1 Chronicles 15:2 – The Law of Silence

By Wayne Jackson

First Chronicles 15 contains an interesting comment on an incident that occurred during the administration of David. It has to do with the induction of the sacred Ark of the Covenant into the city of Jerusalem, thus centralizing Israel’s religion in the king’s new capital.

The record has its background in 2 Samuel 6. David was transporting the ark from Kirjath-jearim to Jerusalem (vv. 1-5). The means of conveyance was on a cart, which, of course, was in violation of divine authority. The law had authorized the transportation of the Ark only on the shoulders of the priests, by means of rods which passed through rings on the side of the chest (Exodus 25:12-14). Uzzah, who apparently was driving the oxen, touched the Ark to steady it when the beasts stumbled. Immediately he was struck dead by the Lord, a divine decision which did not please David (2 Samuel 6:6-8).

The king must have felt some guilt since he had been the one who had initiated this new mode of transportation. Later, however, David acknowledged that he had not sought the Lord according to the divine ordinance (1 Chronicles 15:13). Now here is a very important point that relates to a method of Bible interpretation.

According to the law of Moses, “Jehovah set aside the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant” (Deuteronomy 10:8). Only Levites were authorized to carry the Ark. It is true that there is no passage that specifically forbade the other tribes to transport the sacred chest. The question is, therefore, can one conclude that the silence of Deuteronomy 10:8 was prohibitive?

Many today strongly contend that silence is not prohibitive. Compare, however, Deuteronomy 10:8 with 1 Chronicles 15:2. David said: "None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites, for them has Jehovah chosen to carry the ark. . . " In the light of David’s statement, the silence of Deuteronomy 10:8 was clearly prohibitive.

Thus, underline the phrase, “None ought to carry. . . ,” and in your margin observe: Compare with Deuteronomy 10:8; the silence of the law is prohibitive. Again, see David’s comment about this disobedience in 15:13, “. . . we sought him not according to the ordinance.” David learned the truth about the law of silence. Many in our age need to acknowledge the same.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.