2 Samuel 6:2 [David] and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God.
David established Jerusalem as the political center of Israel, and proceeded to make it the religious center as well. The most important religious object was the ark of the covenant, God’s very own throne on earth (1 Samuel 4:4). By bringing the ark to the capital city, David was showing that God was the true king of Israel, and David was merely his servant. The Lord Almighty—he is the King of glory (Psalm 24:10), he wrote.
David arranged a massive celebration to properly honor God. He and thirty thousand young men accompanied the ark of God in a military escort. They put the ark on a new cart, and brought it from the house of Abinadab (2 Samuel 6:3), where it had been kept for years. It was a wonderful day of music, worship and celebration. But that was about to change.
2 Samuel 6:6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled.
Perhaps the road was uneven, or there was a stone in the way. People must have gasped when they saw the ark sliding off the cart. For it to fall to the ground would have been a terrible disgrace. Thankfully, Uzzah had the presence of mind to reach out his hand and steady the ark. He saved it from falling to the ground and possibly breaking apart. But any sigh of relief was brief. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God (2 Samuel 6:7).
We might expect God to be thankful to Uzzah for saving the ark. But if anything was worse than God’s throne falling to the ground, it was for the ark to be touched by sinful hands. Dirt never rebelled against its Maker, but sinners do this daily. Letting God’s throne fall to the ground would have been better than defiling it with sinful hands.
It is also surprising that David planned this event without consulting God’s word. God provided clear instructions about how the ark was to be moved. There were rings on the side, through which poles were to be inserted, so the ark of God could be carried (Exodus 25:12-15) without being touched. God had also warned that anyone who touched the ark would die (Numbers 4:15).
Some people hope that ignorance will protect them from God’s judgment, but that did not work for Uzzah. He was ignorant of what God required, but God killed him anyway. [T]he wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), wrote Paul. This is true even if we do not know that we are sinning.
Here we also learn that our worship of God is not always pleasing to him, even when it is pleasing to us. Thousands of people praising God seems like a successful worship event. But it cannot be successful if it is not biblical. [T]rue worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth (John 4:23), said Jesus. If our worship is not governed by the truth of God’s word, it is not pleasing to God.
2 Samuel 6:8 David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah.
David planned a great event, but God ruined the party. The punishment seemed greater than the offense, and this made David angry. It also made him afraid. David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me? (2 Samuel 6:9).
David was beginning to understand that God is to be revered. He is good, kind, loving and gracious; but he is also holy and just. God often overlooks our sins (Deuteronomy 9:27), but not always. We should worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28-29), says Hebrews.
2 Samuel 6:10 [David] was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David.
David did not know if God was safe, so he sent the ark to the house of Obed-Edom. Three months later he learned that God was blessing the household of Obed-Edom because of the ark. So once again, David brought the ark to Jerusalem—not on a cart, but properly carried.
2 Samuel 6:14-15 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
This is one of the most exuberant worship scenes in the Bible. As part of the parade, David was leading God’s people in dance. This type of worship is not found in the New Testament, but it is mentioned in the Psalms.
Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp (Psalm 149:3). [P]raise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe (Psalm 150:4). God’s Old Testament people could worship enthusiastically.
2 Samuel 6:16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.
Michal was David’s first wife, and the daughter of King Saul. She was raised as a princess, and may have had ideas about how royalty should act. In her opinion, David was not acting royally. Furthermore, she may have been embarrassed by David’s full-hearted devotion to God. This led to an argument with an unhappy outcome. Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death (2 Samuel 6:23).
This may have been the judgment of God, or the judgment of David. Since David had other wives, he may have stopped sleeping with Michal, and deprived her of children. This would have been cruel, but it underscores how destructive disrespect can be to a marriage. [T]he wife must respect her husband (Ephesians 5:33), wrote Paul.
If it was the judgment of God, however, it shows that we should not despise those who are more expressive in worship than we are. God’s people should be careful not to draw attention away from God by drawing it to themselves. But if someone is more enthusiastic in worship than we are, we should not think less of them. Instead, we should consider whether our own hearts are as full of praise as they ought to be.
Reflection and Review
Why was the ark important?
What should we learn from the death of Uzzah?
What should we learn from Michal?