with all his might," and the two clauses exactly answer to one another in position - another suggestion of an uncertain text here.
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.
Verse 28. - Making a noise. This description qualifies the cymbals alone, and should rather appear in our translation as "noise-making cymbals."
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.
Verse 29. - Thus briefly is given by our compiler what occupies five verses (2 Samuel 6:19, 20-23) in the Book of Samuel. Neither of the words here rendered dancing and playing (but which would be better rendered "leaping and dancing") is the same with those employed in 2 Samuel 6:14, 16, where our Authorized Version rendering is "dancing" and "leaping and dancing" respectively. The word in both of those verses that represents the dancing, does correctly so represent, bet is a somewhat generic form, as it carries the idea of dancing in a circle. The reason of Michal "despising David in her heart" can only be found in the unreason and the irreligion of that heart itself. She was a type of not a few, who despise devotion, enthusiasm, and above all practical liberality and generosity, on the part of any individual of their own family, when these are shown to Christ and his Church, and when they think they may be a trifle the poorer for it, or when they feel that the liberality and devotion of another exposes their own "poverty" in both these respects.

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