2 Samuel 6 (NRSV)
David Brings the Ark to Jerusalem
David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim.
The Ark of the Covenant had been built, according to God’s directions, for the tabernacle when the people of Israel were at Mount Sinai with Moses. It was a box about 4 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet (-ish), made of wood and covered with gold. The top of the ark had two angels of beaten gold, their wings uplifted. Inside the ark were Israel’s treasures: the tablets of the 10 Commandments, Aaron’s rod which had budded, and a container of manna.
The last mention of the ark of God was when it came back from the land of the Philistines in 1 Samuel 7:1. It sat at the house of Abinadab for some 70 years. David had a great motive: to emphasize the presence and glory of God in Israel.
3They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill.
God had given clear instructions on how the ark should be transported. It was to be carried by four priests, Levites of the family of Kohath (Numbers 4:15), who touched the poles and not the ark, as in the picture above. Carrying the ark on a cart, as the Philistines had done, was disobedience to the Lord.
Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart 4with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. 5David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.
Thoughts on “the new cart” —
“We want God’s presence very much, don’t we? But we like to hitch His presence to some of our new carts. We like to add Him to our list of organizations, to load Him on top of the mechanics of a busy life, and then drive. How much of our service is really in the energy of the flesh, I wonder! So often we put forth our hands, but not our hearts.”
–Alan Redpath (1907-1989)
“It is not new things we need, but new fire.”
–John Wesley (1703-1791)
6When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. 7The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there because he reached out his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God.
Numbers 4:15 (NIV)
But they must not touch the holy things or they will die.
from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael
The judgment of God on what seemed a trivial fault was a flashing forth of His thought about all unspiritual service. For that is what the service of Uzzah was; and not his only, but David’s too, and that of all who set the ark of God upon a cart. God had said that the ark was not to be put on a cart, but it was to be carried on men’s shoulders.
The cart was a Philistine expedient (1 Samuel 6:7-8). It has been truly said that the Church is full of Philistine ways of doing service to Christ. But those ways are not acceptable to God. The Uzzah story tells us so.
Let us follow His wishes in every smallest detail, unconfused by the voices and customs around us.
8David was angry because the Lord had burst forth with an outburst upon Uzzah; so that place is called Perez-uzzah, to this day.
9David was afraid of the Lord that day; he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come into my care?” 10So David was unwilling to take the ark of the Lord into his care in the city of David; instead David took it to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months; and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.
In 1 Chronicles 26:4 we learn that Obed-edom was a Levite of the family of Korah. David has evidently done his research and is now in obedience with God’s instructions.
12It was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; 13and when those who bore the ark of the Lord
No word of a cart! David explained to the priests why God struck out against them in their first attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem in 1 Chronicles 15:13: 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.
had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. 14David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod.
Was he dancing in his underwear?! Probably not. An ephod was a linen garment worn by the priests. It could be that David removed his royal robes to praise and celebrate more freely.
15So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.
HERE is The Oslo Gospel Choir and “Bless the Lord.” David would sing and dance right along with them!
16As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.
17They brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the Lord. 18When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, 19and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.
20David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ maids, as any vulgar fellow might shamelessly uncover himself!”
Don’t you hate it when someone rains on your parade?
21David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me in place of your father and all his household, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord, that I have danced before the Lord. 22I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in my own eyes; but by the maids of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.”
23And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.
David isn’t bothered. He knew his heart was right with the Lord. And he had plenty of other wives and concubines for his royal bed.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.