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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 6

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-11

Commentary on Second Samuel - Chapter 6 cross-referenced with First Chronicles - Chapter 13, 15, 16

AUTHOR’S NOTE: First Chronicles, chapter 13:1-5, contains information pertinent to the subject of the ark’s removal found only in Chronicles, so it is considered in connection with the material found in II Samuel, chapter 6.

Plans to Move the Ark, 1 Chronicles 13:1-5

Not only did David have plans for making Jerusalem the center of government for his kingdom, but also the center of worship of God. The tabernacle had been erected in Shiloh during the early days of the Canaanite conquest (Joshua 18:1) and was still there when the ark was captured by the Philistines in the days of Eli (1 Samuel 4:11). After the ark’s sojourn in the country of the Philistines for seven months (1 Samuel 6:1), during which time the Lord severely plagued the Philistines (1Sa, chap. 5), they returned it to Israel (1 Samuel 6:10 ff). It was eventually removed and set up in the house of Abinadab at Kiriath­jearim (1 Samuel 6:21; 1 Samuel 7:1).

David now consulted with the great men of Israel, captains and leaders, about the removal of the ark to Jerusalem. He proposed that they invite to Jerusalem all the people of Israel, with the scattered priests and Levites in their appointed cities, to plan for the removal of the ark. This would be a move to unite the people in their worship and to restore the ark, the symbol of God’s presence in Israel, to its proper respect among them. For the many years of Saul’s reign the ark had been all but forgotten and neglected by the people.

The people agreed with David to make this move to restore the ark. To them it seemed, with David, the right thing to do, so all Israel began to gather for the great occasion. The people came from as far south as Shihor and from as far north as the road to Hemath (usually Hamath). Shihor is one of the names given the Nile in Egypt, but probably refers here to a smaller stream on the road to Egypt. Hamath was a city of upper Syria, about half the distance from Damascus to Antioch. The entering in of Hamath refers to the road in the far north of Israel which led on to the city of Hamath.

First Attempt Frustrated,

2 Samuel 6:1-11 1 Chronicles 13:6-14

The Samuel account begins with the endeavor of David to bring the ark to Jerusalem without giving the preliminaries found in First Chronicles. Baale (or Baalah) was in the tribe of Judah, and was the Canaanite name of Kirjath-jearim. The ark had been kept in the house of Abinadab many years (1 Samuel 7:2). Its significance is emphasized, in that it was called by the name of the Lord, and actually represented the presence of the Lord in Israel, on the mercy seat, between the cherubim on the lid of the ark of the covenant.

The ark is also represented as being brought from the house of Abinadab in Gibeah. The word means "hill", and the translators should have rendered it "hill". Abinadab’s house was on a hill in Kirjath-jearim. They built a new cart on which to move it. This is the method by which it had been returned to them decades before by the Philistines. Someone seems to have felt that since it was so carried by the Philistines (1 Samuel 6:7 ff), it would be all right for the Israelites to move it that way also. Abinadab’s two sons, Uzza and Ahio drove the new cart as they conveyed it toward Jerusalem.

Everyone was happy, the air was filled with the joyful sounds of music from the harps, psalteries, timbrels, cornets, cymbals, and trumpets. They had not gone far, however, before the rejoicing was turned to sorrow by a tragedy due to their own carelessness and disregard of the Lord’s way. At the threshingfloor of Nachon (or Chidon); (It is not now possible to tell why two names are given in the two accounts. One may refer to the name of the owner of the threshing floor and the other to the name of the place itself before David changed it).

Here at the threshingfloor the oxen stumbled, and the ark was about to fall off. Uzza reached out to steady it on the ark and prevent its falling and possibly being broken. For touching the ark the Lord’s anger was kindled against Uzza, and He struck him dead there beside the ark. The Lord had long before instructed the Israelites how to convey the ark, on the shoulders of the anointed priests. It was to be carried in no other way, nor by any other ones (Numbers 4:15). Not only was it not to be carried on a cart, but Uzza and Ahio were not the proper people to convey it. These were things all the people of Israel should have remembered, and especially the Levites and David.

But David was highly displeased because the Lord had smitten Uzza, and renamed the place Perez-uzza ("the breach on Uzza"). The record says that David was afraid of God and began to wonder how he could bring the ark to him. When one fears the Lord it sets him to reasoning, and very soon his fear will become respect, whereby he will be able to honor the Lord in his deeds (Proverbs 1:7). So David halted his attempt to move the ark to Jerusalem and had it moved into the house of Obed-edom, a Levite, called "the Gittite," probably because he was born in Gath. Here the ark remained for three months, during which time the Lord blessed the house of Obed-edom.

Verses 12-19

Successful Removal of the Ark,

2 Samuel 6:12-19 AND 1 Chronicles 15:29

David received word that special blessings were coming to the house of Obed-edom because of the presence of the ark there. This led him to consider again its removal to Jerusalem. But this time he had learned his lesson and knew what the Lord required in the handling of the ark. So he gathered the Levites and people again and proceeded to bring it to Jerusalem. See the following commentary on First Chronicles, chapter 15, for the manner in which correct planning for the ark’s removal was carried out.

Once again the removal of the ark, from the house of Obed­edom to Jerusalem was accompanied by much joy and sacrifice. When the priests had borne the ark only six paces they had proved that it was being carried safely, and that the Lord approved the manner of carrying it. Therefore .they stopped and offered to Him sacrifices of oxen and fatlings. David himself dressed in pure white linen ephod of the priests and worshipped the Lord joyfully, dancing for joy with all his might. The people joined him with glad shouts and the musicians sounded the trumpets.

When the procession reached Jerusalem, David’s wife, Michal, looking out the window saw David mingling with the common people of the land and acting with complete lack of dignity she felt unbecoming for a king, and in her heart she despised him. This was to bring about lasting and, to Michal, sad results. The princess, who at least once loved David (1 Samuel 18:20; 1 Samuel 18:28), now had come to despise him.

David, still unaware of Michal’s feeling, continued to the conclusion of the festivities relative to the removal of the ark to its new abode. These he closed by setting it in the tabernacle he had provided for it in Jerusalem, then uttering a blessing upon the people who had attended the affair. David gave presents to every man and woman, consisting of a loaf of bread, a piece of prime meat, and a bottle of wine. So the people departed for their homes happy and pleased.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following account, pertinent to the subject under study, is found recorded only in First Chronicles. -Author.

Levitical Account of the Ark’s Removal, 1 Chronicles 15:1-28

This passage from the Chronicles account emphasizes the part of the Levites in the removal of the ark to Jerusalem. This is in keeping with the theory that the books of Chronicles were written after the Babylonian exile by the scribes, who were, of course, Levites, and their purpose of writing to show that the priesthood and the line of David, with its Messianic promise, survived the exile.

In beginning, the building of houses in Jerusalem by David is mentioned to show that David prepared a special place there for housing the ark. Verse 2 then commences the account of the removal with the second attempt, at which time David had done his homework, by studying the Scriptures, and had learned that the ark was to be conveyed on the shoulders of the priests, not on a cart. The king assembled the great families of the priests and Levites, many of whom are named in this passage. Of the families cited there was a total of eight hundred sixty-two. These all came from the chief families of the Kohathites, Gershomites, and Mararites, the three sons of Levi, the son of Jacob.

David appointed as chief priests Zadok, who represented Aaron’s son, Eleazar, and Abiathar, who represented the family of Ithamar, Aaron’s younger son. (See 1 Chronicles 24:3; with 2 Samuel 8:17.) These two exercised a joint high priesthood, probably because David wished to reward Abiathar, the sole survivor of the house of Eli, who had remained faithfully with him through his flight from Saul.

David now commanded them to sanctify themselves according to the commandment of the law that they might bring up the ark lawfully, for their failure the first time to do this had been the cause of the disaster relative to Uzza. This they proceeded to do. David also had the Levites to organize the singers and musicians for making music and singing in joint worship while the ark was being transported. The chief of singers and musicians were Heman, Asaph, and Ethan. Of these it is interesting to note that Heman was the grandson of the prophet Samuel (1 Chronicles 6:33), while the names of Asaph and Ethan are associated with the authorship of several of the Psalms (50, 73-83 of Asaph; 89 of Ethan). The Alamoth (v. 20) and Sheminith (v. 21) refer to musical instructions of indeterminate meaning today.

Great care was taken to guard the ark, after the disaster to Uzza. Several Levite leaders were charged with the special care to guard it against profanation. Chief of these included Obed-edom in whose house the ark had been left for the three month interval after Perez-uzza. The sons of Obed-edom, among others, continued to be temple guards throughout Israel’s history (see 1 Chronicles 26:1; 1 Chronicles 26:4-8).

The ark is said to have been brought up with great joy, and verse 26 says that the Lord helped the Levites who carried it. Sacrifices of seven bullocks and seven rams were made. David celebrated right along with the Levites bearing the ark, the singers and musicians, wearing a robe of fine linen just as they wore. So the ark came. into Jerusalem amid great joy of the people.

Verses 20-23

Divorce of Michal, vs. 2 Samuel 6:20-23

The critical look of Michal at the dancing, seeing king David, as he came into Jerusalem with the ark had been noted above. When David returned to his house to give it blessing, in commemoration of the great event of the day, he was met by Michal, his wife. She spoke to him with sarcasm and mockery, as having lowered himself by his actions in the eyes of his subjects, in a manner very unbecoming a king. He had been just as one of the frolicking young men who threw off their outer garments to be unencumbered as they danced and sang for the joy of the occasion. The young girls were able to stare upon him in his undignified white robe rather than the royal apparel she felt he should have been dressed in.

Michal had no spiritual appreciation of the occasion. The white robe, indicative of spiritual purity and righteousness, had no meaning to her, nor did she concern herself with the purport of the ark’s presence in Jerusalem; only that her husband had humiliated and shamed her before the people. David explained to her rather brusquely that what he did was for the eyes of the Lord and in honor of Him. He it was who chose David to be Israel’s king over her father, Saul, and all her relatives, and he would humble himself before God. In fact he would debase himself further for the Lord’s sake, and would be exalted in the eyes of the young girls of whom she had spoken.

The statement that Michal "had no child unto the day of her death," indicates that David put her away and no longer cohabited with her. It was a kind of divorced condition of widowhood, by which she remained in David’s harem and her material welfare attended to by him. It seems rather severe retaliation by David, though the error of Michal was actually against God, and her example stands as a warning to all who ignore the spiritual aspect and see only the side of selfish prestige (Romans 2:4 and context).

Lesson summary: 1) A land is blessed indeed when it has a leader who will encourage the worship and reverence of the Lord; 2) negligence of the Word of God will still bring tragedy to some and remorse of conscience to others who ought to have known and acted on its precepts; 3) God has a right way to do the things He has commanded, a way which may be known, and there is no excuse for not knowing it; 4) the right way to do God’s things and His true worship are commensurate with the blessing of the Lord upon His children in all ages; 5) humility is the most becoming robe one can don in the eyes of the Lord; 6) concern for material honor to the ignorance of God’s will leave the one involved barren and unproductive.

INSERTED: 1 Chronicles 16:4-6 FOLLOWS:

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The hardbound commentary continues here with I Chronicles, chapter 16, following the chronological order of the events under study. The information in chapter 16 goes with the organization of the worship following David’s removal of the ark to Jerusalem. Verse 1-3 were studied earlier.

Ministering Levites, 1 Chronicles 16:4-6

Not only did David re-institute regular worship by his removal of the ark to Jerusalem, but he also introduced some innovations. Previously the Levites seem to have not performed their duties well. They had doubtless become so numerous that there were not enough of the old Levitical tasks to go around. David now gave them new responsibilities. While some continued to minister before the ark, others were appointed to record, or tcncommemorate, thank and praise the God of Israel.

Eight of the chief Levites are named here. Of them Asaph and Obed-edom were the most prominent. Asaph was chief musician, and many of the psalms are ascribed to him. His sons succeeded him in that capacity for many generations (see Ezra 2:41; Nehemiah 7:44 etc.).Obed-edom’s house sheltered the ark for three months (1 Chronicles 13:14). His sons became doorkeepers to guard the sanctity of the temple in later generations.

Jeiel had charge of the psalteries and harps in the orchestra, Asaph sounded the cymbals, and Benaiah and Jahaziel blew the trumpets. The psaltery was similar to the harp. Illustrations show it to have been a triangular stringed instrument, while the harp was curved.

1 Chronicles 16:7

Praise the God of Israel, vs. 7-22

David wrote the psalm which is recorded here in celebration of the ark’s successful removal and to give thanks to the Lord. Probably it was the first song produced by the musicians of the new order. It begins with a commendation of the Lord and counsel to men to worship Him. Several verbs are used: 1) He is to be thanked by calling on His name and making Him known to others; 2) He is to be praised by voice of singing and talking of His songs and works; 3)Men are to glory in His name and rejoice in Him; 4) He is to be continually sought for strength and consolation; 5) His marvelous works in behalf of His people are to be always remembered and His judgments respected.

Israel is to do these things, but remembering that He is Judge of all the earth. This recalls the covenant the Lord had made with Israel’s fathers, which they are never to forget. It is His law to them and it is everlasting. By it they possessed Canaan. The Lord had promised it to them through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, even when they were very few in the land, and strangers. He had protected them when they were going about in their pilgrimage from nation to nation and kingdom to kingdom. He protected them from those who would harm them, even rebuking kings (Genesis 12:17; Genesis 20:3). This passage is almost identical to Psalms 105:1-15.

1 Chronicles 16:23

Praise Continues, vs. 23-36

This last section of David’s psalm begins with an evangelistic challenge: Sing to the Lord and bear daily testimony of His salvation; declare His glory and show His marvelous works to the heathen world. Their gods are but idols, whereas the God of David is to be feared above all for He is the Creator of all. From here the psalm continues to laud the Lord God for glory and honor, strength and gladness. All kindreds of the earth should give Him the glory due His name, bring Him offering, worship Him in the beauty of holiness. He is due reverent fear, for His it is who keeps the world and establishes it.

The whole universe is called on to rejoice and men to preach His universal pre-eminence. Nature is spoken to as animate members of the creation; the roar of the sea, the growing fields, the soughing of the trees are portrayed as sounds of joy in the Lord. All should give thanks to the Lord for His everlasting goodness and mercy. Verse 33 shows the supreme reason, He comes to judge the world and to make things right again in the universe. David ends the psalm with a prayer that the Lord keep His people from subjection to the heathen, that He will gather them to give thanks to His holy name. "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for ever and ever." The people responded to their king with a hearty, "Amen!" and praised the Lord with him.

1 Chronicles 16:37

Singers, Porters, Musicians, vs. 37-43

David left the specially appointed Levites to perform their tasks at the sanctuary of the ark as he had set them. Asaph and his family were to be regularly and constantly employed in their tasks. Obed-edom and his sixty-eight relatives were employed as the doorkeepers. Specially mentioned among these is another Obed-edom and Hosah.

Zadok the priest and his brother priests ministered at thetabernacle which had been re-established at Gibeon. Zadok andAbiathar had previously been given places as joint high priests by David (2 Samuel 8:17). Zadok represented the family of Eleazar andAbiathar the family of IthaMr Abiathar was of the family of Eli,which had been cut off from the priesthood (1 Samuel 2:31 and context).Zadok, descended from Phinehas, was the rightful high priest (Numbers 25:10-13).

The priests had been established at Nob when Saul slaughtered them (1 Samuel 22:11 ff). When the tabernacle (without the ark) was erected at Gibeon is unknown. The reason this place was chosen is also unknown, though it might have been because the Gibeonites had been made servants of the sanctuary by Joshua (Joshua 9:22 ff). There they continued to burn the offerings on the altar of burnt sacrifice, or brazen altar.

Heman and Jeduthun were employed in the singing and music-making. It is unclear whether they are said to serve at Gibeon in this capacity, or in the place of the ark at Jerusalem. The context makes it appear they were at Gibeon, though the implication may be that they served in this capacity, with their families, in both places. The people who had assembled for this great ceremony and celebration were now dismissed and went to their homes. David also went home to bless his house. The sequel of this event was discussed in commentary on 2 Samuel 6:20-23.

From this chapter emphasize: 1) The Lord expects orderly arrangement of His worship (1 Corinthians 14:40); 2) the Lord is to be praised in song and speech for all He has done, is now doing, and will yet do for His people; 3) a people’s leaders, who praise the Lord, will elicit a good response from them; 4) the use of musical instruments in the praise and worship of the Lord is pleasing to Him, when they are "musical instruments of God" (1 Chronicles 16:42).

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-samuel-6.html. 1985.
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