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2 Samuel 6

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Introduction:

With the death of Saul, David is no longer on the run.

He was quickly received as king over his own tribe, Judah.

And when Ishbosheth was assassinated, David was received by the remaining tribes as king over all Israel.
He then wasted no time in setting up his capital in the Jebusite city of Jerusalem.
The Jebusites thought even their blind and lame idols could defend the city.
But David took the city.
And he set up his capital there, calling it the City of David.
It was a great location for his capital city.
It was naturally defended with hills and valleys and had a water system in the case of seige.
Hiram, the king of Tyre supplied wood, and workmen to help build a palace for David.
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Very quickly upon learning of David’s ascension to the throne, the Philistines went up against David.

But David sought the Lord and the LORD told him he would have victory.

So, David went out to meet the Philistines first in Baal Perazim and then in the Valley of Rephaim.
And the Philistines were driven back from Gibeon … the land they had taken in their victory over Saul.
They were driven back to the place they dwelt before.
David and Philistines MAP

We’ve seen the Philistines as part of the biblical narrative for a while now beginning in Judges but most prominently in the histories of Saul and David.

The Philistines were a warlike people who, migrated by sea from the Aegean and arrived on the southern coast of Israel somewhere around the early 12th century B.C.

In Hebrew, they were called Pelishtim and they dwelt in Eretz Pelishtim which is also called Peleshet (Philistia).
Their exact origin is uncertain.
However it is thought that they were displaced by an ethnic upheaval in the Aegean area in the later part of the 13th century B.C.
At that time many peoples on the Greek mainland and in the Aegean Islands as well as eastern Anatolia were given cause to relocate.
Map of Aegean
This great migration of people became a military advance across the eastern Mediterranean.
They brought an end to the Hittite empire in the area of modern day Turkey and ultimately reached the coasts of Phoenicia, Canaan, and Egypt.
In fact, the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses III fought two groups of these migrating peoples … the Tjekker and the Philistines.
His victory over them was carved on the walls of his funerary temple.
After he defeated them, Ramesses settled the Philistines along the southern coast of Canaan.
The Bible uses the term Philistines as early as .
Do not read below:
Genesis 10:14 NKJV
Pathrusim, and Casluhim (from whom came the Philistines and Caphtorim).
Genesis 10
But texts outside of the Bible do not use the term until around 1200 B.C.
But texts outside of the Bible do not use the term until around 1200 B.C.
This likely points to a later editor of the Bible updating the text with the ethnic designation, “Pelishtim” in order to add clarity.
This would apply to other mentions that pre-date the 12th century BC, such as in , ; ; and
When they came into the land of Canaan, they quickly consolidated a claim on the southern coast between Gaza and Tel Aviv.
Map of Israel
There they organized themselves into city-states … 5 city-states.
Map of City-States
A city-state is a city that that with its surrounding territory forms an independent state.
These Philistine city-states were Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron.
All 5 remained significant throughout the history of the Philistines.
It was from this well defended territory that they sought to expand outward putting them into conflict with the Israelites, who were also expanding their territory from the east side of Canaan.
So then there was a fierce rivalry between the two that lasted from the middle of the 12th century B.B. until around 956 B.C. when they were defeated by David.
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The Philistines had superior weaponry … iron, while the Israelites primarily had bronze.

Any iron Israel had came by capture or by trade.

But the Philistines had a monopoly on the technology of iron production putting Israel at a severe disadvantage against them.
Israel had mostly weapons of bronze, which is a much softer metal and cannot stand up against iron.
But our last chapter ended with David breaking the power of the Philistines.
And though the Philistines would continue to resist Israel’s expansion, they would no longer be a major threat to Israel.
And after the reign of David, when Solomon came to the throne, he received tribute from subordinate kingdoms, and that included the city-states of Philistia.
In fact, so weakened in power were the Philistines that when Solomon took an Egyptian wife to ally Israel with Egypt, he was given the city of Gezer, well within what was once Philistine controlled land.
But the Philistines still caused intermittent trouble for Israel even during the times of the Divided Monarchy.
Later on, Philistia came to a defined end at the time of the Babylonian Exile.
It should be noted that the current Palestinians are not Philistines.
They are a mixture of local inhabitants and many other groups of Muslims.
They were brought from Bosnia, the Balkans, and the Caucasus by the Turks in the 16th to 19th centuries; and from the Sudan, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon by the British in the 20th century.
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In our chapter for today … … David brings the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem.

One of the ongoing themes in 1 and 2 Samuel is the history of the ark of the covenant.

One of the themes of the books of Samuel is the history of the ark of the covenant, taken captive by the Philistines, but returned to Israelite territory when it proved to be embarrassingly powerful to humiliate both them and their god (). Not that the decorated gold box was of itself powerful, but everyone knew that it was the symbol of the presence of the Lord God of all the earth, who had made himself known in a special way to Israel, so that they became his people and he pledged himself to be their God. It was unthinkable that the ark should remain in obscurity in a private house on the border of the land, and once Jerusalem had become the city of David the king purposed that Jerusalem should be the city where the Lord was honoured and worshipped. By enshrining the ark, the symbol of God’s presence, there, David transformed the old Jebusite stronghold into the place where the One God was pleased to make himself known, the centre of the earth, the site of his throne, the connecting link between earth and heaven. David’s intention was good, but problems arose in carrying it out. The account is realistic, portraying eager enthusiasm alongside perilous disregard for God’s holiness.
Back in , it was once taken captive by the Philistines, but returned to Israelite territory when it proved to be embarrassingly powerful to humiliate both them and their false god.
And it wasn’t that the decorated box had any power of it’s own.
It was the symbol of the presence of the LORD God.
He had made Himself known in a special way to Israel so that they became His people and He pledged Himself to be their God.
But when the ark was returned, it was mishandled and the LORD struck many dead because of it.
So the people became fearful of the ark and it was brought into the house of Abinadab where his son, Eleazer was consecrated to keep it.
But it was unthinkable that the ark should remain in obscurity in a private house on the border of the land.
So, once David took Jerusalem he determined that Jerusalem should be the city where the Lord is honoured and worshipped.
By enshrining the ark, the symbol of God’s presence, there, David transformed the old Jebusite stronghold.
Instead of the city being defended by blind and lame false gods, it was now the city of the Living God.
Jerusalem was now the place where the One God was pleased to make himself known, the centre of the earth, the site of his throne, the connecting link between earth and heaven.
Instead of the city being defended by blind and lame false gods, it was now the city of the Living God.
But as we will see, while David’s intent was good, problems arose in the execution of the plan.
So, let’s pick up where we left off last week.
We are in 2 Samuel chapter 6.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You for everyone here this evening. Thank You that You know each of us by name and have caused us to walk with You. Lord, we open up Your word desiring to hear from You ... not man's word or wisdom, but Your Words and Wisdom. Please soften our hearts to receive from You.

v1-2

Look at the number of choice men.
By the way “choice men” does not mean “beefcake” … like if there was a calendar of men of Israel, these are the guys that would have been featured.
Choice is בחר Bachar meaning “tested, chosen.”
So, these were men who had been tested and proven in battle.
They were select men of Israel.
But it’s not necessarily the case that these were all military men.
The language and the context suggests a much broader group.
The problem is to know how the word ʾelep is being used in this context, which is no longer strictly military, though soldiers may fulfil a ceremonial role in worship and a strategic victory had just been won.
The problem is to know how the word ʾelep is being used in this context, which is no longer strictly military, though soldiers may fulfil a ceremonial role in worship and a strategic victory had just been won.
In fact, the parallel account in refers to captains of thousands and hundreds as well as tribal leaders.
Also among all the people that went to bring the ark, it includes ‘priests and Levites.’
The parallel account explicitly refers to commanders and leaders, and includes in the company who went to bring the ark ‘priests and Levites’, who must surely have been present (). Even if ‘all the assembly of Israel’ () means only representatives of all the tribes, the occasion still involved large numbers and considerable pageantry, which, together with orchestral and choral music, united the huge crowd taking part in the historic event.
Do not read below:
1 Chronicles 13:1–2 NKJV
Then David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is of the Lord our God, let us send out to our brethren everywhere who are left in all the land of Israel, and with them to the priests and Levites who are in their cities and their common-lands, that they may gather together to us;
AND we know from both accounts that there were a large number of musicians.
So then we can see how these “select” of Israel could reach such a high number as 30,000 … a huge crowd taking part in this historic event.
Even if ‘all the assembly of Israel’ () means only representatives of all the tribes, the occasion still involved large numbers and considerable pageantry, which, together with orchestral and choral music, united the huge crowd taking part in the historic event.
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The ark had been last mentioned in connection with the family of Abinadab, whose son Eleazar had charge of it at Kiriath-jearim.

According to , it remained there for twenty years ().

1 Samuel 7:1–2 NKJV
Then the men of Kirjath Jearim came and took the ark of the Lord, and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the Lord. So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.
1 Samuel 7:2 NKJV
So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.
1 Samuel 7:1–2 NKJV
Then the men of Kirjath Jearim came and took the ark of the Lord, and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the Lord. So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.
That number of 20 years seems low when you take into account the timeline of events from this point to when David brought it to Jerusalem.
It may be that there are other factors to take into account and depending on the commentary you read, you’ll find opinions between 20, 40, and 70 years.
If it is 40 or 70 years, it would mean that at the point that Israel repented under the instruction of Samuel was 20 years.
Then doing the math, it seems most likely to me that the total time the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim was 70 years.
That’s 75 years that the ark had been absent from the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle.
The Philistines captured the Ark when Eli was judge () and then returned it because the Lord sent judgment on them.
The Philistines captured the Ark when Eli was judge () and then returned it to the Jews because the Lord sent judgment on the Philistines.
First the Ark was sent to Beth Shemesh and then was taken to Kiriath Jearim and guarded in the house of Abinadab ().
Samuel Judged Israel for an independent period of 32 years and Saul then was king of Israel for 30 years.
Add to these the 7 years of David ruling in Hebron and the last year of Eli, and the total is 70 years for the Ark to be in Kiriath Jearim.
It is surprising, therefore, to find the name Baale-judah used instead, except that the names are alternatives in , where it is called Baalah (cf. , where the name is Kiriath-baal). The names compounded with Baal suggest that it may have been a Canaanite high place; Kiriath-jearim means ‘city of forests’, a name which would again be appropriate today in the light of the reafforestation that is transforming the landscape to the west of Jerusalem. It is now known as Kuriet el-‘Enab, or Abu Ghosh, about nine miles (14 km) from Jerusalem, on the Jaffa road.
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Now, enough of that.
Take a look at verse 2.

It is surprising to find the name Baale-judah used instead.

But we know that many places went by multiple names.

In it is called Baalah and then later it’s called Kiriath-baal.
Some places were known to Israelites by one name and to Philistines by another.
In fact, the names compounded with Baal suggest that it may have been a Canaanite high place.
Kiriath-jearim means ‘city of forests.’
So, it would seem that at that point it was a forested area much different than we often think of much of the land of Israel.
It was located about nine miles from Jerusalem, as one might head toward Joppa.
Now, turn your attention to the phrase, “To bring up from there the ark of God, whose name is called by the Name, the LORD of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim.”
The phrase serves a few purposes.
One is to avoid the notion that God is located in the ark.
Another is to point out the function that the Lord designed for the ark … that it was the place where He would meet with His people and speak with them.
Exodus 25:22 NKJV
And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.
Exodus 25:22
Now, why did David want the Ark in Jerusalem?
The ark of God, which is called by the name, avoids the notion that God is somehow to be located in the ark, and yet retains the distinctive function which the Lord had designed that it should fulfil as the place where he would meet with his people and speak with them (). The specific name (the word comes twice in the Heb.) connected with the ark, the name of the Lord of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim, envisages the golden cherubim as the footstool of an invisible throne ‘high and lifted up’ (), and the God of the armies of Israel () as supremely worthy of worship. But it is in connection with worship at Shiloh that the name first occurs in the Bible (, ; ), so the ‘hosts’ were supremely the angels who surrounded the throne rather than Israel’s armies. The fact that these angels did God’s bidding meant that they accomplished his will, hence the more meaningful translation ‘the name of the Lord Almighty’ (niv) instead of ‘Lord of hosts’.
Why not move it to the Tabernacle which was at Shiloh?
But it is in connection with worship at Shiloh that the name first occurs in the Bible (, ; ), so the ‘hosts’ were supremely the angels who surrounded the throne rather than Israel’s armies. The fact that these angels did God’s bidding meant that they accomplished his will, hence the more meaningful translation ‘the name of the Lord Almighty’ (niv) instead of ‘Lord of hosts’.
Well, I think that for one thing he wanted to honor the Lord and show that God is King of the nation.
v3-4
But, as we will see in chapter 7, David also had a secret desire in his heart to build a sanctuary for the Lord.
The first step toward that goal would be to place the Ark in the capital city.
David knew that the Lord had promised a central sanctuary back in Deuteronomy.
It was his hope that the Lord would let him build it.
However, the Lord did not allow David to build it, but David did buy the land on which the temple was built.
And he provided the plans and materials needed for its construction ().
Of course, there was probably another reason David wanted the ark in Jerusalem.
One reason he chose Jerusalem as his capital was that it was convenient to much of Israel, thus giving the impression of unity.
But having the ark there and eventually the sanctuary would further unify the people under his government.
And so he made a really big show of it, getting all these people involved.
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However, we might note that there is no mention of David seeking the Lord’s will in the midst of all this.

We know from Deuteronomy that God wanted a central sanctuary, but David did not ask for the Lord’s instructions.

And we will see that the first attempt will go terribly wrong because the Levites didn’t carry the Ark on their shoulders.
God had given specific directions for the moving of the Ark and the Tabernacle.
Using the oxen and cart was more like what the Philistines had done in moving the ark back in .
Perhaps we might remind ourselves by this that God’s work must be done God’s way for it to have God’s blessing.
Let’s read on for the specific details.

v3-5

David and the people had very good intentions.

They had celebrations going with musicians and lots of fanfare.

I’m sure the worship was incredible and there was a lot of enthusiasm for the LORD.
They spared no expense … They even set the Ark on a “new cart.”
says:
1 Chronicles 13:7–8 NKJV
So they carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart. Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets.
1 Chronicles 13:7
They even had Abinadab’s sons, Uzza (meaning strong) and Ahio (meaning brother), both Levites, drive the cart.
But they did not consider the Lord’s instructions about transporting the ark which was fitted with rings and poles to be carried on the shoulders Levites.

The pace of the cart was slow enough to allow for a parade of dancing and singing before the Lord with all their might.

Where it says, “played music,” the Hebrew word speaks of unrestrained celebration in worship.
With such a display, surely God would how His ark is moved.
But pulling it behind on a cart destroyed the picture that was to be painted whenever the ark was moved.
The Levitical Priest was a type or picture of the great Priest Jesus Christ, who would do the heavy lifting of keeping the law.
Jesus had to keep the law in order to be the perfect sacrifice.
The Ark of the Covenant carried within it objects that signified the sin and rebellion of man.
Those things were covered over by the mercy seat.
The act of the Levites carrying the ark was a picture of Christ’s heavy work of fulfilling the law so that we can be saved by grace through faith.
Jesus did that terribly difficult work and it’s on His shoulders that our salvation rests.
Jesus did not casually do the work as is suggested by handing the work over to oxen and a cart to pull behind them.
It also suggests that people can do the work their own way … but salvation is by grace through faith and not by works.
If they had followed God’s instructions for transporting the ark, it would not have needed to be steadied or touched.
It’s interesting that back in , the care of the ark had been committed to Eleazar.
but without due concern for the holiness of the ark, which was fitted with rings and poles to indicate that it was to be carried by the poles (). So transported, it would not have needed to be steadied or touched. The rsv has abbreviated the Hebrew text, relegating to the margin the omitted portions, which appear to have been repeated by mistake. Eleazar, to whose care the ark had been committed (), is not mentioned here. Instead, his brothers Uzzah and Ahio have responsibility for the oxen and the cart, with its special load.
But there is no explanation for his absence … or his being left out.
Interestingly enough, Eleazer means “God has helped.”
By their neglect of God’s plan for the movement of the ark, they
No person can do the work that Jesus has done … it is only by His work that we can be saved.
If we depend on our own works, it’s certain death.

v5

With songs (Heb. bĕšîrîm) is a correction of the Hebrew (from ) which reads bĕrôšîm, ‘fir trees’. The names of musical instruments are understandably difficult to translate; the first two are stringed instruments, of which the second is first mentioned in in the Bible. It may therefore have been of Phoenician origin. All the others are percussion instruments. It is interesting to observe that the last, cymbals, always occurs in a religious context. For Israel, all life’s great occasions were God-centred and connected with worship, and the same was true of Israel’s music.

The slow pace of the cart permitted the procession to engage in dancing and singing before the Lord with all their might. The participle making merry (Heb. mĕśaḥăqîm, from the verb with which ‘Isaac’ is connected, and which means ‘to laugh’) has the force of unrestrained celebration in worship.
Where it says, “played music,” the Hebrew word speaks of unrestrained celebration in worship.
With such a display, surely God would how His ark is moved.
The participle making merry (Heb. mĕśaḥăqîm, from the verb with which ‘Isaac’ is connected, and which means ‘to laugh’) has the force of unrestrained celebration in worship.
With songs (Heb. bĕšîrîm) is a correction of the Hebrew (from ) which reads bĕrôšîm, ‘fir trees’. The names of musical instruments are understandably difficult to translate; the first two are stringed instruments, of which the second is first mentioned in in the Bible. It may therefore have been of Phoenician origin. All the others are percussion instruments. It is interesting to observe that the last, cymbals, always occurs in a religious context. For Israel, all life’s great occasions were God-centred and connected with worship, and the same was true of Israel’s music.

v6-7

The joyous celebration came to a tragic end at the threshing floor of Nacon.

The NKJV makes it appear that the threshing floor belonged to a man named Nachon, but this is not certain.

It was probably more of a place name which meant, “Prepared Threshing Floor” or perhaps “Threshing Floor of Preparation.”
In , it uses Chidon a word that means hunting knife.
It could be that in one instance it’s a place name and in another instance it’s giving the name of the owner.
Or it could be that it’s another case where one place went by multiple names.
Another idea is that it was named after this incident.
Nachon is a form of the verb נכה Nakah which means “to strike.”
In fact that’s the verb used in verse 7 where it speaks of God striking Uzzah.
So then, the name may have been coined to encapsulate memories of the disaster, which made quite an impression among a large number of people who would have seen it.
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We might feel bad for Uzzah because his touching of the ark was not a purposeful thing but a spontaneous action.

He was trying to prevent it from falling to the ground.

Yet he was still subject to the penalty of having touched the ark.
In so far as David had decreed how the ark was to be transported, he was responsible for Uzzah’s death.
God had warned about this in the Law of Moses, and every Israelite surely knew of it
Be Restored 5. David Relocated the Holy Ark (2 Sam. 6:1–23; 1 Chron. 13:1–13; 15:1–16:3)

God had warned about this in the Law of Moses, and every Israelite surely knew of it

In so far as David had decreed how the ark was to be transported, he was responsible for Uzzah’s death.
But some blame must have attached to Uzzah and Ahio, whose family had for years been in charge of the ark.
From David’s point of view, the death of Uzzah under these circumstances was not only a tragedy for the family of Abinadab, but also a terrible mar on the beginning of his rule.
From God’s point of view, He had warned about this in the Law of Moses, and every Israelite surely knew of it.
God was reminding His people that they were not to imitate the other nations when serving Him.
What they must do is heed His Word.
Let’s look at David’s reaction in the next few verses.

v8-11

David, for whom everything had been going so well, became angry at the Lord.

And he had his own special name for this place … Perez Uzzah, which means, “[The Lord’s] Outburst against Uzzah.”

So, David in his humiliation blamed God for the incident and opted out of the task of taking the ark on to Jerusalem.
This was partly out of humiliation and partly because he was afraid of the Lord.
David had experienced the protection of the Lord over the years.
He had experienced a closeness to the Lord that few had.
David needed to come to terms with the fact that he had overstepped, and made presumptions.
He had failed to observe God’s instructions.
Though Jesus taught us to call God our Father, He also taught us to pray ‘hallowed be thy name’.
This implies the need to pay careful attention to God’s Word, unless privilege becomes presumption.
And if such a symbol of God’s great plan of salvation required such reverence … what about Christ’s actual work of salvation on our behalf?
As we recently read in Hebrews:
Hebrews 2:3 NKJV
how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,
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As A. F. Kirkpatrick observes, ‘If such reverence was due to the symbol, with how much greater reverence should the realities of the Christian Covenant be regarded?’
Obed-edom the Gittite: Gittite means ‘from Gath’, but Obed-edom is unlikely to have been a Philistine from the city of that name, and was probably a Levite, in view of his being entrusted with the ark. At least three Israelite towns had names compounded with Gath, from one of which this man originally came. Possibly he should be identified as the descendant of Korah, named in , . Over a period of three months, people observed that this man and his household received signs of God’s favour: the Lord blessed him.

So, the ark remained in the house of Obed-Edom, the Gittite.

Gittite means ‘from Gath.’

But Obed-edom is unlikely to have been a Philistine from Gath, and was probably a Levite, in view of his being entrusted with the ark.
At least three Israelite towns had names that contained a compound of Gath.
It was probably from one these towns that this man originally came … probably Gath-Rimmon, a Levite town.
It could be that he is the descendant of Korah that is named in , .
Over the next 3 months, people observed that this man and his household were being blessed by God.

v12-15

When David heard that the presence of the Ark was bringing blessing to the household of Obed-Edom, he wanted that blessing for himself and his people.

According to , David prepared a tent for the ark of God in Jerusalem.
News that Obed-edom had experienced the Lord’s blessing caused David to fulfil his intention to bring the ark into Jerusalem.
1 Chronicles gives much more detail about the 10 mile trip to bring the ark to Jerusalem.
Before moving the ark, David spoke to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests and the Levites, Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab.
News that Obed-edom had experienced the Lord’s blessing caused David to fulfil his intention to bring the ark into Jerusalem. Those who bore the ark implies that this time men carried the ark in the prescribed way, by its poles, but even so, after only six paces had been taken, David offered sacrifices. adds considerable detail, explaining that this time ‘Levites carried the ark of God upon their shoulders with the poles’ (; cf. ), and indicating that the Levites sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams because God helped them (). David’s sacrifices also will have been part thanksgiving for a good start on the journey, and part prayer for its safe completion.
He said to them:
1 Chronicles 15:13 NKJV
For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.”
1 Chronicles 15:13
This time, David was going to heed God’s instructions.
Back in , where it says, “When those bearing the ark of the Lord” … it implies that this time men carried the ark as God’s Word instructed.
And in says:
1 Chronicles 15:15 NKJV
And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.
And as they moved forward, after only 6 paces, David offered sacrifices.
Those who bore the ark implies that this time men carried the ark in the prescribed way, by its poles, but even so, after only six paces had been taken, David offered sacrifices. adds considerable detail, explaining that this time ‘Levites carried the ark of God upon their shoulders with the poles’ (; cf. ), and indicating that the Levites sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams because God helped them (). David’s sacrifices also will have been part thanksgiving for a good start on the journey, and part prayer for its safe completion.
Those who bore the ark implies that this time men carried the ark in the prescribed way, by its poles, but even so, after only six paces had been taken, David offered sacrifices. adds considerable detail, explaining that this time ‘Levites carried the ark of God upon their shoulders with the poles’ (; cf. ), and indicating that the Levites sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams because God helped them (). David’s sacrifices also will have been part thanksgiving for a good start on the journey, and part prayer for its safe completion.
further reveals that the Levites sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams because God helped them ().
adds considerable detail, explaining that this time ‘Levites carried the ark of God upon their shoulders with the poles’ (; cf. ), and indicating that the Levites sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams because God helped them (). David’s sacrifices also will have been part thanksgiving for a good start on the journey, and part prayer for its safe completion.
David wore a robe of fine linen along with all the Levites and he also wore a linen ephod.
David expressed no less enthusiasm than on the former occasion (v. 5), but now he had learnt that sincerity and enthusiasm were not enough.
He had also paid attention to the ritual requirements which God’s law had laid down.
And there was a grand procession with shouting and trumpets blasting … and David danced before the Lord with all his might.
David expressed no less enthusiasm than before, but now he had learned that sincerity and enthusiasm were not enough.
He had also paid attention to the ritual requirements which God’s law had laid down.
Later, his wife, Michal, accused him of shamelessly exposing himself.
But it wasn’t that he was naked or barely dressed … he was wearing a royal robe and an ephod.
Though he was not from the tribe of Levi, David was acting as both king and priest.
He was a picture of Jesus, who holds both offices “after the order of Melchizedek” as Hebrews will say from chapter 6-8.
In the days of Abraham, Melchizedek was the king and priest of Salem (), and now David was worshiping as king and priest of Jerusalem.
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David expressed no less enthusiasm than on the former occasion (v. 5), but now he had learnt that sincerity and enthusiasm were not enough. He had also paid attention to the ritual requirements which God’s law had laid down. He had even replaced his royal robes by a linen ephod, the priestly dress, which as king of a kingdom of priests he was entitled to wear, and which was particularly appropriate for the festal ceremony. Similarly, the shouting was part of the ritual (cf. ), and was associated with religious fervour as well as with battle cries. So was the horn (Heb. šôpār), as (a psalm which probably recalls this procession with the ark) illustrates, ‘God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet (šôpār).’
I should mention that there is no New Testament evidence that dancing as a form of worship was used in the Jewish synagogue or the early church.
He had also paid attention to the ritual requirements which God’s law had laid down.
There is no New Testament evidence that dancing as a “worship art form” was used either in the Jewish synagogue or the liturgy of the early church. The Greeks introduced dancing into worship in the post-Apostolic church, but the practice led to serious moral problems and was finally banned. It was difficult for congregations to distinguish between “Christian dances” and dances honoring a pagan god or goddess, so the church abandoned the practice and later church fathers condemned it.
The Greeks introduced dancing into worship in the church after the age of the Apostles.
But it led to serious moral problems and was finally banned.
He had even replaced his royal robes by a linen ephod, the priestly dress, which as king of a kingdom of priests he was entitled to wear, and which was particularly appropriate for the festal ceremony.
The problem was that it was difficult for congregations to distinguish between “Christian dances” and dances honoring a pagan god or goddess.
So, the church abandoned the practice.
Later church fathers actually condemned it.
v16
Similarly, the shouting was part of the ritual (cf. ), and was associated with religious fervour as well as with battle cries.
So was the horn (Heb. šôpār), as (a psalm which probably recalls this procession with the ark) illustrates, ‘God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet (šôpār).’

v16

At the moment of David’s triumph, when the ark had successfully entered Jerusalem, his wife Michal took exception to all this religious excitement and display.
She despised him for the very quality that made him great, … his devotion to the Lord.
As it was, she despised him for the very qualities that made him great, namely devotion to the Lord and spontaneity in worship.

v17-19

When they made it to the city, they headed for the tent that David had prepared for the ark.

The Tabernacle stayed at Gibeon.

According to , it was not until after Solomon had built the temple that the Tabernacle and all it’s furnishings was brought to Jerusalem.
The tent David prepared wasn’t the Tabernacle and it wasn’t the Temple.
But it was where the Lord was pleased to make himself known.
but from this point onwards in David’s reign the presence of the ark of the covenant in Jerusalem ensured that here was the place par excellence where worship should be offered, because this was where the Lord was pleased to make himself known. David responded with burnt offerings and peace offerings, which expressed total commitment and thanskgiving; the peace offerings, or ‘fellowship offerings’ (niv), unlike the burnt offering, were not consumed on the altar, or used to provide food for the priests; instead most was returned to the offerer (), who used the meat for a communal feast as part of the rejoicing. David also blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, claiming for them the blessings which the Lord had pronounced on his covenant people (e.g. ; ), before distributing food to all.
David responded with burnt offerings and peace offerings.
This expressed total commitment and thanksgiving.
But it also blessed the people of Israel.

The peace offerings (also called ‘fellowship offerings’) were not burned on the altar like the burnt offering, or used to provide food for the priests.

instead instructed that most was returned to the offerer, who used the meat for a communal feast as part of the rejoicing.
So, in his peace offerings to the LORD, David also blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, and distributed the food to all.
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Now, look with me to verse 19.
There are some unusual words here.
Hallach Lechem is “cake of bread.”
It’s used elsewhere only in sacrificial contexts.
A cake of bread (Heb. ḥallat leḥem) is used elsewhere only in sacrificial contexts of the Pentateuch (e.g. ; ; ); it means a flat loaf of bread. A portion of meat (Heb. ʾešpar) occurs elsewhere only in , and the meaning of the word is totally unknown, hence the variant translations, e.g. ‘a portion of dates’ (jb), ‘a cake of dates’ (niv), based on the food usually carried by the Eastern traveller. A cake of raisins, mentioned in connection with Canaanite worship two centuries later (), was nevertheless staple food; ‘flagon of wine’ (av) is no longer considered to be the meaning of this term.
It is a flat loaf of bread.
Eshpar … A piece of meat is only used in one other place - that is the parallel passage in .
The meaning of the word is totally unknown.
And so between translations there is a variety of differences.
Sometimes it’s “a cake of dates” and other places it’s “a piece of meat.”
It seems most likely that it should be “a cake of dates.”
But the peace offering of also involved a meat offering.
Ashishah is “Raisin Cake.”
Raisin cakes are mentioned in connection with Canaanite worship two centuries later in .
That being said, raisin cakes were a staple food … easy to keep and to carry.
Hosea 3:1 NKJV
Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.”
This blessing of the people by a peace offering is another priestly act and a reminder of the ministry of Jesus Christ.

v20

David returned to his home.

He was full of joy.

And he was excited at the prospect of God’s future blessing of his family and city.
But when he arrived home, he was greeted by his disapproving wife.
She opened up with sarcasm, “How glorious was the king of Israel today.”
And she followed that with condemnation.
She preferred his warrior image to that of a humble, worshipping king.
It wasn’t that David was naked … it was that he was stripped of all his royal robes and jewelry.
As David is in many ways a foreshadowing of Christ, we might make the following observation:
She preferred the ‘brave warrior’ image to that of the humble, worshipping king, stripped of all his royal regalia, and, as she saw it, uncovering himself, or maybe ‘showing off’.
Today, some people harp on the warrior-king image of Christ because they prefer that over the Humble, Suffering Servant.
Others forget that Jesus will return as a warrior.
Jesus is both and a proper understanding of Who Christ is keeps both of those things in view.

As for Michal … she had a difficult life after David fled from Saul.

She had been forced into another marriage by her father, though she loved David.
And we are spared the details of how difficult that might have been.
The David she knew the first time had been tried and tested and came back both a warrior and a worshipper.
So, we might understand at least a bit how she is confused.
And now her outburst at David has put an end to the reconciliation.
v21-23

David in his reply did not mince his words.

He referred to her father and family … surely a sore spot.

He reminded Michal that the Lord had chosen him to replace her father as king and that he would do what the Lord prompted him to do.
In other words, David didn’t need the spiritual counsel of Saul’s daughter.
The election promise of , precious to David and the people of Israel, and a source of conflict for Michal, is echoed here. She could not ‘win’ the argument, because she could not accept the divine purpose, which the maids (i.e. ‘maidservants’) joyously celebrated. Like her father before her, she found herself working against God. David in no way regrets what he has done; I will be abased in your eyes, while it makes good sense, is not what the Hebrew says. It has ‘in my eyes’, indicating that David is more concerned to honour the Lord than to foster his own reputation, for he does not need to boost his own ego, nor does he lack popular support.
Like her father before her, she found herself working against God.
David in no way regrets what he has done.
His statement, “I will be even more undignified than this” does not mean he was going to act the fool.
It doesn’t mean he would bark like a dog or cluck like a chicken or roll about on the floor as a pretense of worshipping God.
Rather, David means that he is more concerned to honour the Lord than to foster his own reputation.
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The chapter closes with the statement that Michal had no children to the day of her death.

Her childlessness implies that from this point on marital relations between her and David came to an end.

The relationship between them had irrevocably broken down.
Others have said that her childless condition was an act of God.
The two ideas, however, don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
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The installation of the ark in Jerusalem was the first great achievement of David’s reign after the capture of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem was now the city of the Lord of hosts.

It was sanctified by his presence and protected by his power, though not unconditionally, as later generations were to discover.
There has been a lot made of this being a political move by David … bringing the ark and all it stood for into his capital.
But devotion to God is not essentially opposed to prosperity in national and international affairs.
In fact, the book of Proverbs says a lot that the first and most important requirement for rulers and government is the fear of the Lord.
Saul failed at this point.
And David, on the other hand, put the Lord first.
Prayer: Lord Father we thank You for this time we’ve had together studying Your Word and we ask that You would make it fertile in our lives to do what You desire. Thank You for loving us so much and may Your desires be the desires of our hearts.
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