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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
2 Samuel 6

 

 

Verses 1-23

David's kingdom having been established, he is rightly concerned that God should have His true place as in highest authority over Israel. The ark was the symbol of the throne of God, yet had been in the obscurity of the house of Abinidab in Baale (or Kirjath-Jearim -- Joshua 15:9). Thus, through the history of Saul, God's authority was obscured, but David wants this in the place of highest prominence. He therefore gathers thirty thousand chosen men of Israel in view of his commendable purpose. But he made the tragic mistake of not inquiring from the Lord about this first. Since, as he knew, God was in authority, how inconsistent it was for him not to consult that authority on the matter of bringing the ark up to Jerusalem. Certainly that was where it should be, but David had forgotten God's appointed means of transporting the ark, and evidently the priests, who should have known this well, were not concerned to inform him.

They set the ark on a new cart (v.3), apparently thinking this was giving it due honor. Were they merely following the example of the Philistines when they returned the ark to Israel after having captured it and suffered for doing so (1 Samuel 6:7-9)? God's method was only for the Levites of the family of Kohath to carry the ark by means of the staves (Exodus 25:13-14; Numbers 3:27-32), though named "priests" in Joshua 4:16-17. Philistines might ignore this, but Israel must not. In fact, the Philistines gave more credit to God than did the Israelites on these occasions, for the Philistines left the cart without drivers and without a man going before it. They decided to let God direct the oxen, and there was no difficulty. The Israelites had two drivers as well as the man before. No doubt they thought they should take every human precaution to see that the ark was well conducted. This was not faith.

With great joy David and many minstrels played numbers of instruments to celebrate the coming of the ark to Jerusalem. But this was suddenly and shockingly interrupted when Uzzah, a driver, reached out to steady the ark when it was shaken by the oxen. God immediately struck him dead (vs.6-7). Uzzah was the son of Abinidab in whose house the ark had remained for many years (1 Samuel 7:12), but neither Uzzah nor anyone else in that house had touched the ark before, or they would have been killed. No doubt what he did was on the spur of the moment and with concern that the ark should not fall, but the throne of God does not need the steadying of men's hand.

Though Uzzah, in reaching for the ark to steady it, acted without premeditation, yet his effort was an actual insult to God's authority, and he died. This was a lesson needed by David and all Israel. The responsibility for bearing witness to God's sovereign authority (as symbolized in the ark) is not to be placed upon oxen and a cart, but upon the shoulders of the Levites, the sons of Kohath (Numbers 3:27-32). Today every believer too, as the Levite Kohathites were, is responsible to bear Christ upon his shoulders as the One who sustains the throne of God's glory. They actually did not touch the ark, but bore it with staves. This witness is not to be left to any organization that man devises, a new cart with its impersonal "oxen" to energize it. Too often God's people leave their responsibility to their "denomination" and bear no personal witness to Christ in His place of gracious sovereign authority. Let us carry the ark by its staves on our own shoulders, while having utmost respect in not daring to touch it, that is, to give Christ His place of highest sanctification, altogether above the need of our defending or protecting Him.

David was not only subdued before God that day, but displeased (v.8). Were his motives not right in ringing the ark to Jerusalem? If so, why should God kill Uzzah for doing a very natural thing? But right motives alone do not secure God's approval. They must be accompanied by obedience to God's Word. David did not yet realize that the ark should be carried by the Kohathites, and it is more sad still that the priests did not discern the reason for this tragedy. David feels that the Lord is telling him that he ought not to bring the ark to Jerusalem. Why did he forget to consult the Lord at this time at least? For this failure he deprived himself of the privilege of having the ark at Jerusalem for three months. He decided to have it placed in the house of Obed-edom a Gittite (vs.10-11)

It appears evident that Obed-edom treated the ark with becoming respect while it was in his house, and during its three months there God signally blessed him and his household. The news soon reached David that because the ark was in Obed-edom's house the Lord had specially blessed him, so that David now decided that he would have the ark brought to Jerusalem, which was done with gladness (v.12).

It is not reported here that David had realized his mistake at this time, But 1 Chronicles 15:12-13 shows this plainly, that the Lord had made a breach because "we sought Him not after the due order." This time, therefore, we read of those who "bore the ark" (v.13) and that they had only begun to walk when David offered sacrifices to the Lord. This indicates a more becoming attitude than previously, for it involves the putting down of the flesh in order that Christ may be exalted. Our only real relationship to God is on the basis of the sacrifice of Christ. David accompanied this with his own personal dancing before the Lord, not with his kingly garments, as though he was of any importance in comparison to what the ark signified; but being clothed with a linen ephod (or tunic). This speaks simply of practical righteousness, a far more important thing than man's dignified outward position of honor. David's whole heart was manifestly in what he was doing.

As the procession came into the city with the shouting of the people and accompanied by at least one trumpet, Michal, the daughter of Saul, was only interested enough to look through a window. She had not the concern of a godly Israelite to be present to take part in giving God His place in the kingdom. The whole matter meant nothing to her, and when she saw David taking a lowly place at this time, she despised him in her heart. This is merely the unholy pride of the flesh. Her father Saul would never have done what David did: he was too interested in maintaining his own royal dignity.

The ark was set in a tent that David had pitched for it in Jerusalem. This was God's center, and yet there was to be no temple for the ark until the days of Solomon. Nothing is said of the character of this tent, as to whether it was the same as "the tabernacle in the wilderness." But when the ark was set there David again offered burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. This is the important reminder that God's presence in Israel is only to be enjoyed on the basis of the value of the sacrifice of Christ. The burnt offerings speaks of what God receives from that sacrifice, and the peace offering involves both God's and man's sharing in the value of it, in vital concord.

When God is given His true place, it is inevitable that the people will be blessed. David delighted to bless them in the name of the Lord of hosts. More than this, he gave to every individual adult in Israel, women as well as men, a loaf of bread, a good sized piece of meat and a cake of raisins. This shows too that those who give the Lord His place will also be glad to be generous toward others.

Following David's placing the ark in its tent and his blessing of Israel, he returned to bless his own household. But Michal was in no condition to be blessed. She was ready with her caustic, sarcastic tongue to grossly insult her husband, the king: "How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!" (v.20). Of course this uncovering only referred to David's divesting himself of his royal apparel. Michal was so spiritually blind as to have no discernment that the greatest of human beings has no place of special honor before God: all are on the same humbled level.

David therefore answered her that what he had done was "before the Lord," a vitally important matter. More than this, he reminds her that the Lord had chosen David as king above her father Saul and above all Saul's house. God's choice was a man who would humble himself before God, not one who always sought to proudly exalt himself Therefore David would celebrate before the Lord (v.21).

The only right way to do this was in the humbling of self, and David would be willing to be more undignified than this for the sake of the honor of the Lord. As to the maidservants of whom Michal spoke, he knew that this would not depreciate the honor they would give him (v.22). They had more sense than did Michal, for they would recognize that the man who takes a lowly place before the Lord is the one who can be trusted in the place of authority over men.

God's government also intervened in this serious matter, and He decided that Michal would have no children to the day of her death. A woman who ignores the things of God, shows little respect for her husband, and has no children, must surely have a miserable existence. But it is a mercy she had no children, for she could not have taught them the humility of true faith in the living God.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/2-samuel-6.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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