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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
2 Samuel 6

 

 

Verses 1-23

CRITICAL AND EXPOSITORY NOTES—

2Sa . "Chosen Men." Keil understands this assembly to have been composed of representatives of the ntire nation, but the use of the word again seems to point to a military gathering. Thenius remarks that we learn from this "that David already in a certain sense maintained a standing army."

2Sa . "All the people," etc. "These are not the above-named thirty thousand warriors, but besides them, the representatives of the whole nation gathered to the festival as described in 1Ch 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 as to the accompaniment of the ark by the people." (Erdmann.) "Baale of Judah." From 1Ch 13:6, we know that this was Kirjath-jearim where the ark was carried before the death of Samuel. It still retained its ancient Canaanitish name (Jos 15:9; Jos 15:60) in conjunction with the one given by the Israelites. "It lay on the border between Judah and Benjamin, westward on the border of the latter tribe and about eight miles west of Jerusalem." (Erdmann.) "Whose name." etc. The rendering of this phrase is difficult; it is probably "over which, or upon which, the Name is called (or invoked) the Name of Jehovah, etc. The name of God denotes all the operations of God through which He attests His personal presence in that relation into which he has entered to man, i.e., the whole of His divine self-manifestation, or of that side of the divine nature which is turned towards men."—(Herzog.)

2Sa . "A new cart". This mode of conveyance was in direct opposition to the Divine requirement (Num 7:9), and was probably borrowed from a custom of the Philistines and others, who are supposed to have had sacred carts on which to carry about their gods. "Abinadab." The ark had been standing in the house of Abinadab from the time when the Philistines sent it back into the land of Israel, i.e., about seventy years, viz., twenty to the victory of Ebenezer (1 Samuel 7), forty years under Samuel and Saul, and about ten years under David. The further statement that Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, drove the cart may easily be reconciled with this. These two sons were either born about the time when the ark was taken to Abinadab's house, or at a subsequent period; or else the term sons is used, as is frequently the case, in the sense of grandsons. (Keil and others.) "Gibeah," rather, the hill.

2Sa . "Accompanying the ark." Literally, with the ark. This sentence not fitting the sense, most critics suppose a copyist's error, and omit either the whole of 2Sa 6:4, or the first clause of it.

2Sa . "Played." Literally, were sporting, i.e., dancing to vocal and instrumental music "All manner of instruments," etc. Literally, with all manner of cypress-woods, which makes no sense, hence many critics adopt the reading of the Septuagint, "with might and with songs," as in 1Ch 13:8. "Harps" (kinnor). A stringed instrument, which apparently more resembled the guitar than our modern harp, since it was played on in walking. "Psalteries" (nebel). (See 1Sa 10:5) "Timbrel" (toph). A species of hand-drum or tambourine. "Cornet" (menana). An instrument which consisted of two rods fastened together at one end, upon which rings were hung which made a tinkling sound when shaken.

2Sa . "Nachon's threshing floor". Nachon is not a proper name. Erdmann translates "a fixed threshing floor," i.e., "one which did not change its place like a summer floor (Dan 2:35), and therefore probably had a roof." Keil and others read "the threshing floor of smiting, or of the stroke, conjecturing that it was so called from the incident which took place there. "Shook it." rather, stumbled, thereby making it likely that the cart would be overturned.

2Sa . "Error." "None could so much as look at the ark, much less touch it (Num 4:15-16; Num 4:20), without peril of life."

2Sa . "Displeased". "The word denotes angry excitement." (Erdmann.) On further reflection, David could not fail to discover where the cause of Uzzah's offence, which he had atoned for with his life, really had lain, and that it had actually arisen from the fact that he, (David) and those about him had decided to disregard the distinct instructions of the law with regard to the handling of the ark." (Keil.) "Perez-uzzah," or the rent or breach of Uzzah. The situation of this place is unknown, but Josephus says that it retained its name in his day.

2Sa . "Afraid." "David's excitement at what had occurred was soon changed into fear of the Lord." (Keil.) "Obededom the Gittite." A Levite of the family of the Korahites, who descended from Kohath (comp. Exo 6:16; Exo 6:18; Exo 6:21, with 1Ch 26:4); he was therefore one of the family whose special duty it was to bear the ark. He is generally supposed to have been called the Gittite from his birthplace, the Levitical city of Gathrimmon, in the tribe of Dan (Jos 19:45). The name of this man is literally serving, or servant of, Edom. "It may be surmised that he, or some ancestor of his, had once been in servitude to the Edomites." (Transr. of Lange's Commentary.)

2Sa . "They that bare." This shows that the Divine requirements were now strictly complied with. (See 1Ch 15:11-15.) "Six paces," This is sometimes understood to mean that a fresh sacrifice was offered at every six paces, but there is nothing in the text to favour such an assumption—the plain statement is that as soon as the bearers had advanced the first six paces, the offerings took place. (So Keil, Erdmann, and others.)

2Sa . "David danced." "As emotions of joy or sorrow express themselves in movements or gestures of the body, efforts have been made among all nations, but especially among those of the south and east, in proportion as they seem more demonstrative, to reduce to measure and to strengthen by unison the more pleasurable—those of joy. The dance is spoken of in holy Scripture universally as symbolical of rejoicing … and in the earlier period is found combined with some song or refrain (Exo 15:20, etc.) … more especially in those outbursts of popular feeling which cannot find vent in voice or gesture singly. Nor is there any more strongly popular element traceable in the religion of the ancient Jews than the opportunity so given to a prophet or prophetess to enkindle enthusiasm … more especially among the women, themselves most easily stirred and most capable of exciting others. The dance was regarded even by the Romans as the worship of the body … and Plato certainly reckons dancing as part of gymnastics. So far was the feeling of the purest period of antiquity from attaching the notion of effeminacy to dancing that the ideas of this and of warlike exercises are mutually interwoven." (Smith's Biblical Dictionary.) "A linen ephod." "The white ephod was, strictly speaking, a priestly costume, although in the law it is not prescribed as the dress to be worn by them when performing their official duties, but rather as the dress which denoted the priestly character of the wearer (see at 1Sa 22:18); and for this reason it was worn by David in connection with these festivities as the head of the priestly nation of Israel." (Keil.)

2Sa . "Michal," etc. As has been remarked on 2Sa 6:14, the women of the Jewish nation, and especially those nearly related to the heroes of the occasion, were accustomed to take the most prominent part in the demonstration (Exo 15:20; Jud 11:34), hence Michal should herself have led the female choir and have come out to meet David and the ark, and her absence shows, in a very marked manner, her want of religious sympathy. Keil remarks that "in David she only loved the brave hero and exalted king," not the servant of God.

2Sa . "In his place," etc. "That is, in the space marked off according to the tabernacle which still stood in Gibeon, in the Holy of Holies." (Erdmann.) "Why did not David remove the mosaic tabernacle to Mount Zion at the same time as the ark of the covenant, and so restore the divinely-established sanctuary in its integrity? This question can only be answered by conjectures. One of the principal motives for allowing the existing separation of the ark from the tabernacle to continue may have been that, during the time the two sanctuaries had been separated two high priests had arisen, one of whom officiated at the tabernacle of Gibeon, whilst the other (Abiathar) had been the channel of all Divine communications to David during his persecution, and had also officiated as high priest in his camp; so that he could no more think of deposing him from the office which he had hitherto filled, in consequence of the reorganisation of the legal worship, than he could of deposing Zadok, of the line of Eleazar, the officiating high priest at Gibeon. Moreover, David may from the very first have regarded the service which he instituted at Zion as merely a provisional arrangement." (Keil.) "David offered." "Of course not in his own person, but through the priests." (Erdmann.)

2Sa . "He blessed," etc. "Not the Aaronic blessing (Num 6:22), which pertained only to the high priest, but, like Solomon's (1Ki 8:55), a concluding benedictory address to the whole people." (Erdmann.)

2Sa . "A piece," etc. The words of flesh have no counterpart in the Hebrew; most translators read a measure or cup, and may signify anything (probably here a portion of the sacrifice) measured out. A flagon of wine is not in the original, which ought to have been rendered a grape or raisin cake, i.e., dried grapes pressed into a cake.

2Sa . "Uncovered himself in the eyes of the hand-maids." This means simply that David exchanged his royal robes for the simple and comparatively short priestly dress and led the female choir which Michal should have led herself. Some have suggested that in the word handmaids Michal refers to the other wives of David, of whom she was probably jealous. There is no equivalent in Hebrew to the word shamelessly, and the words naked and uncovered are often used by sacred and other ancient writers in a comparative and limited sense.

2Sa . "Before the Lord." "This expression denotes the holiest and highest point of view whence David's procedure in this festival is to be judged and estimated." (Erdmann.)

2Sa . "I will yet he more vile," etc. "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 (translated of in Eng. vers.) his fellowship and equality with these humble folk and pointing to the honour which he with them would have before the Lord." (Erdmann.) So also in substance Keil, though some scholars contend that the Hebrew proposition may be rendered of or before, and explain that David refers to the honour which he received and valued from those whom Michal despised.

2Sa . "No child." As is well known, the greatest humiliation which could befal any oriental woman, and especially one who might have hoped to be the mother of the heir to the throne. Some have, however, supposed that she had children before this event.

NOTE.—Psalms 14, 15, 23, 24. are referred by Hengstenberg to this occasion Dean Stanley says, "No less than seven Psalms, either in their traditional titles, or in the irresistible evidence of their contents, bear traces of this festival. The 29th (by its title in the Sept.) is said to be on the ‘going forth of the tabernacle.' As the tabernacle was never moved from Gibeon in David's time, the ark is probably meant. The others are the 15th, 24th, 30th, 68th, 132nd, 141st." (See also his remarks in the Suggestive Comments.) The manner in which Psalms 24 was probably sung is thns described by Dr. Kitto:—"The chief musician, who seems to have been the king himself, appears to have begun the sacred lay with a solemn and sonorous recital of these sentences. ‘The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.' The chorus of vocal music appears then to have taken up the song, and sung the same words in a more tuneful and elaborate manner; and the instruments fell in with them, raising the mighty declaration to heaven. We may presume that the chorus then divided, each singing in their turns, and both joining at the close, ‘For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods." This part of the music may be supposed to have lasted until the procession reached the foot of Zion, or came in sight of it, which, from the nature of the inclosed site, cannot be till one comes quite near to it. Then the king must be supposed to have stepped forth and begun again, in a solemn and earnest tone, ‘Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall shall stand in His holy place?' to which the first chorus responds, ‘He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity nor sworn deceitfully.' And then the second chorus gives its reply, ‘He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.' This part of the song may, in like manner, be supposed to have lasted till they reached the gate of the city, when the king began again in this grand and exalted strain, ‘Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in;' which would be repeated then, in the same way as before, by the general chorus. The persons having charge of the gates ask, ‘Who is this King of glory?' to which the first chorus answers, ‘It is Jehovah, strong and mighty: Jehovah, mighty in battle;' which the second chorus then repeats in like manner as before, closing with the grand refrain, ‘He is the king of glory: He is the King of glory.' We must now suppose the instruments to take up the same notes, and continue sounding them to the entrance of the tabernacle (or tent) which David had prepared. There the king again begins: ‘Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.' This is followed and answered as before—all closing by the instruments sounding, and the people shouting, ‘He is the King of glory.'"

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE CHAPTER

THE REMOVAL OF THE ARK TO ZION

In this chapter we have—

I. Extraordinary religious emotions overflowing into extraordinary modes of expression. When a river has been long pent up and impeded in its flow, the removal of the dam at last is the signal for an extraordinary rush of the waters—such a rush as will make it impossible to confine them within the ordinary and appointed channels, but must for a time cause them to overflow the river banks. David's soul had long been filled with deep gratitude to God for the extraordinary blessings which had been bestowed upon him, and this gratitude had kindled within him lofty and holy aspirations and desires which until now he had been unable fully to express. But now that the obstacles are removed and he finds himself established over Israel, elected alike by God and man to shepherd the chosen people, his deep emotion breaks through all conventionalities, and his gratitude for the past and hope for the future are too deep and strong to keep within the limits of ordinary expression, and the overflow of feeling must for a time have a wider channel. There are ever and anon such souls as that of David rising above the dead level of ordinary religious experience, who are at times the subjects of such deep religious enthusiasm as to demand extraordinary and special modes of expressing it.

II. Extraordinary religions emotion expressing itself by a deed of permanent and beneficent influence. The gold in the molten state is gold, and has a certain value; but if it is to be useful to mankind the glowing liquid metal must pass into solid coin. So feeling is good, and its outward and personal manifestation is lawful and right. But if it begin and end there, it is like gold which is always in the crucible, and never makes the world the richer by its existence. David's deep emotion did not expend itself in singing and dancing before the Lord. These were but the accompaniments to a deed by which he gave a permanent expression to his feelings, and brought down blessing upon all under his influence. The removal of the ark to Zion at the earliest opportunity after the settlement of the kingdom was not only a testimony to David's own faith in Jehovah, but a call to all Israel to restore the God of their fathers to His rightful place in their midst, and so to build their national unity upon a secure foundation. If we had no other guarantee for the reality and purity of David's religious fervour, this great national act would be sufficient to show its genuineness and worth. Thus far we have looked only at the bright points of the picture; we must also regard the shadows in it. The circumstances surrounding the death of Uzzah teach us—

III. That under the influence of strong emotion we are in danger of being betrayed into irreverence. Though we allow the pent-up river some extension of its ordinary bounds, it must be prevented if possible from exceeding all limits and so becoming a means of destruction instead of blessing. But here is the difficulty and the danger. So is it with us all when our emotional nature has full sway over us in matters connected with the service and worship of God. When we are wholly occupied in contemplating His infinite love and condescension, we are apt to lose sight of His awful holiness and majesty, and our joy betrays us into irreverence and neglect of some plain command. It must have been such a transport of feeling which tended to make David at this time so strangely neglectful of God's express command respecting the ark. We must not forget that the general confusion of the country, and the long banishment of the ark from the public service of God, had no doubt tended to render even the best men less conversant with the Divine requirements than they would have been in happier times, but it seems strange that such a man as David should not have been careful to observe all things written in the book of the law upon this matter. We can only account for it by remembering how prone even good men are to perform one holy duty at the expense of another, and either to approach God in worship with irreverent familiarity or to stand too far off in mere external observance of forms and ceremonies. From the closing incident in the chapter we learn—

IV. How impossible it is for hearts untouched by love to God to enter into the feelings of one under its dominion. To Michal the transports of David seemed more like the excitement of a madman, and his expressions of deep feeling foolish and degrading performances. But this was because she lacked that sympathy with him which is the only key to the soul of another, and without which all its deepest and holiest experiences must remain a mystery. And sympathy is only possible where there is some similarity of feeling and experience, and there is none between a godly and a godless person upon the most vital and soul-stirring subjects. Michal could as little enter into David's feelings as Judas could into those of Mary when she broke the box of perfume over the head of her Lord, or as Festus could into those of Paul when the prisoner in bonds discoursed with such glowing enthusiasm to those who sat in pomp upon the judgment seat. To those who have no spiritual life religious fervour is looked upon either as fanaticism or hypocrisy, and the purest actions attributed to the most unworthy motives. This is a trial to which all eminent servants of God are exposed, and sometimes, as in the case before us, it comes through those who are near and dear according to the flesh, though far off according to the spirit. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1Co .)

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

2Sa . What a contrast to the ordinary rule of public life, and of private life too! Where shall we find the public men, whose first concern is for the honour of God, and who really believe that the favour of the Highest is the true palladium of their country's welfare? Or when, in private life, shall the rule be reversed, to give to temporal interests and worldly comforts the first share of attention—while the cause of Christ … is either wholly neglected, or served with mere scraps and fragments? "If I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear?—Blaikie.

2Sa . It must be men's care "that their deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God" (Joh 3:21). Two things make a good Christian—good actions and good aims. A good aim maketh not a bad action good, as here, and yet a bad aim maketh a good action bad, as we see in Jehu.—Trapp.

A man would think this act deserved commendation rather than punishment, for, alas! what should he have done? The ark had long sojourned in his father's house, and he and his brother had done (at least as he conceived) acceptable service about it. In this present removal, by the king's appointment (at least by his consent) as his brother went before to guide, so his place was behind to attend and help.… He saw the oxen staggering, the cart shaking, the ark rolling and he (as it should seem) next at hand, and who would not have put forth his hand in such a case? Had the ark actually fallen through his neglect, would not the whole multitude have cried shame upon him and perchance done worse unto him? The Philistines would have blasphemed, that the ark of the God of Israel had now at length caught a fall, as well as their Dagon had formerly before the ark. Devotion in the people would have been abated, religion scandalized, God's ordinances and holy mysteries less reverenced and esteemed. But infinite such pretensions weigh nothing, where the law of God, and obedience required of man are laid in the contrary scale.—Bp. Prideaux.

2Sa . The special moral of this warning is, that no one, on the plea of zeal for the ark of God's Church, should resort to doubtful expedients and unlawful means for the attainment of his end. Let him not say, that for the advancement of the Church of God, all acts are pleasing to Him. No; if the vessel of the Church is tossed with storms, the disciples may not approach and touch Him with familiar irreverence in order to awake Him who sleeps as man, but who sees all things as God. Here is the trial of their faith. Let them tarry the Lord's leisure, and He will rise and succour them, and bless them for their trust in Him.—Wordsworth.

You must rather leave the ark of the Church to shake, if so it please God, than put unworthy hands to hold it up.—Lord Bacon.

This interruption of a joyful festival was to everyone a new admonition, that the kindness and grace of God are never alone, but are always accompanied by his holiness. God never permits it that anyone should sin, and yet, sinning, should rejoice and be glad before him. If his benevolence tends to draw us aside to levity and presumption, we will soon see Him exchange gentleness for severity, though He thereby imbitter to us the fairest day of our lives. In educating us, God cares more that we should fear Him (with the more of a child-like spirit the better) as the Holy One, and as demanding holiness in us, than that we should always prosecute our pilgrimage-journey here below with unclouded joy. He therefore causes it frequently to happen that we are compelled, in the midst of the superabundance of our prosperity and of our joy, suddenly to join in the lamentation of Job, "Thou art become cruel to me; with thy strong hand thou opposest thyself against me."—Krummacher.

Uzzah here was struck down at the inauguration of a new era in the Jewish worship; and Ananias and Sapphira were punished in the same way in the early infancy of the Christian Church.

Now the connection of this latter case with that of Uzzah here will show you how we in these days can be guilty of Uzzah's sin. The Corinthians were guilty of it when, forgetting the sacred character of the Lord's Supper, they became intoxicated at the table of the Lord; and we shall be guilty of it if, with hearts estranged from God, and lives which are inconsistent with His Word, we presume to connect ourselves with His Church, and take part in the management of its affairs. David, therefore, rightly read the meaning of the breach of Uzzah when, in addition to rectifying his error by putting the ark on the shoulders of the priests, he sang these words: "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart;" and unless we who are members of the Church have this character, we shall be guilty of Uzzah's sin.—Taylor.

2Sa . 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 angry and self-complacent, and presently dejected, irritated and disposed to give up altogether. (2Sa 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. of Lange's Commentary.

2Sa . I do not hear David say, Surely this man is guilty of some secret sin that the world knows not; God hath met with him, there is no danger to us; why should I be discouraged to see God just? We may go on safely and prosper. But here his foot stays, and his hand falls from his instrument, and his tongue is ready to tax his own unworthiness: "How shall the ark of the Lord come unto me?" That heart is carnal and proud that thinks any man worse than himself. David's fear stays his progress: perhaps he might have proceeded with good success, but he dares not venture where he sees such a deadly check. It is better to be too fearful than too forward in those affairs which do immediately concern God. As it is not good to refrain from holy businesses, so it is worse to do them ill: awfulness is a safe interpreter of God's secret actions, and a wise guide of ours.—Bp. Hall.

2Sa . See here the courage and faith of Obed-edom; he knew that the presence of the ark had been disastrous to Dagon, and had brought plagues on the Philistines, and that the men of Bethshemesh had been struck dead for looking into it, and that Uzzah had been smitten for touching it; and yet he gladly welcomed it and harboured it for three months, and God blessed him for his faith. Obed-edom well knew that though "God is a consuming fire" to those who treat Him with irreverence, He is infinite in mercy to those who obey Him. The Gadarenes, smitten with fear, besought Jesus to depart out of their coasts, and we do not hear that He ever visited them again. But Zaccheus, animated by love, received him gladly, and Jesus said, "This day is salvation come to this house." (Luk 19:9.) All divine things are set, as Christ Himself was, "for the fall and rising again of many in Israel" (Luk 2:34), they are a savour (or odour) of death unto death to those who reject or despise them, but "an odour of life unto life" to those who love them. (2Co 2:16).—Wordsworth.

While the ark brought the plague everyone was glad to be rid of it; but when it brought a blessing to Obededom, they looked upon it as worthy of entertainment. Many will own a blessing ark, a prospering truth; but he is an Obed-edom indeed that will own a persecuted, tossed, banished ark.—Trapp.

2Sa . 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.—Scott.

2Sa . Now the sweet singer of Israel revives his holy music, and adds both more spirit and more pomp to so devout a business. I did not before hear of trumpets, nor dancing, nor shouting, nor sacrifice, nor the linen ephod. The sense of God's past displeasure doubles our care to please Him, and our joy in His recovered approbation; we never make so much of our health as after sickness, nor ever are so officious to our friend as after an unkindness.—Bp. Hall.

Evidently this service was not looked on as a toilsome one, but as a happy occasion, admirably adapted to raise the spirits and cheer the heart. What was the nature of the service?… In spirit it was bringing God into the very midst of the nation; and on the most prominent pedestal the country now supplied, setting up a constant memento of the presence of the Holy One.… To those who knew Him as their reconciled Father, the service was inexpressibly attractive. Why should there not be more joy in the worship of this gracious God? Why should our praises not be, at times at least, more lively, fitted to express and deepen such feelings of exuberant delight in the presence of a covenant God?—Blaikie.

2Sa . This was the greatest day of David's life. Its significance in his career is marked by his own pre-eminent position: Conqueror, Poet, Musician, Priest, in one.… But the Psalms which directly and indirectly spring out of this event reveal a deeper meaning than the mere outward ritual. It was felt to be a turning point in the history of the nation. It recalled even the great epoch of the passage through the wilderness. It awoke again the inspiriting strains of the heroic career (Psa 68:7-9, comp. Jud 5:4) of the Judges.… That glory which fled when the ark was taken was now returning. From the lofty towers the warders cry, "Who is this King of Glory?" The old heathen gates will not at once recognise this new comer. The answer comes back, as if to prove by the victories of David the right of the name to Him who now comes to His own again, Jehovah, the Lord, the Mighty One.… This is the solemn inauguration of that great name by which the Divine Nature was especially known under the monarchy. As, before, under the patriarchs, it had been known as Elohim, the strong ones'—as through Moses it had been Jehovah—the Eternal,—so, now, in this new epoch of civilisation, of armies, of all the complicated machinery of second causes, of Church and State, there was to be a new name expressive of a wider range of vision opening on the minds of the people. Not merely the Eternal solitary existence—but the Maker and Sustainer of the host of heaven and earth … were now attracting the attention and wonder of men. Not merely the Eternal Lord of the solitary human soul, but the Leader and Sustainer of the hosts of battle, of the hierarchy of war and peace that gathered round the court of the kings of Israel.… This great change is briefly declared in corresponding phrase in the historical narrative which tells how David "brought up the ark of God whose name is called by the name of the Lord of Hosts." This was indeed as the 68th Psalm describes it, a second Exodus. David, was, on that day, the founder not of freedom only, but of empire—not of religion only, but of a Church and commonwealth.—Dean Stanley.

The ark had been the witness to the people that they were one people, because they had the one God dwelling in the midst of them while they were shifting their tents continually in the wilderness. It was to be the same truth to those who were dwelling in settled habitations.… It spoke to them, as it had to the others, of a permanent Being, of a righteous Being, always above His creatures, always desiring fellowship with them, a fellowship which they could only realise when they were seeking to be like Him. "Lord, who shall ascend to Thy tabernacle?" "who shall dwell in Thy holy hill?"—so spake David as he brought the ark to its resting place. "Even he that hath clean hands and a pure heart." … The moral being of the nation, then, as of each individual in it, stood in the confession of a person absolutely good, the ground of all goodness in His creatures, accessible to them while they sought Him with fear and reverence as the King, Protector, Friend, of each and all.—Maurice.

2Sa . This was a most characteristic act—an index of that delight in the comfort and welfare of his people that marked the character of David. It may be that the practice is liable to abuse, … yet it was a pleasing feature of this memorable occasion. It has a lesson especially appropriate to wealthy Christians on occasions of lawful rejoicings. In the olden time the festival of Christmas used to be thus observed, and there were far worse things about the old feudal system than the flowing hospitality which used to make poor men feel that times of refreshing for the soul opened men's hearts to their bodily wants. It would be quite in the spirit of David's example for wealthy Christians to make communion seasons and similar occasions times of ample distribution.—Blaikie.

2Sa . Let us learn from the conduct of David in retiring to bless his house, that public religious services should not be allowed by us to interfere with the discharge of the duties of family religion. After such a day as that which we have attempted to describe, David might have imagined that he had a good excuse for omitting all domestic worship; but it rather seemed that the devotions of the day gave him new zest for the exercises of the family altar. And this is what always ought to be. It is to be feared, however, that many among us content themselves with a mere go-to-meeting piety, and seem to believe that religion consists in a round of public religious services. They attend all manner of holy convocations. You see them at every important devotional meeting you take part in. But they rarely enter the closet; they never bless their houses; and their lives are just as selfish and unspiritual as are those of multitudes who make no profession of attachment to Jesus whatever. I do not make light of the ordinances of God's worship; on the contrary, I believe them to be most serviceable in feeding the fire of piety within the heart. But what I mean to say is, that piety does not consist in attending on these means of grace, and that our engagement in public services must never be made an excuse by us for the neglect of household duties. "Why did you not come to church last night," said one working-man to another, on a Monday morning; "our minister was preaching a third sermon on the duty of family religion; why did you not come?" "Because," was the reply, "I was at home doing it." I would like to see not less earnestness in attendance at the sanctuary but more of this "at home doing it."—Taylor.

A man may be as zealous as he pleases about what relates to this life only, and yet be had in admiration; but to be zealous in religion seems to be regarded a mark of imbecility. Devotion to God alone is regarded as something degrading—something unworthy the dignity of man—which renders him a fit subject for the finger of scorn to point at—for the ridicule or contempt of a world that lieth in wickedness.—Lindsay.

2Sa . It is hard for the best men to recriminate without some tincture of tartness, and to keep quick the fire of zeal without some smoke of sin.—Trapp.

2Sa . If David had not loved Michal dearly, he had never stood upon those points with Abner: he knew that if Abner came to him, the kingdom of Israel would accompany him; and yet he sends him the charge of not seeing his face, except he brought Michal, Saul's daughter, with him; as if he would not regard the crown of Israel while he wanted that wife of his: yet here he takes her up roundly, as if she had been an enemy. All relations are aloof off, in comparison of that betwixt God and the soul: "He that loves father, or mother, or wife, or child, better than me (saith our Saviour), is not worthy of me."—Bp. Hall.

1. We should be afraid of censuring the devotion of others, though it may not agree with our own sentiments, because, for aught that we know, the heart may be upright in it, and who are we, to despise those whom God has accepted?

2. If we can approve ourselves to God in what we do in religion, and do it as before the Lord, we need not value the censures and reproaches of men.

3. The more we are vilified for well-doing the more resolute we should be in it, and hold our religion the faster, and bind it the closer to us, for the endeavours of Satan's agents to shake us and to shame us out of it.—Henry.

2Sa . In the portrait of David, as it here appears to our view, several essential marks of a true state of grace unveil themselves before us. There are these five. We may describe them thus, in the language of the NewTestament:—

(1.) Joy in Christ;

(2.) separation from the world;

(3.) the open confession of the crucified one;

(4.) love to the people of God; and

(5.) bearing willingly the shame of the cross. But how frequently does one meet such ill-temper as that of Michal even at the present day! It displays itself when at any time one belonging to the higher ranks of life, who has been brought, through the grace of God, from the "broad way," salutes in the time of his "first love" every companion in the faith as a brother, and is happiest among those who, whether they be distinguished in rank or lowly, rejoice like himself in the Lord; worships in the same fellowship, and joins with them in spiritual songs; meeting familiarly with the lowliest among them, as if birth, position, rank, and social etiquette were the most indifferent things in the world. How frequently does one also see relations and friends change their demeanour towards such as disregard the conventional boundaries, and convert it into hateful mockery! That king himself did not escape such scorn whom history has adorned with the name of the "Confessor," and who once, when in the presence of an assembly of believing preachers, gave free expression in high excitement to the feelings of his heart, glowing with love to Christ, "I know well," he said, "it is not politic for me to say what I now utter in your presence;" but he did not, on that account, for a moment check the flow of his thoughts and feelings. But this state of pious elevation of mind never continues long. It soon gives place to the accustomed calm and uniform course of thought. David is not alway so lofty in his experience as he was on that day of festal joy. But he is deserving of pity who understands not the flapping of the eagle's wings, by which souls consecrated to God are in times of particular visitations of grace lifted up above all the boundaries of their common life, and placed in a condition where, in the emotions that fill them, they rise above all earthly things.—Krummacher.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 6:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/2-samuel-6.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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