David becomes king, defeats the Philistines twice, takes Jerusalem, and tries to bring the Ark to Jerusalem: 2 Samuel 5–6; 1 Chronicles 11–14 (with passages sorted into chronological order – see Note)
The Ark of the Covenant stayed in a few places in Philistine and Israelite territory. You would expect God’s presence to be a blessing, but it wasn’t for everyone.
The Philistines had it for a while in a temple in Ashdod after capturing the Ark in battle, but with the result that their idol, Dagon, fell over, with his hands and feet breaking off. The people of Ashdod suffered a plague of tumours, so the Ark was sent to the Philistine city of Gath:
1 Samuel 5:9 But when the Ark arrived at Gath, the Lord’s heavy hand fell on its men, young and old; he struck them with a plague of tumors, and there was a great panic.
… and then to Ekron, with the same result.
Eventually, it was returned to Israel, but there was no effect: no blessing and no curse. The Israelites worshipped more than a few other gods, and the true God stayed silent.
On gaining the throne, David tried to move the Ark to Jerusalem but he hadn’t followed the Levitical rules for moving it, and someone died as a result (the second attempt was more successful). Too afraid to move the Ark further, David left it in the house of Obed-edom:
1 Chronicles 13:14 The Ark of God remained there in Obed-edom’s house for three months, and the Lord blessed the household of Obed-edom and everything he owned.
For believers, the presence of God was a blessing. For those opposed to God, it wasn’t.
Here’s the scriptures covered in this section, broken up and recast into chronological order:
2 Samuel 5:1–3; 1 Chronicles 11:1–3; 1 Chronicles 12:23–40; 2 Samuel 5:17–25; 1 Chronicles 14:8–17; 2 Samuel 5:6–10; 1 Chronicles 11:4–9; 1 Chronicles 3:4; 2 Samuel 5:13; 2 Samuel 5:4–5; 2 Samuel 5:11–12; 1 Chronicles 14:1–2; 1 Chronicles 13:1–5; 2 Samuel 6:1–11; 1 Chronicles 13:6–14