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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 6

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-23

III. Solemn transfer of the Ark of Mount Zion and establishment of regular divine service

2 Samuel 6:1-23

1Again David [And David again1] gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2And David arose and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the Lord of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims [which is called by the name of Jehovah of hosts who sitteth on the cherubim].2 3And they set [transported] the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah [on the hill]; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave [led] the new cart. 4And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah [on the hill] [om. And … Gibeah]3 accompanying [with] the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark. 5And David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord [Jehovah] on all manner of instruments made of firwood [with all their might, with songs]4 even [and] on harps [lyres] and on psalteries and on timbrels and on cornets [sistra] and on cymbals.

6And when they came to Nachon’s5 threshing-floor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. 7And the anger of the Lord [Jehovah] was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote him there for his error;6 and there he died [he died there] by the ark of God. 8And David was displeased because the Lord [Jehovah] had made a breach upon Uzzah; and he called the name of the [that] place7 Perez-uzzah to this day. 9And David was afraid of the Lord [Jehovah] that day, and said, How shall the ark of the Lord 10[Jehovah] come to me? So David would not remove the ark of the Lord [Jehovah] unto him into8 the city of David, but David carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11And the ark of the Lord [Jehovah] continued in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months; and the Lord [Jehovah] blessed Obed-edom9 and all his household.

12And it was told king David, saying, The Lord [Jehovah] hath blessed the house of Obed-edom and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So [And] David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom 13into the city of David with gladness. And10 it was so [it came to pass] that when they that bare the ark of the Lord [Jehovah] had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings. 14And David danced before the Lord [Jehovah] with all his 15might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. So [And] David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark11 of the Lord [Jehovah] with shouting and with the [om. the] sound of the [om. the] trumpet.

16And as the ark of the Lord [Jehovah] came into the city of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a [the] window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord [Jehovah]; and she despised him in her heart. 17And they brought in the ark of the Lord [Jehovah] and set it in his [its] place in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt-offerings12 and peace-offerings12 before the Lord [Jehovah]. 18And as soon as David had made [And David made] an end of offering [ins. the] burnt-offerings and [ins. the] peace-offerings, [ins. and] he blessed the people in the name13 of the Lord [Jehovah] of hosts. 19And he dealt among [dealt out to] all the people, even among [to] the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as [ins. to the] men, to every one a cake of bread and a good [om. good] piece of flesh14 and a flagon of wine [a raisin-cake]; so [and] all the people departed every one to his house.

20And David returned to bless his household. And Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was [om. was] the king of Israel [ins. made himself] to-day, who uncovered himself to-day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly15 uncovereth himself! 21And David said unto Michal, It was [om. it was] before the Lord [Jehovah] which [who] chose me before thy father and before all his house, to appoint me ruler [prince] over the people of the Lord [Jehovah], over Israel—therefore will I play 22[yea, I have played] before the Lord [Jehovah]. And I will yet be more [be yet more] vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight; and of the maid-servants 23which [whom] thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honor. Therefore [And] Michal the daughter of Saul had no child16 unto the day of her death.


[Parallel with 2 Samuel 6:0 is 1 Chr. 13, 15., 16—Tr.]

2 Samuel 6:1. Assembly of all the chosen men in Israel.—“David assembled.”17 Thenius renders: “and David increased again all the chosen men;” but against this is that nothing has been before said of the numbers of the army (as the “again” would then imply), and that such a completely isolated statement of the augmentation of the standing army would be very strange, [and further this rendering would not agree with the expression “all the chosen men.”—Tr.].—The ancient VSS. all have: “assembled.”—The expression “all the chosen men” can be understood (as in Judges 20:15; 1 Samuel 24:3) only of the military men chosen expressly for service of war, not of a chosen body identical (according to 1 Chronicles 13:1-5) with the captains of thousands, etc., that is, with the representation of the nation in stocks and families (Keil), for the term “chosen” (כָחוּר) could not be so employed. And for this reason the word “again” cannot refer to the non-military assembly of the Elders in 2Sa 5:1; 2 Samuel 5:3, against which further is, that David did not convoke that body, while it is here said that “David again gathered,” and that that assembly lay too far back of the two gatherings of the military population for the Philistine wars described just before [ch. 5]. Rather the “again” refers to this latter assemblage of the military men, which is obviously presupposed in the immediately preceding narrative. Thus 2 Samuel 6:1 by the “again” and the “all the chosen men” connects itself immediately with what precedes, while it introduces what follows: for why should David not have brought up the ark with an army of thirty thousand men (against Thenius)? The exhibition of such military pomp accorded perfectly with the importance of the ark for the whole people, whose elite in these “hearts of oak” [Germ. kernel- or core-warriors] (Ew. Gr. § 290 c) the more appropriately took the first place in the solemn procession, since it was their victory over the Philistines that made the transference of the ark possible. Besides, a military escort might be necessary to guard against a new attack of the enemy.—We learn from this “that David already in a certain sort maintained a standing army” (Then.).—The Sept. has seventy instead of thirty thousand, supposing, no doubt, that the whole military force of all Israel was here assembled, a supposition that is excluded by the phrase “chosen men.” [The consultation of David with the leaders in 1 Chronicles 13:0, and the assembling of “all Israel” (that is, probably, through its representatives) is not inconsistent with the statement here. The Chronicler brings out prominently details of organization, especially religious, “Samuel” gives the simplest historical narration.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 6:2-10. David’s march to fetch the ark from Kirjath-jearim.

2 Samuel 6:2. And David went with all the people that were with him.—These are not the above-named thirty thousand chosen warriors, but, besides them, the representatives of the whole nation gathered to the festival, as described in 1 Chronicles 13:1-14, where nothing is said of a military body, while here in our passage the preliminary conference with the heads of families is passed over, and only a summary statement made in reference to the accompaniment of the ark by the people. The expression “from Baale” is strange, since nothing has before been said of David’s going thither. But we cannot make the Prep. (מִן) = “to” (Dathe), nor regard the phrase as definitive of the preceding “all the people,” as do the ancient VSS. (Sept. “of the rulers of Judah,” Vulg. “of the men of Judah,” and so Luther “of the citizens of Judah”)—the latter view is untenable because the designation of place presupposed in the expression “from thence” would then be wanting. From what follows “Baale-Judah” can be nothing but the place Kirjath-jearim (comp. 1 Chronicles 13:6) whither the ark was carried according to 1 Samuel 6:21; 1 Samuel 7:1, = Kirjath-baal, Joshua 15:60; Joshua 18:14; Baalah, Jos 15:9; 1 Chronicles 13:6. This original Canaanitish name continued along with the Israelitish. See Joshua 18:14, “Kirjath-baal, that is, Kirjath-jearim, the city of the children of Judah;” to this last name answers here Baale-Judah, whereby this city is distinguished from others of like name, Baal or Baalah in Simeon (Joshua 19:8; 1 Chronicles 4:33) and in Dan (Joshua 19:44). It lay on the border between Judah and Benjamin, westward on the border of the latter tribe and about eight miles west of Jerusalem [identified by Rob. with the modern Kuryet el-Enab or Abu Gosh, on the road from Jerusalem to Jaffa.—Tr.].—Since, now, the Prep. “from” cannot well be taken (with Keil) to be an ancient clerical error, we may either suppose that the writer here gives a very condensed narrative, not mentioning David’s march to Baalah, because he took it for granted in relating what was to him the chief matter, the bringing of the ark thence (Kimchi, Maurer), or, if such a condensation seems too hard, we must suppose a lacuna in the text. Thenius thinks it probable that it originally read “to Kirjath-jearim of the citizens of Judah,” = “children of Judah,” Joshua 18:14 (קִריִת יעָרַים בּ׳) and the two first words except the last letter (מ) have fallen out. This, as explaining how the Prep. (מִן) came into the text, seems better than the conjecture of Lud. Capell. (Crit. Sac. I. 9, § 8), who supplies the words of 1 Chronicles 13:6 “to Baalah, to Kirjath-jearim, which is to Judah,” or that of Bertheau (and Ewald) “Baalah, it (הִיא), is K., which is to Judah.” [It seems a difficulty in the way of Thenius’ ingenious restoration that the word בַּעַל in the sense of “citizen, inhabitant” is found only with names of cities, not of countries. This, if correct, will also set aside Well-hausen’s explanation of the Prep. (מִן), that it arose from a misunderstanding of, בַּעֲלֵ, which was taken = “citizens or inhabitants.” Perhaps the מ is clerical error for ל, the two letters being not very unlike in their ancient forms.—Tr.]. To bring up thence the ark of God.—The rest of the verse is descriptive of the “ark of God,” but opinions vary as to the exact sense. The rendering (connecting אֲשֶׁר with עָלָיו): “on which (ark) the name, the name of Jehovah … is called” (Keil) or “called on” (De Wette), has against it that “there is no example of so many words between the Rel. and its complement” (Then.), and the strangeness of this repetition of the “name” [which is written twice in the Heb.—Tr.]. The translation: “which (ark) is called the name” (Kimchi, and also Bunsen: which is called by name [whose name is called] …), is untenable because the ark itself is never so called; equally insufficient is Keil’s explanation of his translation: “over which the name of Jehovah is named,” that is, above which Jehovah reveals His glory, for the verb “is called or named” must be referred not to Jehovah, but to the human naming” of Jehovah’s name. Also to Ewald’s view, who refers the Relative to “God,” and translates “He was named with the name” (Gr. § 284 c) the twice-recurring “name” is an objection. It is better, therefore, to render (with Cler., Maur., Then., Berth.): “where the name of the Lord of hosts … is invoked” (reading שָׁם for שֵׁם). Usually indeed the verb “call” is followed by the Prep. בְּ (in, on) when it means “invoke,” but it is found without this Prep., Psalms 99:6, and Lamentations 3:55; and though there was no invocation of the Lord’s name at the ark itself (since none was permitted to approach it), yet the place where it stood was doubtless a place of divine worship.18 “Who is enthroned on the Cherubim,” that is, is present with His ruling power in the midst of His people; the expression is never used except in relation to the ark; see on 1 Samuel 4:4. “Who is enthroned on the Cherubim above it19 (the ark).” [On the text of this verse see “Text. and Gram.—Tr.].

2 Samuel 6:3 sq. “Set it on the cart.”20 A “new cart” must be taken, because the sacred vessel was not permitted to come in contact with anything already desecrated by common use, comp. 1 Samuel 6:7. “And brought it out;” according to the above translation (“set”) there is no need of rendering this verb as Pluperf. “had brought” (Then.).—Carrying the ark on a cart was contrary to the legal requirement (Numbers 7:9), according to which it was always to be borne by the Levites. “The Hebrews here probably imitated a Phœnician or Philistine custom. The Phœnicians, namely, seem to have had sacred carts, on which they carried about their gods (Münter, Relig. der Karthager, p. 120), and the oxen were sacred to Baal (p. 15).” (Stähl., David p. 39). See 1 Samuel 6:7. Out of the house of Abinadab on the hill, comp. 1 Samuel 7:1 sq. According to this passage Abinadab’s son Eleazar was entrusted with the oversight of the ark; here we find “Uzza and Ahio” mentioned as Abinadab’s sons, and as driving the cart in charge of the ark. The ark had been about seventy years in Abinadab’s house, twenty years up to the victory of Ebenezer (1 Samuel 7:1 sq.), forty years under Samuel and Saul, and about ten years under David. Thus the statement that Uzza and Ahio led the ark may (as Keil remarks) be explained without difficulty. “Either these two sons were born about or after the time that the ark was deposited in his house, or the word ‘sons’ is used in the wider sense of ‘grandsons,’ as is often the case” (Keil).—Text-criticism of 2 Samuel 6:4. By the mistake of a transcriber, whose eye wandered at the words נהֲֹגִים אֵת־ה׳ back to חֲדָשָׂה אֶל־ע׳, the words from הד׳ to בַּנִכְעָה were repeated, and are to be omitted. Only thus is the omission of the Art. in the second חד׳ to be explained. [That is, omit the “new” at the close of 2 Samuel 6:3, and in 2 Samuel 6:4 omit the first clause ending with “Gibeah.” Some read 2 Samuel 6:4 thus: “and Uzza went with the ark of God, and Ahio (or, his brother) went before the ark,” which gives a good sense. The whole verse is omitted in Chron. See “Text. and Gram.”—Tr.]

2 Samuel 6:5. Whilst Ahio went before the ark, and Uzza went alongside it (2 Samuel 6:6)—perhaps in 2 Samuel 6:4 the words “and Uzza went” have fallen out before “with the ark of God” (De Wette, Then., Buns.)—the whole procession, David at the head, moves forward with music, song and dance. The whole house of Israel, see 2 Samuel 6:1-2. Before the Lord, whose presence was symbolized by the ark itself. “Sporting,” that is, playing (see Judges 16:25) and dancing (see 2 Samuel 6:14). The Heb. word (צַחֵק ,שַׂחֵק) is the general expression for dancing in its connection with vocal and instrumental music, 1Sa 18:7; 1 Samuel 21:11; 1 Chronicles 13:8; 1 Chronicles 15:29; Jeremiah 30:19; Jeremiah 31:4; Proverbs 8:30 sq.—The words of the Heb. text “with all manner of cypress-woods” make no sense; for what signifies the mention of the material, of which the instruments were afterwards made? The Sept. and Vulg. (ἐν ὀργάνοις ἡρμοσμένοις) “with fitted instruments,” in omnibus lignis fabrefactis “with all manufactured woods”) presuppose indeed this reading; but the Sept. has also another reading “with might and with songs,” to which answer the corresponding words in Chron. (2 Samuel 6:8): “with all their might and with songs.” [This reading of Chron. is now generally adopted here, though not by the Jewish expositors Philippson and Cahen, who retain the text of “Samuel.”—Tr.] With the expression “with all might” comp. 2 Samuel 6:14 : “and David danced with all (his) might.” On the connection of song with festive dance and instrumental music see on 1 Samuel 18:6-7. The timbrel (tabret, hand-drum תּוֹף) or Aduffe [Arab, and Pers. duff or diff, Span. adufe] was used by the virgins to give the time in dancing.—The menana [incorrectly “cornet” in Eng. A. V.] is an instrument that gave forth a melodious tone when shaken to musical time (from, נוּעַ “to shake”), the sistrum (σεῖστρον) of the ancients.—“Cymbals,” smaller or larger metal-plates, which when struck together gave a clear sound.21 Chron. has “trumpets” in place of “sistra;” the two accounts are doubtless mutually complementary (Keil). [On these instruments see the Bib.-Dicts.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 6:6. And when they came to a fixed threshing-floor.—Nachon (נָכוֹן) is not to be taken (with many expositors [and Eng. A. V.]) as a proper name, since it never so occurs; nor is it = “threshing-floor of the blow” (נָכָה Mov., Keil), for the word is always found as a Pass. Partcp. (Niph.), and cannot be derived from the Qal [simple Active] of the verb “smite” (נכה), which never occurs; besides, in that case, as Böttcher rightly remarks, “the name would not be connected with Perez (2 Samuel 6:8).” Nachon (from כוּן) = “a fixed threshing-floor, which did not change its place like the summer floor (Daniel 2:35), and therefore probably had a roof and a stock of fodder” (Böttch.). Chron. has “threshing-floor of destruction” (Kidon, כִּיד = כִּידוֹן Job 21:10, destruction, properly blow, plaga = Ar. caid), a designation that probably has its origin in the succeeding narrative. Later the name Perez-uzza came into use instead of these appellations. It is not necessary to insert in the Heb. the words “his hand” (יָדוֹ) after the verb “put forth,” for the verb is found alone in Psalms 22:17; for example, comp. with Psalms 18:17; Obadiah 1:13. [Bib.-Com.: the word reach is so used in Eng. without a following hand.—Tr.]. Uzza reached out to the ark of God and took hold of it, namely, to keep it from falling over or down; for the oxen shook, jostled it (שָׁמְטוּ); according to the usual signification of the verb,—not “ran away” (Ges. Dietr.), or “had gotten loose” (De Wette), nor “had thrown it down” (Böttch., Then.), since according to the narrative Uzza wished to save it from falling by laying hold of it. Ewald: “they jostled the ark so that it seemed about to fall off.” [The Acc. Pron., not expressed in the Heb., is easily supplied from the connection.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 6:7. “God smote him for the error.” [Erdmann thus agrees in this translation with Eng. A. V., Abarb., Philipps., Keil, Chald.; the difficulty is stated in “Text. and Gram.” Some render “for his rashness,” some “unawares,” and others adopt the reading in 1 Chronicles 13:10. Consult Kennicott’s “Dissertation,” p. 456, Levy’s Chald. Dict. s. v. שְׁלִי, Wellhausen’s “Text Samuelis.”—Tr.]. The error consisted in touching the ark, which as the symbol of God’s presence (1 Samuel 4:7), none could look at (Numbers 4:20; 1 Samuel 6:19), much less lay hold of, without peril of life. For transportation, therefore, it was first covered up by the Levites to whom it was committed (especially the Kohathites, Numbers 7:9), and that with faces covered (Numbers 4:15; Numbers 4:20), and carried on staves which constantly projected (Exodus 25:14-15).—Instead of this brief statement of the offence, Chron. has the descriptive periphrasis: “because he had put out his hand to the ark,” which is followed by Syr. and Arab. A suddenly fatal apoplectic stroke was the natural means of the manifestation of the divine anger at Uzza’s violation of the majesty of the holy God symbolized in the ark of the covenant.

2 Samuel 6:8. “And David was angry that the Lord had made a breach (or inflicted a stroke) on Uzza;” not “was amazed (confounded),” for the verb is always used of anger, the angry person being introduced with the Prep. לְ [= to], 2Sa 19:43; 1 Samuel 15:11; Genesis 18:30; Genesis 18:32; Genesis 31:36. The cause of his anger or angry excitement is not the deed of Uzza, but the deed of God, the slaying of Uzza, in so far as he was obliged to look on himself as the cause of this punishment through his non-observance of the legal prescription concerning the transportation of the ark; for the ark was to be borne, not ridden, and touching it was forbidden on pain of death (Numbers 4:15). “To this day” this name had continued the only one in use in commemoration of this occurrence, [that is, up to the writer’s time, which was at some considerable remove from the event referred to.—Tr.].

2 Samuel 6:9. While David is angry at this justly-incurred misfortune, his heart is filled with fear of the Lord. How shall the ark of the Lord come to me?—This question indicates the ground and object of David’s fear of the Lord; in view of what had happened on the touching of the ark, he feels himself guilty before the Lord and unworthy of His presence; he fears to be similarly stricken, if he now bring the ark to him into Zion.

2 Samuel 6:10. The procession was broken up, and the effort to bring the ark to Zion abandoned; he carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom the Gittite.—Obed-edom, a Levite of the stock of the Korahites, which was a branch of the family of Kohath (Exodus 6:16; Exodus 6:18; Exodus 6:21), a “son of Jeduthun” (1 Chronicles 16:38), appears afterwards as a porter in Jerusalem, and also acts as musician in the transference of the ark (1 Chronicles 15:18; 1Ch 15:21; 1 Chronicles 15:24; 1 Chronicles 16:5). He is called “Gittite” not from a former protracted residence in the Philistine city Gath (Vatabl.), but from Gath-Rimmon, the Levitical city in Dan. (Cler.), Joshua 21:24; Joshua 19:45, where he was no doubt born. Since he was of the Korahites, who were porters during the march through the wilderness, we can the more readily understand how the ark was carried to him. [If Jeduthun is the same as Ethan (comp. 1 Chronicles 15:17; 1 Chronicles 15:19 with 1 Chronicles 16:41-42; 1 Chronicles 25:1; 1 Chronicles 25:3; 1 Chronicles 25:6; 2 Chronicles 35:15) then Obed-edom, the son of Jeduthun, was a Merarite. There may, however, have been several of the name. 1 Chronicles 25:15 is supposed by some to establish the identity of our Obed-edom with the Jeduthunite, though this cannot be said to be certain. If the two are the same, it is suggested that, “though a Merarite by birth, marriage with a Kohathite would account for his dwelling in a Kohathite city.” The question can hardly be certainly decided. His name is peculiar, apparently = “serving (servant of) Edom.” It is suggested (Wellh.) that Edom is here the name of a god, to which the objection is that there is no trace elsewhere of such a deity, the name occurring only as a gentilic one, and in connection with Esau. It having been shown by Erdmann that the man Obed-edom was a Levite, it may be surmised either that he was a foreigner adopted by marriage into the tribe of Levi, or, more probably, that he, or some ancestor of his, had once been in servitude to the Edomites.—See Bib.-Com. in loco.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 6:11-19. [1 Chronicles 13:14; 1 Chronicles 15:16]. Transference of the Ark from the house of Obed-edom to the City of David.

2 Samuel 6:11 sq. Three months the Ark remained in the house of Obed-edom.—After the words “with the house of Obed-edom,” Chron. has “in its house,” “in order to maintain the dignity of the sacred vessel” (Then.). The blessing on Obed-edom’s house and possessions (comp. Jos. Ant. 7, 4, 2)22 “for the ark of God’s sake,” that is, by reason of God’s gracious presence in His majesty and glory, forms the contrast to that other revelation of God’s anger [against Uzza] and to David’s fear of misfortune and destruction from the presence of the ark, and now becomes the occasion of David’s resolution to bring the ark to himself to Mount Zion. After the words (2 Samuel 6:12): “because of the ark of God” the Vulg. has: “and David said, I will go and bring back the ark with blessing into my house,” which is an explanation of what precedes in reference to Obed-edom’s experience of blessing, as motive for bringing back the ark. [Well-hausen: “This addition in the Vulgate of 1590, which pragmatically connects the two facts which in the masoretic texts are merely collocated, does not belong to Jerome—see Vercellone in loco. It is found also in several Greek MSS. Against Thenius.”—Tr.]. Chron. (2 Samuel 15:1) connects this narrative with the preceding (the palace-building, 2 Samuel 14:1 sq.) by the remark that David, while building houses in Jerusalem, prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. And David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom (which was not necessarily near Perez-Uzza, but lay perhaps on the outskirts of the Lower City) into the city of David “with gladness,” in glad procession, with festive joy, comp. Genesis 31:27; Nehemiah 12:43.

2 Samuel 6:13. Since bearers of the ark are spoken of, it appears that David now observed the prescription of the Law. In 1 Chronicles 25:2 sq. David declares that no one should bear the ark but the Levites, because they were thereto chosen by God. The former procedure is thus expressly recognized as illegal (comp. Numbers 1:40; Numbers 4:15; Numbers 6:9; Numbers 10:17). In Chron. we then find (2 Samuel 6:2-13) the king’s consultation with the priests and Levites about the legal performance of the solemn act of bringing up the ark, and (2 Samuel 6:14 sq.) David’s further regulations concerning the singing and instrumental music in the procession.—And when the bearers of the ark of the Lord had made six steps, he sacrificed (caused to be sacrificed) an ox and a fat calf.—De Wette renders wrongly: “And it came to pass, as often as they went six steps, he sacrificed;” the Heb. would not allow this rendering (it must then be וְהָיָה ... וְזָבַח, Böttch.), and what a monstrous representation: such an offering every six steps! The meaning is that David, having arranged and started the procession, introduced and consecrated it with a sacrifice. “It was a thank-offering for the happy beginning and a petition for the prosperous continuation of the undertaking” (Böttch.). The halt after six steps is therefore not a “surprising fact” (Then.), nor need we suppose that the bearers stood “a long time” with the ark on their shoulders. The offering of seven bullocks and seven rams, which according to Chron. (1 Chronicles 15:26) was made by the Levites, was not the same with this, but a concluding thank-offering for the happy completion of the undertaking with the Lord’s help (comp. 2 Samuel 6:12). [So also Patrick and Keil regard the sacrifice in 1 Chronicles 15:26; but it seems clear from the context that the same offering is here intended as in our passage, for the solemnity is not completed till 2 Samuel 6:15. It is no objection to this that David is the offerer in the one and the Levites in the other (Patr.), for David may have used the Levites as sacrificers (as Erdmann intimates); nor does the apparent difference in the animals make a serious difficulty, for the terms in “Samuel” may be collective, see Genesis 32:6 (so Eng. A. V.), Chron. simply supplying the exact numbers, the special term “bullock” of Chron. may be included under the general “oxen” of “Samuel,” and the “rams” under the somewhat indefinite “fatlings” (so Sept. and Vulg.). Or, if it be difficult to take the second word (מְרִיא) as collective, we may suppose a difference in the figures in the two accounts, such as is not infrequent.—Tr.].

2 Samuel 6:14. And David danced with all his might before the Lord.—The verb (Pilp. of כָּרַר, only here and 2 Samuel 6:16) = “to hop, spring, dance in a half circle,” comp. the similar word for “camels, dromedaries” (כִּרְכָרות). Dances on festive occasions, as in thanksgiving for deliverances (Exodus 15:20), for victory (Judges 11:34; Judges 21:19; 1 Samuel 18:6) were commonly performed by women alone. The expression “with all his might” sets forth the high degree of David’s joyful excitement, comp. 2 Samuel 6:5. “Before the Lord,” that is, before the ark of the covenant as the symbol of the presence of the Lord as the king of His people.—Girded with a (white) linen ephod.—As elsewhere the white ephod was worn only by priests as a sign of their priestly character (1 Samuel 22:18), there was a special significance in David’s wearing the priestly dress now; it lay, however, not in a desire on his part to represent himself, in honor of the Lord as head of the priestly people of Israel, but partly in the general priestly character that the kingly office of David and Solomon still continued to maintain at the head of the people, partly in David’s priestly procedure in this festivity; he, as it were, performed the functions of a priest (Thenius), not merely in blessing the people (2 Samuel 6:18), but also in conducting the whole procession and arranging the sacrifice. While the Chronicler gives elaborate information respecting the dress of David and the Levites, our narrator here confines himself to the statement that David was clothed with the white ephod. On the other hand, David’s dancing is omitted by the Chronicler, not because it offended him from a priestly point of view (for he alludes to it in 2 Samuel 6:16, and mentions it 2 Samuel 13:8 in agreement with 2 Samuel 6:5), but because he here wished to bring out with special prominence the ritualistic side of the ceremony, for which the priestly dress was important. (See Keil in loco.) [It is suggested by some (see Bib. Comm.) that the first clause of 1 Chronicles 15:27, “and David was clothed with a robe of fine linen,” is merely another form (possibly a corruption) of the text of “Samuel,” “and David danced with all his might,” especially as this same 2 Samuel 6:14 mentions the linen-ephod also. The Heb. letters in the two clauses are sufficiently alike to permit one to be derived from the other, and the context in Chron. is not against such a supposition. But it is impossible to say whether the one text is to be derived from the other, or, under such a supposition, which is the original.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 6:15. Comp. 1 Chronicles 15:28, where the names of the several instruments are given. Here we have briefly with shouting and sound of trumpet.—The Chron. draws full accounts from the common source, our author gives a summary statement. [On religious dances among the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, see Wilkinson’s Ancient Egyptians, Smith’s Dict. of Greek and Roman Ant., Arts. Chorus and Saltatio, and comp. Art. Dance in Smith’s Bib. Dict.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 6:16. Michal23 is expressly called Saul’s daughter, not thereby to characterize her as lacking in true-hearted piety (Keil), but to distinguish her in comparison with David’s other wives, as highest in position. She looked through the window—that is, holds herself aloof from the procession,24 and criticises David’s conduct (as her remark proves) with a cold heart which had no part in his and the people’s joyous inspiration. When she saw the king leaping and dancing (Chronicl.: dancing [= leaping] and playing), she despised25 him in her heart—despised him on account of his presumed degradation of himself, to the shame of his royal dignity (2 Samuel 6:20).

2 Samuel 6:17. The tent that David pitched for the ark being merely a covering on poles without a firm structure of boards, could have been only temporary, since David had the purpose to build a permanent sanctuary, a “house” to the Lord (chap. 7). Set it in its place in the midst of the tent.—That is, in the space marked off according to the tabernacle which still stood in Gibeon, in the Holy of Holies. The burnt-offerings and thank-offerings that David now offered referred to this provisional sanctuary, and served to consecrate it. Of course he made the sacrifices not in his own person, but through the priests.

2 Samuel 6:18. The offerings being ended, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Sabaoth.—The blessing was not the Aaronic (Numbers 6:22 sq.), which pertained only to the high-priest, but (like Solomon’s, 1 Kings 8:55) a concluding benedictory address to the whole people. “The name of the Lord of Sabaoth” is the essential being of God, as it was exhibited in the fulness of all His revelations to His people. The benedictions find their fulfilment only in this self-revelation of God to His people as their source, which is at the same time the pledge for the fulfilment.

2 Samuel 6:19. The entertainment of the people. Each one, men and women, received a “bread-cake” (כִּכַּר = חַלַּת, 1 Chronicles 16:3), a round cake, such as was baked for sacrificial meals, comp. Exodus 29:23 with Leviticus 8:24 sq. Eshpar [Eng. A. V.: good piece of flesh] occurs only here, is not = “piece of flesh,”26 but probably to be derived from a verb “to measure” (Aeth. שׁפּר, De Dieu, Gesenius, Rödiger, De Wette), and = a “measure of wine,” which would not be too hard a suppletion [would not be supplying or understanding too much] (Thenius). The third term [Eng. A. V.: flagon of wine] means raisin-cake, or a mass of dried grapes pressed into a cake (Ges.), comp. Song of Solomon 2:5; Hosea 3:1.—Thereupon the people returned home.—In like manner David, having finished the offering and the entertainment, returned to his house to bless it (2 Samuel 6:20 a)—that is, to invoke on his house the blessings he had pronounced on the people, and (having finished this sacred act) to place it under the protection and blessing of the Lord, of whose presence in his house the ark standing near in the tent was the symbol. The close of verse 19 and the beginning of verse 20 are given at the end of the narrative, 1 Chronicles 16:43.

2 Samuel 6:20-23. Michal’s pride and David’s humility.

2 Samuel 6:20. And Michal came to meet David.—The words here added by the Sept.: “and greeted him” are an insertion, which there is no ground for putting into the Hebrew text. How glorious did the king of Israel make himself to-day!—This bitterly ironical address with which David, returning joyfully to bless his house, is received by Michal, is the outburst of her wicked feeling (2 Samuel 6:16). Who uncovered himself to-day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants.—That is: exposed, degraded himself, obviously alluding to the fact that David had exchanged the royal robes proper to such an occasion for the light, comparatively short sacerdotal dress. She blames him not so much for dancing as that in such a procession and in such attire, forgetting his royal dignity, he mingled with the common people and put himself on a level with them. As one of the vain fellows uncovers27 himself.—“Worthless, bad fellows” (רֵיק) as Judges 9:4; Judges 11:3; Proverbs 12:11; Vulg.: “buffoons” (scurris), Sept.: “dancers” (ὀρχουμένων), which is an explanation instead of a translation. Observe the twofold definition of the degradation: “in the eyes of the maids of his servants” over against the reference to the king of Israel.

2 Samuel 6:21. David’s answer.—Before the Lord who chose me …… and I have played before the Lord.—We have here an anacolouthon, the long Rel. clause “who chose … Israel” breaking the connection, which is then restored by “and [or yea] I have played,” the phrase “before the Lord” (which stands at the beginning) being resumed. [On this verse see the English translation and “Text. and Gram.”—Tr.] After the words “before Jehovah” Sept. inserts “I will dance; blessed be the Lord,” and after “and I have played” [which it renders “I will play”] has “and I will dance,” in order thus to relieve the anacolouthon, and to introduce the “dancing,” which (though the object of Michal’s blame) is strangely omitted [in the Heb.] in David’s reply. In answer to Michal’s cutting irony, which regards David’s conduct merely from the point of view of its accordance with the dignity of “the king of Israel,” and characterizes it as common and low, he affirms two things: 1) that in his procedure he had an eye only to the glory of God, and that it must therefore not be condemned as common and low, but rather recognized as holy and well-pleasing to God; and 2) that he received his kingdom and his position as king of Israel through the Lord’s choice and command. He had therefore acted not counter to, but in accordance with this royal dignity, in that he gave the honor to the Lord, who had raised him from lowliness to this height. The expression “before the Lord” derives a very strong emphasis from its position at the beginning and at the end, and, thus repeated, indicates the holiest and highest point of view whence (in opposition to Michal’s profane utterance) his procedure in this festival is to be judged and estimated. Before thy father and before his whole house says David, in order to repel the charge that he had thus lowered the royal dignity which had passed to him from Saul and his house, thus pointing also to the cause of the rejection of Saul and his house, namely, such haughtiness and pride as the “daughter of Saul” had here exhibited.

2 Samuel 6:22. “And I will be yet more vile.” Instead of this Sept. has the nonsensical rendering: “and I will still thus uncover myself” (גָּלָה)! The less reason then for changing the Heb. “in my eyes” into the Sept. “in thy eyes.” Certainly David did not lower himself in his own eyes, that is, in his own judgment, by his playing and dancing (as Thenius, contrary to the text-reading, remarks)—not in the sense of Michal’s charge; yet he did lower or humble himself in his own eyes in the sense that he expresses in 2 Samuel 6:21, where he describes his conduct as a self-abasement before the presence of the Lord. “In comparison with this” (that is, with this abasement before the Lord) he continues: And I will be held (= become) yet more vile (Niph. = Qal. as Genesis 16:4) in my eyes.—That is, in my own judgment will humble myself yet more than to-day. The expression “in my eyes” cannot be explained as = I will suffer still greater contempt from men than what I have just experienced.” And with the maids, of whom thou hast spoken, with them will I be held in honor.—Ewald’s explanation: “should I seek honor from them? no, that is not at all necessary” falls to the ground, since Michal’s assertion that he had gotten himself honor was not serious, but ironical. Thenius: “of the maids shall I be held in honor” [so Eng. A. V.]—that is, they, the simple souls, will know better than thou how to estimate my humility, and this will compensate me for thy foolish contempt. But this latter is an interpolated thought, which would be farthest from David’s soul at this moment of extreme humility before the Lord, and would savor of Michal’s ideas about human honor. The “honored” here (obviously contrasted with Michal’s “honored, made glorious,” 2 Samuel 6:20) refers (as is clear from the throughout recurring words, “before the Lord”) to the honor in the sight of the Lord, which will be given those who humble themselves before the Lord. David, having opposed to Michal’s “in the eyes of the maids” his “in the presence of the Lord,” places himself “before the Lord” on the same level with the maids, expressing by the repeated “with” his fellowship and equality with these humble folk, and pointing to the honor which he with them would have before the Lord, because he humbly showed due honor to the Lord. [The objection to this interpretation is that we should then expect David to say “I will (or shall) be honored by Jehovah,” that is, the subject or agent of the honoring must be expressed, and is given in the text only by the word “maids.” The Hebrew Prep, may mean “among” or “before” (apud), and thus permits the translation of Eng. A. V., Patr., Then., Philippson. Besides, in reply to Michal’s sneer about the maids, it is a natural and sharp rejoinder on David’s part to accept this honor which she regards as beneath contempt.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 6:23. Michal’s childlessness is specially mentioned as a punishment of her pride. This was the deepest humiliation for an oriental woman. [For a vivid description of the scenes of this chapter see Stanley’s Jewish Church, Second Series, p. 89–98, Lect. 23 (Am. Ed.).—Tr.]


1. It was not till David had taken Jerusalem from the Jebusites, made Zion his capital and secured it by his victories from Philistine attacks, and thus for a short time at least secured peace, that he could proceed to the holy work that he completed in bringing the ark to Zion, and that was of great importance for the religious life of the nation. This act had its root in David’s truly pious feeling, was the living expression of his gratitude to the Lord for His favor, and aimed at the elevation and concentration of the religious life of Israel. It needed a new elevation, since under Saul it had partly at least sunk down from the height to which Samuel had brought it, and fallen into a somewhat brutalized condition. The royal house itself, whose influence on the people was so great, had more and more lost living piety; the spirit of pride reigned in it, as Michal (who was herein very like her father) plainly shows here in her bearing towards David; it is a significant fact that in her father’s house she has an idol-image. The religious-moral life of the nation fell of necessity into more and more thorough dissolution, the longer Saul’s persecutions of David continued and the external unity established by Samuel was destroyed by the wars between Saul and David, and by partisan oppositions. When, now, David by establishing his theocratic kingdom over all Israel had restored the external (national and governmental) unity, he made an important step further, by the act recorded in this chapter, towards elevating and sanctifying the inner life of his people; he laid the deepest foundation for their internal unity by again concentrating their religious life on its centre and source, namely, the dwelling of God in the midst of His people, symbolically set forth in the ark. “In Saul’s time it [the ark] had not been sought after” (1 Chronicles 13:3); the centre of divine service that it indicated had been lost. Now David gathers the representatives of the whole nation around him, in order at the head of the nation solemnly to restore to the centre of the national life the long-vanished sanctuary, and to renew the religious unifying of the people, especially in regard to divine service, about the kernel and star of the innermost life. By the transference of the ark to Zion Jerusalem, representing the national and political unity, becomes now the centre of religion and divine service for the national life. The account in Chron. supplements our history in regard to the part taken by the priests, the divine service and the ordination of the sacred service before the ark (chs. 13, 15, 16). With this was connected the restoration of the unity and arrangement of the priestly service and of the duties of divine service. This unity indeed does not yet reach a complete external representation. There continue to be two holy places; the ark remains apart from the old tabernacle, which abode with the altar of burnt-offering at Gibeon, where also the offerings still went on (1 Chronicles 16:39; comp. 1 Kings 3:4). There the high-priest Za-dok officiates, the son of Ahitub, of the family of Eleazar, who performs the legal regular sacrificial service at the tabernacle (Leviticus 17:3). But beside him we find a second high-priest in that Abiathar (of the family of Ithamar), who escaped from Nob to David (1 Samuel 22:20), had remained with him, and now resided with the sanctuary on Zion (comp. 1 Kings 2:26); so the two are named together in 2 Samuel 20:25; 1 Chronicles 18:16. This double high-priestship, which had arisen from the separation of the tabernacle and the ark, was the reason why David permitted this separation to continue, and did not remove the Mosaic tabernacle also to Mount Zion, since he could remove neither the one high-priest nor the other from his office. We see also two sacred tents, besides the old one at Gibeon a new one pitched by David over the ark. While the sacrificial service is still continued in Gibeon according to the Law (1 Chronicles 16:40; comp. 1 Kings 3:4), a sacred service is established by David at the ark also; ibid. 2 Samuel 6:37 sq.—But in spite of this still continuing external dualism, there was after the institution of the sacred service on Zion an internal unity (through the establishment of regular divine service) such as did not exist before. The tent which is pitched on Zion, is provisional, and points like the old tent, which in the march through the wilderness and in the time of the Judges was the symbol of a provisional arrangement, to a central sanctuary to be erected, the founding of which David has in mind, but cannot yet execute (2 Samuel 7:0). But in this provisional, personal state of the religious life which in its two principal seats is unified, purified and arranged, the sanctuary in Jerusalem steps into the central point of the religious consciousness both for David and for the whole people, while the sanctuary in Gibeon retires into the background, as is especially evident from the fact that the tabernacle is never mentioned in the Psalms. Comp. Hengst. Gesch. d. R. Gottes [Hist. of the kingdom of God] II., p. 122 sq.

2. The significance of this narrative (of the transference of the ark to Jerusalem and David’s conduct therein) for the apprehension and representation of the theocratic royal office in his person, is first to be considered on the one side in relation to God, and on the other side in relation to the people. The content of his consciousness as king is simply this one thought of the dependence of his kingdom for its dominion on the royal rule and might of the covenant-God, whose choice and command has appointed him king over Israel (2 Samuel 6:21), that he is the instrument by which God carries on His government of His people. From this point of view the bringing back of the ark is an act of reverence and gratitude to the Lord, whose name, symbolically set forth in this sanctuary, is honored and praised by David at the head of the whole people as the sum of all his revelations to them. But also by the establishment of this token of the presence of the Lord in the midst of His people and of His royal dwelling and enthronement in His possession on Mount Zion, which David has prepared for his own residence, the idea of the indivisible unity of the human kingship and the kingly rule of God in His people is brought out. There is enthroned the king of glory, Psalms 24:7-10; the king’s throne is the throne of God, Psalms 45:7 [6]; Jerusalem is the city of the Great King, Psalms 48:3 [2]; Zion is Jehovah’s dwelling, Psalms 9:12 [11]; Psalms 74:2; Psalms 76:3 [2]; thence proceed all manifestations of God’s royal might and glory, Psalms 20:3 [2]; Psalms 110:2.—But also in relation to the people David represents the theocratic kingship in the light of its ideal signification. He assembles the whole people about the sanctuary as the throne of Jehovah; he will make them a people truly united under the dominion of God, moving with their whole life around Jehovah as centre, showing their king-God the highest honor and serving Him alone (Psalms 24:1-10). In contrast with every other oriental kingly office David shows in his conduct the popular character of the theocratic kingship. He does not soar at an unattainable and unapproachable distance and height above the people, but “makes himself one” with them, mingles immediately with them, is accessible to all, and does not scorn fellowship with the lowest and meanest, because be knows that in the presence of the Lord he is not connected but religious-morally on the same level with the whole people and every individual one of these (2 Samuel 6:21-22). David, as theocratic king, whose government is to be the organ and representative of Jehovah’s rule over His people, is conscious that he is mediator between the Lord and His covenant-people, and acts accordingly: on the one hand he “represents the whole people” before the Lord and leads them to Him, at their head and in their stead brings burnt-offerings and thank offerings, and appears with them “before the presence of the Lord” (2 Samuel 6:21) to restore at the ark the legally ordained divine service—on the other hand he represents the Lord before His people, declaring His “name” to them, and praying and obtaining His “blessing” for them.—Herein, as appears most clearly in this history, David not only stands in closest connection with the bearers of the prophetic office, but we see in him also the kingly office in closest association with the priestly, while Saul, in opposition to both these offices, allowed his kingly rule to assume more and more an antitheocratic character. But still farther: as David, as representative and instrument of God’s royal rule over the people of His possession [peculiar people = his private property—Tr.], possesses the prophetic spirit, whereby Jehovah’s word designed for the people is on his tongue (2 Samuel 23:2), so also, like Samuel representing the people before God, he combines in his person the priestly character with the kingly and the prophetic, and in this festival in his priestly dress and procedure brings out and represents the idea, that the theocratic kingship, as a representation of the people before the Lord is to be a priest-kingship. [As David is never said to have performed the distinctively priestly work of sacrifice (committing this, as Erdmann himself says in the Exposition, to the priests), and as the representation of the people before God, and mediation between them and Him is a general pious work, performed often by prophets and others (Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Josiah, Nehemiah), it is not easy to see why on this ground alone a priestly character should be assigned to him. In one sense the whole people were priests (Exodus 19:6), a great spiritual idea being thus guarded against the perverting tendencies of outward ritual, and so David was in the high spiritual sense a priest, as every Christian now is; but in the narrower sense an Israelitish priest made atonement for sin by blood, and none but sons of Aaron could perform this service, as now human priesthood is abolished, and the priestly work is done by Christ alone.—Tr.].—But also the religious-moral character and the disposition of the theocratic king is here set forth typically in the presence of the whole people; he precedes them in showing the Lord His due honor in word and deed; he shows himself to be the faithful and conscientious overseer, leader and arranger of the divine service; he shows himself to be deeply penetrated with the feeling that he owes his royal office solely to the free undeserved grace of the Lord, and exhibits a deep humility, wishing to be nothing but the servant of the Lord in fellowship with his servants and maids. [See Translator’s note to Erdmann’s exposition of 2 Samuel 6:22.—Tr.].—This humble disposition of David in the presence of his God forms the sharpest contrast to the haughtiness and pride of his wife Michal, “who knew nothing of the impulse of divine love” (Theodoret).

3. God’s blessing is an outflow of His name; it can only be mediately obtained by man for man, when it is drawn from this eternal, inexhaustible source. The Lord dispenses His blessing to house and family, people and State, only on the condition that His gracious presence is desired and preserved (2 Samuel 6:11), and honor given to His name in mind, word and deed, as here by David and all the people. When men devote their heart and all their life as a sacrifice to the Lord, and consecrate themselves to Him, in reward therefor He sends on them streams of blessing.

4. The following are the references in the Psalms to the important event of the transference of the Ark. Psalms 24:0 was no doubt composed by David to celebrate Jehovah’s entrance into the sanctuary on Mount Zion, with direct reference to the incidents narrated in 2 Samuel 6:0 Jehovah, the king of glory, comes to make His dwelling on Mount Zion amid His people.

He is celebrated as the king of the whole world (2 Samuel 6:1; 2 Samuel 6:10); on this foundation of the majesty of the Creator and Lord of all things rests the view of His royal glory, the revelation of which is unfolded in and for Israel. The praise of Jehovah as the strong hero in war, the Lord of Sabaoth, points to David’s Philistine wars (2 Samuel 6:1; 2 Samuel 6:15). The primeval doors, which are to lift themselves up that the king may hold his entry, are the gates of the old fortress of Zion. The exhortation to the doors to raise and widen themselves assumes that this is the first entrance of the ark, and excludes the view that the Psalm was composed on its return from war. While 2 Samuel 6:7-10 describe the arrival and solemn entry of “the King of glory” with the outward preparation for His worthy reception and for His entrance into the place prepared for him, 2 Samuel 6:1-6 refer to the ascension of the people to Mount Zion and to the moral requirements made of those who will be in truth the people of God, who desire and seek after Him. Only the pure in thought, word and deed are His people and may approach Him. With unholy mind and unclean hand Uzza seized the sacred vessel; to this (2 Samuel 6:6 sq.) refer the words of the Psalms 5:3-6. The blessing of “Jehovah the God of salvation” (2 Samuel 6:5) recalls 2 Samuel 6:11; 2 Samuel 6:18. The words: “the generation of them that inquire after Him and seek His face,” form a contrast to 1 Chronicles 13:3 : “Let us bring up the ark of God; for in Saul’s time we sought it not.”—The history of the entry is here regarded according to its higher moral-religious significance for the people of the Lord. “It was needful at the very beginning of the new relation to establish its essential character and fix it in the people’s consciousness, to furnish a counter-weight or equipoise to the external pomp with which the ark was brought in; to point out that true (not simply external) fellowship with a God like this one, the lord of the whole earth, and a share in His blessings, is to be obtained only in the one way of true righteousness; to point to the serious nature of the demands made on the subjects, that results from the glory of the entering king” (Hengstenb. on Psalms 24:0).

With reference to the establishment of the sanctuary on Mount Zion, and in essential harmony with the first didactic-ethical part of Psalms 24:0, David sang Psalms 15:0 also, as is clear from the question to the Lord in 2 Samuel 6:1 : “Who may be guest in thy tent, who may dwell on thy holy mountain?” and from the portraiture of the moral character of God’s house-companions though we cannot establish with certainty particular references which Hitzig here finds to the history in 2 Samuel 6:12 sq. (see Moll [Lange’s Bible-Work] on Psalms 15:0).

Whether Psalms 68:0 (as most ancient expositors, Stier and v. Hoffm. hold), especially 2 Samuel 6:16-17 (Ew.), is to be referred to 2 Samuel 6:0, is doubtful; more probably it is connected with the return of the ark from the wars and victories whose termination is given in 2 Samuel 12:31.

Psalms 78:56-72 presents the historical pre-suppositions of this fixing of the seat of the royal glory, which lie far back in the history of Israel’s sin and defection from the Lord to strange gods. The Lord punished Israel for their apostasy by forsaking His dwelling in Shiloh, giving the sanctuary into the hands of enemies, etc. But the Lord again had mercy, and arose in His might to cast down the enemy; He chose Judah that He might in it on Zion establish His dominion and build high His sanctuary. From hence He ruled as the king of His people through His servant David whom he had chosen to feed His people, as once he fed the flock, whence He called him.

Psalms 101:0, “the Prince’s psalm” or ruler’s mirror (Luth.), was not indeed composed by David on the occasion of Uzza’s misfortune and the deposition of the ark in the house of Obed-edom (Hammond, Ven., Dathe, Muntinghe, De W., Del.); for, from the connection of thought, the question: “When comest thou to me” (2 Samuel 6:2)? cannot be referred to the words of 2 Samuel 6:8 : “how shall the ark of Jehovah come to me?” and the designation of Jerusalem (ver 8) as “the city of the Lord” does not suit, since Jerusalem was so called in consequence of the establishment of the ark on Zion, and an anticipation of this designation (Del.) is not supposable. But this appellation, the “city of the Lord,” taken together with the repeated expression within the house “and with the prominent mention of personal, domestic, social and national duties and virtues, favors the view that some time after this event, which was an epoch-making one for his and the nation’s religious-moral life, David wrote this Psalm with reference to the blessings that he therein received from God and the obligations therein imposed on him. The “city of Jehovah,” which has received this name and the honor involved in it through the Lord’s choice of it as a dwelling-place, “is to set forth not only in its divine service [ritually], but also ethically the character of holiness” (Moll), Isaiah 35:8; Isaiah 52:1; Nahum 2:1, as the king “within his house,” which is founded and built on Mount Zion as the seat of the theocratic kingly dominion, himself walks in uprightness of heart, suffers no other house-companions but those who with him serve the Lord in righteousness (2 Samuel 6:3), truth (2 Samuel 6:4) and humility (2 Samuel 6:5), and so conducts his government, that in the nation and land he looks on those only as his true servants and his companions in the kingdom of God who walk in the ways of faithfulness and honesty. Ewald: “We are introduced into the very core of all the great king’s thought and effort at this time by Psalms 101:0, which cannot have been composed till at least after this removal of the sanctuary, when Jerusalem had already for some time been the ‘city of Jehovah,’ and according to its whole content probably falls in these first years. Here is freely poured forth a heavenly-clear stream of the purest kingly thoughts and purposes. … How David, having before wished to become a righteous king, faithful to the true God, was now in the ‘city of Jehovah’ much more joyfully and decidedly resolved to become one, comes out most beautifully from the words of this Song.”

5. The establishment of the ark on Zion was the beginning of the reformation and reorganization of the divine service, which was raised by David from the disintegration and lawlessness into which it had fallen under Saul, to an artistically beautiful form. He organized the priests and Levites, dividing them into twenty-four classes for weekly service. With his own musical endowments was intimately connected his zealous care for the organization of the sacred music, to which, with the aid of the three great masters, Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun, he gave a new impulse, and for the culture and further development of which, along with the four thousand Levites who were charged with the execution of the sacred music, there was formed a select chorus out of the families of the three masters. And with this was connected the development of sacred poetry in psalm-composition, of which David himself was the creator.


2 Samuel 6:2. [Hall: The tumults of war afforded no opportunity of this service; only peace is a friend to religion; neither is peace ever our friend, but when it is a servant of piety.28—Tr.] Fr. Arndt: Truly to be praised and felicitated is every land that is ruled by a pious king; there mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other: and the proverb is proven true: As the king, so the people! But also to be felicitated is every king himself, who does not forget that over him there reigns a yet greater king, the King of all kings, to whose grace he owes his royal power, who alone secures him his throne, and who will one day bring him to account for what he does and what he leaves undone.

2 Samuel 6:3-7. Starke: He who wishes to rejoice let him rejoice in the Lord.—-[Hall: O happy Israel, that had a God to rejoice in, that had this occasion of rejoicing in their God, and an heart that embraced this occasion!—Tr.]—As a burning coal kindles the next, so may the good example of pious rulers attract the subjects to follow them, 2 Corinthians 9:2.—Even that which is done with a good intention does not always please God, 2 Samuel 7:5; Leviticus 10:1; Proverbs 14:12.—Osiander: Even pious people err when they depart, though it be but a little, from the express word of God.—[Hall: God’s businesses must be done after His own forms, which if we do with the best intentions alter, we presume.—Wordsworth: All religious reformations which are wrought by men are blemished with human infirmities.—Tr.]—Schlier: How could such a festal joy, which knew nothing of holy fear, however well meant, prove acceptable to God? It is not enough that we mean well, and have pious thoughts; we must also, in what we do, hold fast to God’s word and commandment, and in all our joy in the Lord must not allow ourselves to forget that we have to do with a holy God.—Disselhoff: Where God sees one that wishes to flee to the shelter of His word, He so trains him up that he learns to bow unconditionally to the authority of that word, and no longer mingles God’s word and man’s word.—F. W. Krummacher: This interruption of the bright jubilee-festival was for every one a new warning that God’s kindness never goes alone, but always under the guidance of His holiness, … that we dangerously overstep the limits of becoming modesty whenever we mount up to the delusion that it depends on us to rescue the ark as soon as ever the car of the Church whereby it is borne appears, through the negligence and unfaithfulness of those who are appointed for its direction, to be rolling into the abyss.—O. v. Gerlach: Uzzah is a type of all those who with humanly good intentions, but in an unsanctified spirit, take it upon themselves to rescue the cause of God, which they think is in peril.

2 Samuel 6:9. Osiander: When many have sinned, God commonly punishes one or two of the leaders, in order that the others may remember their sin and beg forgiveness.—F. W. Krummacher: Though the Lord may for a time change His countenance, yet with His own people He always means faithfulness, and after the storm always makes the sun come up again in his time. However painfully He may chastise, His word of promise always stands: Can a woman forget her child?” etc.

2 Samuel 6:11. Fr. Arndt: Where the sign of the Lord’s presence, the means of grace, is, there the Lord’s presence and gracious working is not wanting, and where this enters there is indeed blessing upon blessing, as in Obed-edom’s house.—Schlier: What blessed people we then first become when we receive God’s word into our houses, and let this word of God be our heart’s joy and delight. The blessing of the Lord dwells where God’s word dwells.

[2 Samuel 6:12. Scott: When pious men who have been betrayed into unwarrantable conduct have had time for self-examination, searching the Scriptures and prayer, they will discover and confess their mistakes, and be reduced to a better temper; they will justify God in His corrections; they will be convinced that safety and comfort consist, not in absenting themselves from His ordinances, or in declining dangerous services, but in attending to their duty in a proper spirit and manner; they will profit by their own errors.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 6:14. Disselhoff: David was full of joy because he perceived that entire submission of heart to God’s revealed will makes one truly free and blessed.—Berl. B.: The joy of a soul is unspeakably great, which finds again in itself the pure and holy God, whom before it feared to receive.—F. W. Krummacher: David gave expression to that which swelled in his bosom, even in corresponding gestures and a rhythmical movement.—The idea of that which the world of today is wont to associate with the word dance, is here to be kept quite at a distance. Dancing was in Israel a form of divine service, in which often—as in the case of Miriam and her companions after the passage of the Red Sea—the highest and holiest inspiration found expression.—Starke: It is accordingly a shameful misuse to justify voluptuous dancing by David’s example.—S. Schmid: What is undertaken in God’s service must be done with all the heart and with all the powers, in order that everybody may see that one is in real earnest.

2 Samuel 6:15. Schlier: So we have here a popular festival, and indeed a right joyous popular festival full of festal jubilation, and the occasion of the festive joy is nothing else than the ark, the sanctuary of the Lord. The law of the Lord makes a whole people, with their king in the lead, joyous and jubilant.—How much do worldly festivals amount to, and how little do Christian festivals ! what a jubilee in the one case, and how little true festal joy in the other!—Our fairest and most delightful popular festivals ought to be our Christian festivals.

2 Samuel 6:16. Starke: Divine and heavenly things are to worldly hearts only folly; they cannot know them, for they are spiritually discerned, 1 Corinthians 2:14.—F. W. Krummacher: Even at the present day, alas! there is still no lack of people like Michal. In the pure fire of the Spirit from on high these persons also see only a morbid fanaticism; in the most animated and vigorous expression of hallowed exaltation of soul, a hypocritical display. … The life from and in God remains a mystery to every one until through the Spirit of God Himself it is unsealed to his experience.

2 Samuel 6:20. [Henry: We have no reason to think that this of which Michal accused him was true in fact; David no doubt observed decorum, and governed his zeal with discretion; but it is common for those that reproach religion thus to put false colors upon it, and lay it under the most odious characters.—Tr.]—There is never wanting to pious enthusiasm the moment when it again gives place to the accustomed quieter and more equable state of mind. David did not always come home in so exalted a frame as on that festal day. But lamentable is the case of him who does not at all understand the eagle-flight by which souls devoted to God, in times of especial visitations of grace, are carried up above all the enclosures of their wonted everyday life, and transported into a condition in which in feeling and word they “soar above the heights of earth.”—Berl. Bib.: After the soul has lost all its own greatness and all the joy drawn from itself, it has no other joy or greatness than the joy and greatness of God. Men filled with mere carnal prudence cannot bear such a condition. They condemn it and depise those who are so happy in possessing it, yea they chide it still, as here Michal reproaches David and passes carnal sentence on that which is spiritual.

2 Samuel 6:21 sqq. Disselhoff: A heart that with all the forces of its being clings so closely, so joyously, to God’s revelation, or rather grows into it, draws from it all nourishment and receives from it all light, such a heart bears as a precious fruit that unfeigned, immovable humility, whose heart-refreshing image this history sets before our eyes.—He who walks in such humility before God and men, his eye is not blinded by the sunlight of good days, his heart and head do not become dizzy on the heights of prosperity. He stands firm, whether God leads him into the gloomy valley, or a step higher, or upon the summit. But such humility is born only of absolute submission under God’s law and testimony.—[Scott: We should esteem such reproaches honorable, and determine to become still more vile in the eyes of ungodly revilers, by abounding in those services which they despise.—Robinson: We are warned from the examples of ancient saints to expect opposition and contempt, as far as we discover any real fervor in the service of God. Nor should we wonder if on such an occasion “a man’s foes be they of his own household.”—Tr.]—S. Schmid: It is better to be exalted by God with the lowly than to be humbled by God with the proud. Matthew 23:12. Cramer: Honor with God should be more highly esteemed than honor with men. John 12:43.

2 Samuel 6:23. Fr. Arndt: If we look back once more, we see: All are blessed of God, David, Obed-edom, the rejoicing people; Michal alone has remained unblessed. Her lack of blessing was the penalty and the curse of her pride.—[Hall: David came to bless his house (2 Samuel 6:20); Michal brings a curse upon herself.—Tr.]

[Chap. 6 Rabanus Maurus: In this history we see humility approved, pride condemned and rashness punished.—Tr.]

Chaps. 6 and 7. Disselhoff: The blessed secret of standing firm in days of exaltation and undisturbed quiet. Belonging to it are: 1) Humble, unconditional subjection to the testimony of God; 2) Faithful, genuine, zealous work for the honor of the Lord and of His kingdom; 3) Grateful stillness when the Lord rejects our work for Him, and wishes to work in our own hearts.

[2 Samuel 6:6-7. The fate of Uzzah: 1) Its occasion—neglect of a known commandment of God (Numbers 7:9; 2 Samuel 6:13). 2) Its immediate cause—irreverence (Numbers 4:15). 3) Its general lessons for us; for example, even an apparently little thing may be a great sin; an action may seem necessary, and yet be wrong; good intentions do not excuse disobedience; we must not expect to help God’s work by measures which God forbids.—Tr.]

[2 Samuel 6:8. A man displeased with God; thinking himself wiser, more kind, more just than God. Really perhaps vexed that his grand solemnity was interrupted, his rejoicing people disappointed, his prestige damaged, his enemies encouraged. Often when men complain of Providence on “high moral” grounds, they are in fact mainly influenced by some secret personal feeling.—Now highly elated with spiritual pride, at once thankful and self-complacent, and presently dejected, irritated and disposed to give up altogether (2 Samuel 6:9). When any promising religious enterprise of which we have had the lead is disastrously interrupted, we are tempted to find fault with Providence.—Tr.]

[2 Samuel 6:10. Obed-edom and the ark. Israel had long slighted the ark; Uzzah had been slain for making too free with it; David had shrunk from it in mere superstitious fear and resentment; Obed-edom receives it gladly, deals with it in the prescribed way, and is rewarded by a rich blessing. So as to religion in general. Some neglect, and greatly lose; some profane, and are ruined; some misunderstand, and pervert into superstitious fear; but those who truly welcome and observe it according to its real nature are richly blessed themselves, and may by their example induce others to seek it likewise (2 Samuel 6:12).—Tr.]

[2 Samuel 6:12. The “city of David” now becoming the “city of Jehovah” (Psalms 101:8). 1) How it had been conquered; 2) How it was consecrated; 3) How it was to be prospered.—Worthy purposes of a God-fearing ruler. King David’s devout programme when now established as theocratic sovereign (Psalms 101:0). 1) As to his personal character and conduct (Psalms 101:2); 2) As to punishment and prevention of evil-doing (lb., 2 Samuel 6:3-5; 2 Samuel 6:7-8); 3) As to encouragement of good men (lb., 2 Samuel 6:6). (Comp. above, “Hist. and Theol.,” No. 4, latter part.)—Tr.]

[2 Samuel 6:12-18. Sermon on Psalms 24:0, as written for this occasion. Comp. Psalms 15:0. (See above, “Hist. and Theol.,” No. 4.)

2 Samuel 6:20. He that had “blessed the people” (2 Samuel 6:18) returns to “bless his household.” Piety in public and in private—public worship and family worship.—A good man, after public religious duties, returns joyous, thankful and loving to his home—and meets scolding and ridicule.

2 Samuel 6:16; 2 Samuel 6:20-22. Religious enthusiasm, and those who contemn and ridicule it.

2 Samuel 6:16-23. Sermon on the history of Michal. (Comp. Henry on this passage.)—Tr.]


[1][2 Samuel 6:1. Wellhausen supposes that עוֹר came from the misunderstanding of יסֶֹף>, as if the verb were from יסף, which regularly takes עוֹר (comp. 1 Samuel 18:29); but see the explanation in the Exposition.—Tr.]

[2][2 Samuel 6:2. So substantially Cahen, Wellhausen, Bib. Com.; Philippson repeats the word “name,” and Erdmann renders: “where (שָם) is invoked the name of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim over it.”—It is clear, however, that עָלָיו is the complement of the Rel. אֲשֶׁר, and the second שֵׁם is better omitted with Sept., Vulg., Chald., Arab., and one MS. of Kennicott. As to the number of words between the Rel. and its complement, such a massing up of dependent phrases in unusual, but not impossible; and the sentence may have been originally simpler (as Wellh. suggests) אֲשֶׁר נק׳ שֵׁם י׳ עָלָיו, and the appositional phrase afterwards added.—Tr.]

[3][2 Samuel 6:4. This clause is omitted by Erdmann (so Sept.). But it is doubtful whether the whole verse had not better be omitted (as in 1 Chronicles 13:0.), for it adds nothing to the preceding. In that case the last clause might be regarded as a marginal explanation which early got into the text.—Thenius thinks that the incorrect repetition of the first clause has occasioned the dropping out of the words: “and Uzzah went,” before the words: “with the ark of God,” and Wellh. adds that it has also occasioned the change of the appellative אָחִיו, “his brother,” into the proper name, אַחְיוֹ, “Ahio.”—Tr.

[4][2 Samuel 6:5. This is the reading in 1 Chronicles 13:8. Sept.: בִּכְלֵי עז.—Tr.]

[5][2 Samuel 6:6. Aq. ἕως ἅλωνος ἑτοίμης, and so substantially Böttcher and Erdmann: “to a ready (fixed) threshing-floor;” but this is less probable than the rendering of Eng. A. V. as a proper name. It is no objection to this that this word does not occur elsewhere as a proper name. The form in Chr. כִּידוֹן is thought by Wellh. to be the same as the last syllable of this: כון = כרן =; but this is improbable.—Tr.]

[6][2 Samuel 6:7. עַל־הַשַּׁל, an obscure phrase. Ewald: “unexpectedly” (comp. Daniel 8:25; Job 15:21); some Greek VSS. give ἐπὶ τῆ προπετεία, ἐπὶ τῆ εκνοία; Erdmann and others as Eng. A. V., which is a doubtful meaning, and besides the suffix would then be required. Our phrase might be a fragment of the phrase in Chron.: עַל אֲשֶׁר שָלַח (so Bib. Com. and others). Chald. as Eng. A. V.; Vulg. super temeritate (so margin of Eng. A. V.).—Tr.]

[7][2 Samuel 6:8. Some MSS. have שֵׁס המָּק֨ום.—Tr.]

[8][2 Samuel 6:10. עַל, “on,” since the city was on a hill (but many MSS. have .—אֶל).—בֵּית indicates the point reached by motion, the Prep. being omitted, as is frequent.—Tr.]

[9][2 Samuel 6:11. Some MSS. have “the house of Obed-edom,” and others add “the Gittite.”—Tr.]

[10][2 Samuel 6:13. Here and elsewhere Aquila renders אָרוֹן by γλωσσοκόμον. Sept. has ἐν ὀργάνοις ἡρμοσμένοις for בְּבָּל־עזֹ in 2 Samuel 6:14 (see 2 Samuel 6:5). It is difficult to see how it gets its translation: “and there were with him seven choruses bearing the ark,” unless it takes צְעָדִים (steps) concretely as = “persons going or marching;” what follows: καὶ θῦμα μόσχος καὶ ἄρνες, is also strange.—Tr.]

[11][2 Samuel 6:15. Some MSS.: “ark of the covenant of Jehovah.”—Tr.]

[12][2 Samuel 6:17. Without the Art. since the number is not given, and the statement is indefinite; but in the following verse, since the nouns are then defined by previous mention, the Art. is used.—Tr.]

[13][2 Samuel 6:18. בְשֵׁם—Sym.: διὰ τοῦ ὀνόματος, Aq. ἐν ὀνόματι.—Tr.]

[14][2 Samuel 6:19. Erdmann: “a measure (of wine),” Aq., Sym. ἀμυρίτην (perhaps ἀμυλίτην from ἀμυλος = “fine meal”), obscure, Sept. ἐχαρίτην, perhaps = אֶשְּׁכָּר, Vulg. assaturam bubulœ carnis unam, “a roast of ox-flesh.”—Tr.]

[15][2 Samuel 6:20. This adverb in Eng. A. V. is intended to express the force of the second Inf. here; the construction is noticed by Erdmann. Supposing the second Inf. to be genuine and intensive, the meaning would be: “really, thoroughly uncovers,” to which Eng. A. V. corresponds substantially.—Tr.]

[16][2 Samuel 6:23. Keth. יֶלֶד, Qeri וֶלֶד, written in Genesis 11:30 וָלָד, which is the older form. Böttcher: “This is one of the few examples of the retention by the punctuators of an archaism in the older book, and its correction in the later.”—Tr.]

[17] יוֹסֵך for יֶאֶסֹף = יֹאסֵף (as in 1 Samuel 15:6; Micah 4:6, Psalms 104:29), comp. Ew. § 139 b, Ges. § 68, Rem. 2; it is Impf. of אָסַף [not of יָסַף “to increase”].

[18]The אֲשֶׁר־שָׁם refers back to the מִשָׁם. So in 1 Chronicles 13:6 this invocation is mentioned, if we read שָׁם for שֵׁם at the end.

[19] עָלָיו belongs to ישֵׁב, but there is no need to supply אֲשֶׁר in reference to “Cherubim” (Then.).

[20] הִּדְכִּיב as 2 Kings 23:30; comp. 2 Kings 13:16.

[21]Instead of our צֶלְצְלִים Chron. has מְצִלְתַּיִם, see Psalms 150:6.

[22][Josephus says (but probably without extra-biblical authority) that Obed-edom, from having been poor, became rich, and that people observed it.—Tr.]

[23] וְהָיָה, as in 1 Samuel 17:48 and often in later books, for וַיְהִי (comp. Ew. § 345 b)—“because there is no progress in the action, but we have merely the mention of an additional incident” (Keil).

[24][But probably it was not expected that she and other members of the household (women) should take part in the procession (2 Samuel 6:20).—Tr.]

[25] וַתִּבֶז with לְ, as verbs of inclination and hate often have the prepositional construction (love to, Leviticus 19:18; hate or contempt towards, Proverbs 17:5); Ewald, § 282 c.

[26]It is not (with most Rabbis) to be derived from אֵשׁ and פָר.

[27] כְּהִגָּלוֹת נִגְלוֹת. The explanation of this abnormal combination—according to Ew. § 240 c—is “that since according to the sense only the second form must be in the Inf. Abs., both now with slight change of form appear in the Inf. Const., because the whole sentence by reason of the Prep. בְּ follows the train of the Inf Const.” Maurer: נִגְלוֹת is Inf. Abs. (for נִגְלֹה, in order to make paronomasia with the preceding הִנָּלּוֹת). Thenius and Olshausen (Gr. p. 600) explain נִגְלוֹת as error of copyist from the preceding word.

[28][The following specimen of allegorizing on 2 Samuel 6:1 is given as a curiosity: “The thirty thousand chosen (elect) are shown by the number to have been perfected in faith, works and hope. For three refers to the Trinity, and thus denotes faith; ten refers to the Decalogue, and denotes works; thousand, the greatest of numbers, the perfect number, denotes the hope of eternal life, than which there is nothing higher. Therefore multiply three by ten, lest faith without works be dead. Likewise multiply thirty by a thousand, in order that faith, which works through love, may not hope for reward elsewhere than in heaven.” This precious morsel is found in Rabanus Maurus (ninth century), and also in an anonymous work of the seventh century, printed with the works of Eucherius.—Tr.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/2-samuel-6.html. 1857-84.
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