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1 Chronicles 15


(LXX versing)
Plans to Move the Ark to Jerusalem The Ark Brought to Jerusalem The Ark Brought to Jerusalem Getting Ready to Move the Covenant Box Preparations for moving the Ark
15:1-10 15:1-15 15:1-10 15:1-10 15:1-2
15:11-15 15:11-15 15:11-13 15:11-15
15:16-24 15:16-24 15:16-24 15:16-21a 15:16-24
Moving the Covenant Box to Jerusalem The Ark is Brought to Jerusalem
15:25-28 15:25-28 15:25-28 15:25-28 15:25-16:3
15:29 15:29 15:29 15:29

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Etc.


  1. 1 Chronicles 13-16 forms a literary unit about the ark coming to Jerusalem.
    1. chapter 13, the desire and first failed attempt
    2. chapter 14, David settles into his new capital
    3. chapter 15, the ark is successfully brought to Jerusalem with appropriate ritual
    4. chapter 16, a Psalm of thanksgiving about its arrival

  2. 1 Chronicles 15:3 captures three of the four foci of the Chronicler.
    1. "all Israel," 1 Chr. 15:3,28
    2. Jerusalem, David's new capital
    3. Jerusalem, the home of the ark (i.e., David prepared a tent)

  3. 1 Chronicles 15:4-24 captures the fourth foci—the priests and Levites are appointed and organized by David.

  4. The genealogical lists of 1 Chr. 15:4-10 and 16-24 seem to break into the narrative. Possibly they serve the meta-narrative of the Chronicler by providing Aaronic genealogical confirmation to the temple servants of his own post-exilic day (i.e., Ezra, Nehemiah).

  5. There is a merging of
    1. the activity of the priests and Levites on bringing the ark to Jerusalem
    2. the later activity of the priests and Levites in the ongoing service at the central shrine


1Now David built houses for himself in the city of David; and he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. 2Then David said, "No one is to carry the ark of God but the Levites; for the Lord chose them to carry the ark of God and to minister to Him forever." 3And David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place which he had prepared for it. 4David gathered together the sons of Aaron and the Levites: 5of the sons of Kohath, Uriel the chief, and 120 of his relatives; 6of the sons of Merari, Asaiah the chief, and 220 of his relatives; 7of the sons of Gershom, Joel the chief, and 130 of his relatives; 8of the sons of Elizaphan, Shemaiah the chief, and 200 of his relatives; 9of the sons of Hebron, Eliel the chief, and 80 of his relatives; 10of the sons of Uzziel, Amminadab the chief, and 112 of his relatives.

15:1 "built houses" This could refer to

  1. many chambers or rooms in David's palace
  2. separate quarters for his wives and children
  3. other official buildings

▣ "the city of David" This city goes by several names.

Originally the Israelites did not conquer the city of Jebus (cf. Jos. 15:63; Jdgs. 1:21), the citadel or stronghold. Later David conquered the fortified position (cf. 2 Sam. 5:8, i.e., "through the water tunnel").


▣ "a tent for it" Originally the portable tabernacle of the wilderness served as the dwelling place of the ark. By Samuel's day, the ark was still housed in a tent at Shiloh (cf. 1 Samuel 1). It is uncertain if David used (cf. 1 Chr. 16:1)

  1. the original curtains and coverings of Exodus (Exodus 25-27)
  2. the expanded tent at Shiloh
  3. constructed a new tent along the lines of Exodus 25-27

15:2 David learned his lesson (cf. 1 Chr. 13:9-11) about how to transport the ark (cf. 1 Chr. 15:13; Num. 1:51; 14:15,19,20).

15:3 "all Israel at Jerusalem" These are two of the major themes of the Chronicler (see note at 1 Chr. 14:3).

  1. "all Israel"
  2. Jerusalem

▣ "to bring up the ark" This is the focus of chapter 15. This VERB (BDB 748, KB 828) is repeated several times.

  1. Hiphil INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT, 1 Chr. 15:3,14,25 (cf. 13:6)
  2. Hiphil PERFECT with waw, 1 Chr. 15:12
  3. Hiphil ACTIVE PARTICIPLE, 1 Chr. 15:28


11Then David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites, for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel and Amminadab, 12and said to them, "You are the heads of the fathers' households of the Levites; consecrate yourselves both you and your relatives, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place that I have prepared for it. 13Because you did not carry it at the first, the Lord our God made an outburst on us, for we did not seek Him according to the ordinance." 14So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. 15The sons of the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles thereon, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.

15:11 "Zadok and Abiathar the priests" During David's day there were two High Priests. Later Zadok supported Solomon but Abiathar (cf. 1 Sam. 22:20-23) supported Adonijah (cf. 1 Kgs. 1:7). Solomon exiled him and his descendants to their home city of Anathoth (cf. 1 Kgs. 2:26-27).

15:12 "consecrate yourselves" This VERB (BDB 872, KB 1073, Hithpael IMPERATIVE) is used often of several groups.

  1. all Israel
    1. at Sinai ‒ Exod. 19:14,15
      (1) wash clothes
      (2) no sexual contact
    2. before Passover ‒ 2 Chr. 30:17; 31:18; 35:6
    3. Levitical Law
      (1) food laws (Lev. 11:44)
      (2) no mediums or spiritists or fertility worship
    4. special provision of quail ‒ Num. 11:18
    5. before crossing Jordan ‒ Jos. 3:5
    6. mandate of Isaiah
      (1) food laws
      (2) no fertility worship
  2. Priests and Levites
    1. initial consecration
      (1) washings ‒ Exod. 29:4; 30:19-21
      (2) anointing, Exod. 29:7
      (3) special clothing, Exod. 29:5-9
      (4) special sacrifice, Exod. 29:10-28
    2. priest with proper attitudes ‒ 2 Chr. 5:11
    3. take away unclean things ‒ 2 Chr. 29:5,34
    4. for priest before offering sacrifices ‒ 2 Chr. 30:3,15

The text states "according to the word of the Lord." One would assume this refers to Exodus 19 or to unrecorded traditions.

▣ "to the place" Most English translations supply "the place" as an OBJECT to the INFINITIVE but the Targums and Vulgate supply "tent" (cf. 2 Sam. 6:17). The LXX just leaves the sentence awkward.

15:13 "an outburst" This VERB (BDB 829 I, KB 971, Qal PERFECT) is used several times to denote God's actions.

  1. God's judgment on Uzza touching the ark ‒ 1 Chr. 13:11
  2. David's victory over the Philistines ‒ 1 Chr. 14:11 (cf. 2 Sam. 5:20)
  3. a reference to #1 ‒ 1 Chr. 15:13

This follows the usage in Exod. 19:22,24. It is used in Ps. 106:29 to describe the events of Num. 25:4 (the fertility worship by Israel at Baal-Peor).


15:15 "as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord" This is a recurrent theme in Chronicles (cf. 2 Chr. 8:13; 23:18; 30:16; 35:6). The post-exilic community wanted to be faithful and reflect the Mosaic covenant. This assured them they were the restored covenant people, successors of the Patriarchal promises.


16Then David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their relatives the singers, with instruments of music, harps, lyres, loud-sounding cymbals, to raise sounds of joy. 17So the Levites appointed Heman the son of Joel, and from his relatives, Asaph the son of Berechiah; and from the sons of Merari their relatives, Ethan the son of Kushaiah, 18and with them their relatives of the second rank, Zechariah, Ben, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-edom and Jeiel, the gatekeepers. 19So the singers, Heman, Asaph and Ethan were appointed to sound aloud cymbals of bronze; 20and Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah and Benaiah, with harps tuned to alamoth; 21and Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-edom, Jeiel and Azaziah, to lead with lyres tuned to the sheminith. 22Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was in charge of the singing; he gave instruction in singing because he was skillful. 23Berechiah and Elkanah were gatekeepers for the ark. 24Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah and Eliezer, the priests, blew the trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-edom and Jehiah also were gatekeepers for the ark.

15:16 Several functions of Levites are:

  1. singers (1 Chr. 15:11,19,22)
  2. instrumentalists (1 Chr. 15:16,20,21,24)
    1. for transport
    2. for worship
  3. gatekeepers (1 Chr. 15:18,23,24)
    1. of the tent (shrine)
    2. of the ark (inner tent, holy place, Holy of Holies)

15:18 "of the second rank" This is the Hebrew term for "second" (BDB 1041). It could refer to

  1. a next important chariot to the king's chariot ‒ Gen. 41:43; 2 Chr. 35:24
  2. a helper to the High Priest ‒ 2 Kgs. 23:4; 25:18; Jer. 52:24
  3. a second in command to a king ‒ 1 Sam. 23:17; 2 Chr. 28:7; Esther 10:3
  4. a helper or second in charge of Levites ‒ here; 1 Chr. 16:5; 2 Chr. 31:12; Neh. 11:17

▣ "Obed-edom" One wonders if this is the person mentioned in 1 Chr. 13:13-14, where the ark was temporarily kept.

15:20 "to alamoth" This is from the same root as "young woman" in Isa. 7:14 (BDB 761). It may refer to female soprano voices. It is used four times in Psalms (i.e., Psalm 46 intro).

15:21 "the sheminith" This term (lit. "eighth," BDB 1033) seems to be the opposite of alamoth, possibly for male singers. It denotes "an octave" or "an eighth." It is also found in the introduction to Psalm 6 and 12.

It could refer to an eight stringed lyre (see Roland deVaux, Ancient Israel, p. 383).

NASB  "the singing"
NKJV, NRSV, TEV, REB  "the music"
NJB, Targum  "transport"
JPSOA  "in song"
LXX  "singers"
Young's Literal  "the burden"
Rotherham's Emphasized  "the service"

It is obvious that the meaning of the term (lit. "lifting," BDB 672 II), used here and in 1 Chr. 15:27, is uncertain.

  1. KB 418 suggests "instructor." The idea of "burden" or "transport" comes from 1 Chr. 15:27, where it is mentioned that the Levites carry the ark.
  2. Another word for "singing/singers" (BDB 1010) is used twice.

Notice how confused the NASB translation sounds.

25So it was David, with the elders of Israel and the captains over thousands, who went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-edom with joy. 26Because God was helping the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, they sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams. 27Now David was clothed with a robe of fine linen with all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and the singers and Chenaniah the leader of the singing with the singers. David also wore an ephod of linen. 28Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, and with sound of the horn, with trumpets, with loud-sounding cymbals, with harps and lyres.

15:26 The VERB "helping" (BDB 740, KB 810, Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE) implies that since the Levites were carrying the ark in an appropriate manner according to the law of Moses, they were not killed (like Uzza, cf. 2 Samuel 6).

15:27 "a robe of fine linen. . .an ephod of linen" This was the special fabric worn by priests (cf. Exod. 28:42; 39:28; Lev. 6:10). David is symbolically wearing an ephod (cf. 2 Sam. 6:14). In 2 Sam. 6:17 David is said to have even offered sacrifices (the very thing Saul got in trouble for with Samuel, cf. 1 Sam. 13:8-14). Possibly the priests offered them on his behalf.

It is obvious that Samuel and Chronicles are attaching a "priestly" aspect to David. This may reflect the ANE concept of Priest-King.

  1. Melchizedek of Genesis 14
  2. the Messiah in Psalm 110
  3. Zechariah 3-4; 6:9-15 (Zerubbabel and Joshua share post-exilic leadership)
  4. the NT book of Hebrews (i.e., Jesus as High Priest of the new covenant)

Notice how David is the one who

  1. gathered the sons of Aaron and the Levites, 1 Chr. 15:3
  2. called Zadok and Abiathar as High Priests, 1 Chr. 15:11
  3. appointed the Levites as transporters of the ark, 1 Chr. 15:12-14
  4. appointed the singers and instrumentalists, as well as the gatekeepers, 1 Chr. 15:16-24

▣ "an ephod of linen" See SPECIAL TOPIC: EPHOD.

15:28 "all Israel. . .the ark" See note at 1 Chr. 14:3.


29It happened when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came to the city of David, that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and celebrating; and she despised him in her heart.

15:29 "Michal the daughter of Saul" This event is from 2 Samuel 6. David wanted to marry her to assure the unity of the tribes (i.e., Saul's daughter, cf. 1 Samuel 18-19). After this encounter, David cut off all contact with her, therefore, there could never be an heir to unify the tribes. God united the tribes, not by lineage but by His clearly expressed will.


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. What kind of tent did David pitch in 1 Chr. 15:1?
  2. Why does this chapter on bringing the ark into Jerusalem focus on Levite genealogies?
  3. List the different functions of the Levites mentioned in this chapter.
  4. What do the musical terms mentioned in 1 Chr. 15:20 and 21 mean?
  5. Why was David dressed like and acting like a priest in 1 Chr. 15:25-28?
  6. Why is the rejection of Michal mentioned (29)?

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