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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
The bulk of this chapter consists of new matter, which the writer of Chronicles found in his authorities.
1And David made him houses in the city of David, and prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched for it a tent.
And pitched for it a tent - The old "tent" or "tabernacle" was still in existence at Gibeon 1 Chronicles 16:39; 2 Chronicles 1:3; but the ark had long been separated from it, and David probably thought that something newer and more magnificent was requisite. He therefore allowed the former tabernacle to keep its place, and had another made and erected.
2Then 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.
None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites - Compare marginal references. We can easily understand that David, after the "breach upon Uzza" 1 Chronicles 13:11, had carefully considered all the legal requirements with respect to moving the ark, and was anxious that they should be strictly observed (compare 1 Chronicles 15:13).
3And David gathered all Israel together to Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the LORD unto his place, which he had prepared for it.
All Israel - Chosen men probably, like the 30,000 of 2 Samuel 6:1. See 1 Chronicles 15:25.
4And David assembled the children of Aaron, and the Levites:
The children of Aaron - i. e., the priests.
5Of the sons of Kohath; Uriel the chief, and his brethren an hundred and twenty:
The sons of Kohath - The order of the sons of Levi according to primogeniture is, Gershom, Kohath, Merari Genesis 46:11; Exodus 6:16. But the Kohathites, of whom came the priestly family of the Aaronites, had precedence in all respects. To them especially was committed the attendance upon the ark and the bearing of it. Of the six Levitical families mentioned 1 Chronicles 15:5-10 one only was descended from Gershom, one from Merari, and four (Uriel, Elizaphan, Hebron, and Uzziel) from Kohath.
6Of the sons of Merari; Asaiah the chief, and his brethren two hundred and twenty:
7Of the sons of Gershom; Joel the chief, and his brethren an hundred and thirty:
8Of the sons of Elizaphan; Shemaiah the chief, and his brethren two hundred:
9Of the sons of Hebron; Eliel the chief, and his brethren fourscore:
10Of the sons of Uzziel; Amminadab the chief, and his brethren an hundred and twelve.
11And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites, for Uriel, Asaiah, and Joel, Shemaiah, and Eliel, and Amminadab,
12And 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.
13For 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.
The "due order" was that the ark should be borne on the shoulders of Kohathite Levites - not that it should be placed upon a cart, drawn by oxen, and rudely shaken.
14So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel.
15And 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.
16And 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.
The singers - Singing had long been recognized as appropriate to religious ceremonies Exodus 15:21; Judges 5:1; 1 Chronicles 13:8; but this is the first occasion on which we find the duty of conducting musical services expressly laid on the Levites. Henceforth, the services of the tabernacle and the temple were regularly choral, and a considerable section of the Levites was trained in musical knowledge, and set apart to conduct this portion of the national worship.
17So 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;
18And 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.
19So the singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were appointed to sound with cymbals of brass;
20And Zechariah, and Aziel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Unni, and Eliab, and Maaseiah, and Benaiah, with psalteries on Alamoth;
Psalteries on Alamoth - Probably, psalteries whose tone resembled the voices of girls (עלמות ‛ălâmôth). Compare the "female flutes" of the Lydians.
21And Mattithiah, and Elipheleh, and Mikneiah, and Obededom, and Jeiel, and Azaziah, with harps on the Sheminith to excel.
Harps on the Sheminith - "Sheminith" properly means "the eighth," and has been compared with the modern musical term "octave." Further, "Sheminith" and "Alamoth" are regarded as contrasted, and the harps of Mattithiah and his companions are supposed to have been pitched an octave below the psalteries of Zechariah and his brethren.
The word translated "to excel," is taken as meaning "to lead," and Mattithiah, etc., as leaders of the singers.
22And Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song: he instructed about the song, because he was skilful.
For song - See the margin. Hebraists are still at variance as to the meaning of this passage, some supposing elevation or, delivery of the voice, others elevation of the ark, to be intended.
23And Berechiah and Elkanah were doorkeepers for the ark.
24And 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.
25So 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.
26And 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.
When God helped the Levites - The death of Uzza had deeply impressed both David and the Levites, and it was doubted whether God would allow the ark to be moved anymore. Sacrificial animals were held ready; and when it appeared - by the movement of the ark six paces 2 Samuel 6:13, without any manifestation of the divine displeasure - that God was not opposing but rather helping the Levites in their task, the victims were at once offered.
27And 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.
"Fine linen" (byssus) is here first spoken of as used for dress. It seems to have been reserved for nobles of the highest rank Esther 8:15, for kings, and for priests 2 Chronicles 5:12. David's robe was probably worn, like that of the high priest, immediately under the ephod, and may, like that, have reached the feet.
28Thus 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.
29And 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.