Who was allowed to carry the Ark of the Covenant?
The Ark of the Covenant is a box made out of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. It contained three items: a stone tablet copy of the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s staff that had butted, and a jar of manna. All of these are testaments of how the Lord has provided for Israel in the wilderness.
Because the Ark of the Covenant was a religious item that was placed in the tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalem, only the priests could carry it. It was placed in the Holy of Holies, the innermost room in the Temple, considered the most holy because God’s presence came down into the Temple in that place specifically.
God’s presence rested on the Ark of the Covenant and the Israelites sometimes took advantage of it. They treated it more like an idol than a testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness to them. They took it into battle regularly and it traveled with King David.
In one instance, the Israelites took it into battle hoping it would give them the win against the Philistines (1 Samuel 4). But because God was angry with them for using it like a superstition, he allowed it to be captured by the Philistines. When they took it back to their land, they placed it in the same place as their idol.
They continued to find the idol bowed down on the ground toward it and broken. This showed God’s power over that idol. The Philistines also found that they were covered and boils. This sickness showed them that the Ark of the Covenant didn’t belong to them.
It wasn’t a mere addition to their idols. Because it contained the testimony of God, it also carried his presence. David also found that there was a certain way to take care of the Ark of the Covenant. When he tried to carry it the wrong way with the wrong people, a person died because he touched it (2 Samuel 6:6-7). This shows that not just anyone could transport the Ark of the Covenant.
David went back into the laws of Moses and discovered that only the priests could carry the Ark of the Covenant. When he went back and did it the right way, he could transport it to Israel where he wanted to take it.