The Word Made Fresh
1David summoned thirty thousand influential men from all over Israel. 2They went together to Baale-Judah to bring the covenant chest of God. God’s throne was between the cherubim on the lid. 3They carried it on a new cart out of the house of Abinadab on a hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart 4carrying the chest, and Ahio was walking in front of it. 5David and the elders were dancing and celebrating before the LORD with all they were worth. They sang songs and played lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.
6When they came to the threshing floor that belonged to Nacon, Uzzah reached out to steady the chest that was shaking on the oxcart 7and the LORD’s anger struck out at him for touching the chest, and he died there. 8David was angry because the LORD had struck out at Uzzah; that place is known as Perez-Uzzah.
9Then David was afraid of the LORD because of it and wondered how he could bring the chest with him. 10He was afraid to take the chest of the LORD into the City of David, so he left it at the home of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11The LORD’s chest remained there for three months, and the LORD rewarded Obed-Edom and his whole family.
12David heard that Obed-Edom had been rewarded because of the presence of the covenant chest, so he returned there, and joyfully had it brought up to the City of David. 13When the bearers had brought it six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened sheep, 14and danced wildly before the LORD, wearing a ritual linen vest. 15So, the covenant chest was brought up with David and all the Israelites celebrating and with trumpets blaring.
16As they entered the City of David, David’s wife Michal, daughter of Saul, watched from a window, and saw him jumping around and dancing before the LORD, and she had nothing but contempt for him.
17They brought up the covenant chest of the LORD and placed it in the tent David had put up to house it, and he offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. 18Then he blessed the people in the name of the LORD, the Almighty. 19He gave every person there, men and women, a loaf of bread, a cut of meat and a raisin cake. Then all the people returned to their homes.
20When David returned to his house to reward his family, Michal came out to meet him. “How the king distinguished himself today, exposing himself to all the slave girls like some male prostitute,” she scolded.
21“Yes,” David said, “In the presence of the LORD who chose me over your father and everyone else in your family and made me king over the LORD’s people Israel, I have celebrated today. 22And I will expose myself until I am humiliated in my own eyes. But these girls you mentioned — they will hold me in honor!”
23And Michal the daughter of Saul never bore a single child.
1-5: David’s second major decision as king is to establish Jerusalem as the religious center of the country by relocating the Ark of the Covenant there. The ark had been captured by the Philistines who then returned it because of a plague (see I Samuel 4). He could have sent someone to fetch it, but instead makes it a huge undertaking involving 30,000 elders because he wants the whole country to know what he’s doing. Without “inquiring of the LORD,” a great parade is organized, with David leading it, dancing like mad. The music must have been heard for miles.
6-11: But the LORD is not willing to cooperate, and one of the priests, Uzzah, is struck dead when he touches the ark. No explanation is offered as to how this happens exactly, but the effect of it is that David is humbled, at least for the moment, and realizes that maybe the LORD isn’t going to be quite so easily assimilated into his grand plans. The ark is left with Obed-Edom, and Obed-Edom prospers for it.
12-15: But when David hears that all is well with Obed-Edom, he decides to try again, this time without the 30,000 elders apparently, but still with some festivity. He is careful to begin this second attempt by offering sacrifices to God after the bearers had taken six steps — a reminder, perhaps, of the six days of creation followed by the seventh day which is a sabbath to the LORD. Note also that David is wearing the signs of the priestly office (although some ancient commentators thought the vest was all he was wearing, which would help explain Michal’s reaction to the show). The confusion of military, administrative, and religious duties come into conflict every now and then in these historical accounts of the era of kings, usually with bad results. Still, David seems determined to have a relationship with God, and that bodes well for him. He will come to be called “a man after God’s own heart.”
16-19: Michal, David’s wife and Saul’s daughter, is disgusted by David’s public display as the ark comes into the city. It certainly is not the kind of thing her father would have done. After sacrifices and offerings are made, David distributes food to every attendee — bread, meat, and raisins. You’d vote for him, wouldn’t you?
20-23: Back at home, though, things are not going so well. Michal is jealous at David’s wild behavior, accusing him of exposing himself to the ladies. David retorts that he was exposing himself for God, who had made him king in place of her father. Apparently they have different bedrooms after that.
I don’t recommend exposing yourself even if you are the king, but are you willing to risk being embarrassed for showing your allegiance to the God who gave you birth? Holding hands around the table and offering a grace before the meal in a crowded restaurant, perhaps? Shying away from participating in a questionable activity and letting it be known that your faith in God just won’t allow you to go along? Can you think of other examples?