1 Chronicles 13

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Read 1 Chronicles 13

Bringing Back the Ark

13 David conferred with each of his officers, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. He then said to the whole assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the Lordour God, let us send word far and wide to the rest of our people throughout the territories of Israel, and also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their towns and pasturelands, to come and join us. Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not inquire of it during the reign of Saul.” The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people.

So David assembled all Israel, from the Shihor River in Egypt to Lebo Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim. David and all Israel went to Baalah of Judah (Kiriath Jearim) to bring up from there the ark of God the Lord, who is enthroned between the cherubim—the ark that is called by the Name.

They moved the ark of God from Abinadab’s house on a new cart, with Uzzah and Ahio guiding it. David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, timbrels, cymbals and trumpets.

When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. 10 The Lord’s angerburned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.

11 Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.

12 David was afraid of God that day and asked, “How can I ever bring the ark of God to me?” 13 He did not take the ark to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 14 The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had.

Go Deeper

This chapter picks up right where the previous left off, right after King David assumes the throne over all of Israel. He is enjoying his place on the throne and morale is high. The people have feasted and celebrated their new king. Then, in this chapter, something goes wrong. 

One important takeaway from this chapter is that how we work matters just as much as the work we do. The same is true for how we serve God. To do the right thing for the wrong reasons is a misstep; so, too, is it a misstep to do the right thing the wrong way. God wants our efforts in work and in service to be done with both excellence and obedience. One cannot come without the other.  

In today’s passage, David learns this lesson the hard way. His intention is to move the ark back to Jerusalem and elevate God back to His rightful place in the minds and hearts of Israel. But in this well-intentioned effort, David moves the ark on a cart rather than having it carried by the appropriate priests. To us, that may seem like a minor detail. After all, the cart would be more efficient, especially for a long journey. But that’s beside the point. God had already laid out specific instructions on how to move the ark, and David either intentionally or unknowingly ignored them.  

He did the right thing the wrong way, and it led to the death of someone close to him. For us, this calls for a heart-check. Are we working with both obedience and excellence in everything we do? As we go about the daily tasks God puts in front of us, what are our motives? It’s important for us to remember that we can do the exact right thing with the entirely wrong motivation and miss the point entirely. Let’s have this lesson from the beginning of King David’s reign be a learning lesson for us all.


  1. How does David celebrate the return of the ark? 
  2. What causes Uzza to reach out and touch the ark? How does David react to the death of Uzzah? 
  3. Can you think of a recent time where you were doing the “right” thing with the wrong motive? What did you learn from that experience?

By the Way

To help understand this passage, read Numbers 4:15:

“And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is set to go, then the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them; but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These are the things in the tabernacle of meeting which the sons of Kohath are to carry.”

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2 thoughts on “1 Chronicles 13”

  1. Ella Snodgrass

    I’ve certainly been guilty of doing the right thing with the wrong motive, especially when I rush to check the boxes of obligations instead of slowing down and being spirit guided. The antidote is to pause, pray and invite God into the flurry of activities throughout the day, “to trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not to my own understanding, to acknowledge him in all my ways, so he can direct my path.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

  2. 1 Chronicles 16:11 Seek the Lord and his strength ;seek his presence continually!
    We look to God for answers. David knew that having the Ark close by would help the people to remember God better, he also knew how to move the ark and that he normal prayed to seek God about such things. David knew it was good for the ark to be close but did not pray and seek God first about moving it, he just ask the leaders. Everyone agreed it was a good idea and it was BUT GOD desires and requires for us to seek Him first as verse 11( 1 Chronicles 16) in a few chapters ahead states. How can we live spiritually minded if we do not seek Him? I know He is there but I have just been living life, just asking for help on occasion. I believe we should be seeking Him minutely for every, every and all decisions by (Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.) praying for His will and what would please Him. It is new for me to do this. I have known this was what to do but never put it into practice until the last few years and still I am trying and not always succeeding. More about the way we try to bring God down to our worldly way of thinking at got questions. https://www.gotquestions.org/Uzzah.html

    God I am seeking You Lord and Your strength. I want and desire to seek Your presence continually! I know that I want Your will to be done in my life and the only way for that to happen is to seek You. Thank You that it is minute by minute my seeking Your face. I trust in You God and lean not on my own understanding but in ALL ALL my ways acknowledge You for direction in Jesus name amen

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