Our reading today begins with the retrieval of the Ark from Kiriath-Jearim (see 1 Sam 6:1-7:2 for how it got there). We see that this account of the Ark coming from Kiriath-Jearim and winding up in the house of Obed-edom differs from the account given in 2 Samuel 6:1-11 at a couple of points. First, the Chronicler records David’s decision to get the Ark and his call to all of Israel (13:1-2). He wants to point out how David was the one that called Israel back to God. Remember, the Ark of God represented the very presence of God. For Saul’s entire reign, the Ark was in Kiriath-Jearim, and is mentioned only once (1 Sam 14:18).
In 1 Chronicles 13:3, the “we did not seek it” can also be translated as “we did not seek Him.” Either way, the writer is pointing us to the fact that, as opposed to Saul, David turned all of Israel to seek God (vv. 3-4). We also see in this account the unity of Israel, including their king. The writer wants the returning exiles to strive for that same unity with each other.
Notice also that following the story of the death of Uzzah, the Chronicler does not here talk about the Ark actually coming to Jerusalem. He will save that for chapter 15, where we will see more detail than we do in 2 Samuel that will point further to David restoring the proper worship of God at the start of his reign. The writer is placing a focus on the God-centeredness of David’s reign.
Psalm 139 shows David’s understanding of Who God is. It is also one of my favorite Psalms. There is nothing here that is necessarily unique to David. We can all pray this. And we should. It is also a deeply theological Psalm, extolling God’s glorious attributes.
God is omniscient. God knows everything, including everything about David (139:1). The “search” means to examine or analyze. This is talking about God knowing David’s heart. But God also knows all of David’s deeds, and David’s thoughts (v. 2). The “search” in verse 3 is a different word – it is the only time in the whole Bible this word is used. It means to measure something out. God plans – He measures out – what David will do before he does it! He does the same for what David says (v. 4). David is preserved only by God’s power (v. 5). God is omniscient, He is sovereign, He is all powerful. David couldn’t fully understand it all (v. 6) and neither can we!
God is omnipresent (vv. 7-12). His Holy Spirit is with His people wherever they go (vv. 7-8). But God is not just with His people, He is for His people. He is there to guide and preserve His saints (vv. 9-10). In the darkest times of our lives, God is with us, and God has a good purpose (vv. 11-12).
God is creator. His creative power was not exhausted in the six days of creation. God sovereignly forms each of us in the womb (v. 13), not just body, but soul (v. 14). But God did not begin to know David – or any of us – when we began our life in the womb. He knew us before we ever were (v. 16). He knew everything about us and set the course of our lives. This is not, to David, a violation of his will, but a guarantee of God’s goodness to him (vv. 17-18).
God is judge. David prays to the just Judge that He would judge justly (v. 19). But unlike in other Psalms, David is not concerned with those who hate him, he is concerned with God’s enemies (v. 20). It is God’s enemies who are David’s true enemies (vv. 21-22). David then ends where he began. He knows God knows him. So David prays that God would continue to search – to examine – his heart and mind (v. 23). He wants God to reveal to him any sin and set him back on the right path (v. 24).
God made David for a purpose. And He made us for a purpose. May we, like David, be ever prayerful that God would reveal our sin to us and set our feet on solid ground. May we, like David, never cease to praise God for Who He is.