Dancing Before the Lord
Today’s Text: 2 SAMUEL 6:1-19
The Ark of the Covenant is barely mentioned during Saul’s 40-year rule sitting neglected in the village of Baale Judah under the watchcare of Abinadab (1 Sam. 7:1).
In a foolish move some 100 years earlier, the Ark had been taken into battle by Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, mimicking pagan nations who believed idols enhanced prospects for victory (1 Sam. 4:4, 11). Instead, it was captured by the Philistines and placed in the temple of Dagon. After the fish-god Dagon repeatedly fell headlong before the Ark and the people began experiencing a widespread outbreak of vexing boils along with a rat infestation, the Philistine leaders organized a plan for an unmanned cart to carry it back to Israel.
The men of Beth Shemesh who were harvesting in the field rescued the ark as it passed by, but their inquisitive look inside resulted in the death of 57,000 men (1 Sam 6:19). Filled with fear, those who survived subsequently transferred the Ark to the home of Abinadab where it lodged all but forgotten.
Even though he had ample reason and time to do so, Saul never saw the need to relocate the Ark to a place of prominence in his kingdom. David, on-the-other-hand, realized the Ark was the symbol of God’s covenant relationship with Israel; and, he arranged for transport to the capital city of Jerusalem.
His first effort was delayed by three months when Uzzah died for touching the Ark while attempting to stabilize the load when the oxen stumbled. At this point, the ark was temporarily stored in the home of Obed-Edom, a Gittite, identifying him as a Levite from a Levitical city in Dan called Gath Rimmon, (Josh. 19:45).
Housing the Ark in his own home was a source of blessing to Obed-Edom’s entire household (2 Sam. 6:13). The text does not indicate the location of his house, but it is generally believed to have been in the environs of Jerusalem.
The obvious blessing of Obed-Edom moved David to attempt to bring the Ark to Jerusalem a second time. Once again, the procession of the Ark toward Jerusalem was accompanied by great celebration. This time, Levites carried the Ark in accordance with Levitical specifications with no mishaps (Ex.37:5; Num. 4:15).
The text records, “when those bearing the ark of the LORD had gone six paces . . . he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep” (2 Sam. 6:13). This was not an offering made every six steps all the way to Jerusalem, but rather one of consecration made after the first six steps of the journey. There would be another in Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:17).
Between the two offerings, “David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet” (2 Sam. 6:15). It was an occasion for extreme jubilation as the people joined their king in procession to Jerusalem.
2 SAMUEL 6:14-15
“Then David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet.“
Most Christians have little context for the statement, “then David danced before the LORD with all his might” (2 Sam. 6:14).
Contrary to what many think, David wasn’t making a fool of himself. He wasn’t putting on a show. He was demonstrating genuine joy among his people!
One of the most emotional moments I’ve experienced took place at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Erev Shabbat, the Eve of Sabbath. Spontaneously, three or four Hassidic men began energetically dancing the horah at the center of the Western Wall Plaza. Within seconds, the number grew to hundreds; and, in minutes there were several circles with thousands of men enthusiastically dancing and exuberantly singing “Hava Nagila.” The extreme joy of the participating throngs was palpable, invigorating and never to be forgotten.
It seems plausible that David was dancing with his subjects in a similar fashion for the entire distance to Jerusalem. When Michal, David’s wife, watched from an aloof distance through the palace window, “she despised him in her heart“ (2 Sam 5:16). What was her problem?
Actually, David’s dancing was only a pretext for her disdain. She believed it was problematic that David was motivated to honor the Lord with the same joyful abandon as one of his subjects. She repudiated the fact that he had replaced his royal robes for a linen ephod, the clothing of a common man. Michal believed David lacked the decorum befitting a king; and, where was the royal protocol on behalf of his subjects?
Ultimately, it would appear she shared the penchant for her father’s envy of David. Like Saul, Michal also shared her father’s attitude toward the Ark of the Covenant; it wasn’t a priority; there was no passion for the things of the Lord.
David was beloved by the people because he was congenial and approachable. David’s behavior demonstrated his intense zeal for the true and living God. Bringing the Ark to Jerusalem brought worship of Jehovah back to the forefront of the nation—it was the right thing to do.
David had passion and joy because God was the center of his life.
It’s simple. When you put God at the center of your life, passion for doing His will and the resulting joy will characterize yours as well.
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. Rev. McCracken is known for authenticity in communicating biblical truth that makes his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Emphasis added.)