That the ark must have been in the house of Abinadab far more than 20 years is clear, since it was brought there before the reign of Saul began (1 Samuel 7:1-2; 10:24-26), and remained there until the early years of David’s reign (2 Samuel 6:3).
The question we need to ask is this: are the 20 years of 1 Samuel 7:2 the duration the ark remained in the house of Abinadab, or does this time mark something else? Let’s set the verse into context:
- The ark is brought to the house of Abinadab, and given into the charge of his son Eleazar.
- The ark was in the house of Abinadab for 20 years, through which the people of Israel lamented. The 20 years is not mentioned as the total time the ark was there, but the total time for the people lamenting before they returned to the LORD.
- Samuel challenged the people to put away their foreign gods and to return to the LORD.
- They heeded the words of Samuel, and returned to the LORD.
There is a 20 year period, but it is about the lamenting of the people, not the ark’s stay in the house of Abinadab. There is no contradiction.
A response to 1001 Bible Contradictions.