Today, I’m excited to share with you a wonderful passage of scripture. We’re going to be in 2 Samuel, chapter six, we’re going through the book of 1 and 2 Samuel together and we’re in 2 Samuel, chapter six today. We’re going to talk about a significant section of scripture here. This is the section of scripture where David has done a few things in 2 Samuel. First Samuel ends with the death of Saul and Jonathan. You remember Saul as the King over Israel, the first King of Israel, David is anointed as the second King over Israel. Saul is rejected by the Lord for being disobedient. God gave him a few direct commands he disobeyed from the Lord. And so God replaced Saul with King David. when David steps in to rule and reign over Israel, first few things he does, he unites all of Israel.
During David’s day, Israel saw themselves more as individual tribes and Saul continued that individuality under his rulership. David is really the first unite the entire kingdom, all 12 tribes together. Then one of the first things that he does is he brings the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem. This becomes the capital city under David’s rule. And 2 Samuel chapter six is really an odd passage of scripture where David is moving the ark to Jerusalem. If you’ve ever read this, there’s three just odd stories that have happened within the context of this passage.
Now, one is a man dies for touching the ark. Another is, a foreigner is blessed for possessing the ark and then David dances.And what his wife says is immodest, in First Samuel chapter six, verse 20. Sometimes you get to chapters of the Bible where you read things like that and you’re like, “What do I do with this?” Well, my hope is by the end of this, you’re going to see the beauty of the gospel made known in the Old Testament. And I hope to help you understand how to have some better dance moves, because this is the section of scripture where David dances before the Lord. I think, I really think by the end of this, you should be able to learn how to have some better dance moves. But if you look in this passage of scripture, in Second, Samuel chapter six, I want to pick up in verse two. This is where the ark of the Lord moves in.
In verse two it says, “And David rose and went with all the people who were with him to Baalah, Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name, the very name of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned above the cherubim. They place the ark of God on a new cart that they might bring it from the house of Abinidab, which is on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinidab, were leading the new cart.”
So the first thing David does in leading as the new King and uniting of Israel is to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. Now, I know when we hear the word ark of the covenant, we often think sacred furniture of Israel, there’s a lot to this, but when you just look at the word ark, the word ark is pretty simplistic. Noah built an ark and David’s moving an ark. The word ark just means a box. So Noah built a box, not very impressive in terms of a boat, he built a box and the ark of the covenant, it just means a box, but it’s the symbolism behind the ark that makes it so powerful.
That’s what 2 Samuel chapter six shares with us. It begins with us in this passage of scripture that the ark means a box, but it’s considered the holy of holies. On this box are two cherubim on either side. This was seen as the throne of God. This is where heaven collided with earth. If you talk to the Israelites during this time, you said, “where would God’s presence be?” They would respond, “In the temple at the ark.” It was considered a sacred place where God ruled and reigned.
In fact, the term that’s used in this passage in verse two is the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned above the cherubim, that’s the last phrase of verse two. This phrase, the Lord of hosts gives this image, it conjures up this image in our mind of a king who is sitting on his throne, battling and raging and warring, and also dictating and leading and directing. He is in charge. This is his position from which he takes his lead. So for Israel, the ark was the center of worship. If you wanted to get near to God, you went to the location of the ark. It’s the centerpiece of Israel.
This was a big deal to move this ark to a specific location. Up until this point, the ark moved around as God led the people of Israel. He would bring a cloud and He would stop the cloud in the place where He wanted the ark to be positioned. But now Israel in their promised land is going to set it up in a central location where people can make pilgrimages to the particular place for which the ark would be located. This ark represents God’s presence.
Now let me just say this before I dive further in this text is, in the New Testament you might ask the question, “Well, why don’t we build temples today? Why don’t we not have the ark today?” Well, the ark was the place that was also representative of where they would make sacrifices to maintain their relationship with the Lord. Once a year, the high priest would go into the temple, into what was called the holy of holies. He would make a sacrifice according to God’s law, and he would apply blood to it for the remission of sins of God’s people. What this allow God’s people to do is just continue in their relationship with the Lord as their sin was satisfied, but it was ultimately a symbol. It was a symbol of a greater representation for which Jesus would ultimately fulfill.
So when Jesus comes, he presents himself as a lamb of God. He is slaughtered for our sins and the forgiveness of our sins and his blood brings us that relationship to the Lord. No longer are the sacrifices needed because the ultimate sacrifice has been given. So the ark was a foreshadowing and the temple was a place for God’s presence to dwell. So when you read in the New Testament, First Corinthians 3:16, or in First Corinthians 6:19, it tells us that we are now the temple of God. It’s no longer about a building, but God’s presence within us, that God dwells among his people. But in the Old Testament, there was a particular place that they would go to recognize this. Now in the New Testament, it’s with his people, but seeing this in the Old Testament and seeing that David was uniting Israel and he was bringing the ark into Jerusalem, we get further into this story in verse 14, and I’ll go back in just a few, I know I’m skipping ahead a little bit. But you see starting in verse 14, that is the ark arrives into Jerusalem, or it’s on the way to Jerusalem. David starts to dance before the Lord in celebration.
Listen to this. “And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel were bringing to the ark of the Lord with shouting and the song of the trumpet. Then it happened as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, that Michal, the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord and she despised him in her heart.”
Very important passage. I’ll elaborate on a little bit in a minute, but Michal is Saul’s daughter. Saul was the previous king. David married the previous king’s daughter. So, this is her interaction with David in these moments.
Verse 17. “So they brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in this place, inside the tent, which David had pitched for it, and David offered burnt offerings and placed offerings before the Lord. But when David returned to bless his household, Michal, the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said how the king of Israel distinguished himself today and uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servant and the maids as one of the foolish ones, shamelessly uncovers himself. So David said to Michal, ‘It was before the Lord who chose me above your father and above all the house to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord over Israel. Therefore, I will celebrate before the Lord. I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes. But with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them, I will be distinguished.’ Michal, the daughter of Saul, had no children to the day of her death.”
So what’s happening here, right? It’s a interesting passage. Why does he even have to throw in verse 23 that Michal has no children until the day of her death? Well, what’s happening in this passage is Michal looks out the window when the ark’s coming into Jerusalem and she sees David celebrating in such a way that she thinks has beneath a king. She’s worried about the image that a king is presenting before the people. So she’s critical of David to the point that she despises him in her heart. She says to David, “Look, David, it’s not right for a King to be this way and you’ve just diminished your image before the people around you. You shouldn’t have done this.” So she despised David in her heart, but David’s response to her was, “Look, to me that doesn’t matter. This was before the Lord.” David in these moments was simply focused on the joy of the Lord in his life. He says to Michal that he’s even going to be more undignified than this when it comes before God’s presence, because who is David before the Lord.
He even reminds Michal in a sort of a slidey way, I think he’s just says to her, “Look, God picked me above your dad. You thought your dad was king but God put me above him and I’m below God.” So David celebrates in this particular way before the Lord and just honoring the glory of God above himself in position.
What we find in verse 23 is this drove a wedge between Michal and David, to the point where this text seems to indicate that they had no intimacy in their relationship beyond this. That this wedge was driven very, very strongly between them. And when you’ve looked at a passage like this, this becomes a place where we can potentially relate to what’s happening here, where you discover the Lord in your own life, and you have this excitement and joy for everything that Jesus is doing and you want to share that with other people, but other people just don’t have that same joy that you have, and it drives a wedge in your relationship and creates some distance. This is exactly where David is because Michal did not understand the change that happened in David’s life that led to his dancing.
How David changed in the section of scripture is the important lesson I think God wants to drive to us. It’s not just that the ark goes to Jerusalem, which is a significant thing to understand, but it’s also how David got to this place where he would just celebrate with such jubilation in his life that led him to dance proudly before the Lord, joyfully before the Lord and David was totally fixed on God and worship. He was completely free in how he sought after God. What brought David to do this?
The things that we worship in life, they can often Rob you of the joy that God desires for you to experience in Him. I mean, here you see, in this story, David is … he’s just in a regular garb, he’s not wearing the kingly attire. He’s dressed in a simplistic fashion. It’s as if he relates to all the common people in Israel, he says, “Look, I am … ” He is king over Israel, but when it comes before the Lord, he’s just a man. He’s just a man. As they celebrate the ark coming into Jerusalem, David chooses to not make it about him and how he dresses up in his attire, but to make it about the Lord and the way that he does this, is to dress simplistic simplistically.
This is what makes Michal frustrated. She thinks this king should carry this certain superiority and dignity before the people always, and David’s remark is, “Look, this is about the Lord. This isn’t about me.” And David and that jubilation just celebrates what brought David that freedom. How was David able to do that? That has to do with David’s approach to his worship.
See, a lot of us like to put on certain images to make people think that we’re better than they were. We even do that before God. Sometimes we think that we have to pretend to be people of high intelligence, so people respect us for our intelligence. Not that I don’t think it’s important to be smart, but when it comes to your intellect, you want people then if you worship intellect and you think that’s the way to seek superiority and that’s what’s important in life, being smart and being seen as smart is most important to you. When you start to not know about something, you’re afraid, you’re afraid people might find out you’re going to appear to be a fraud and you start to feel stupid and you just want to cover that up. Or, if you worship the beauty and appearance, to you you want to keep up with the trends of fashion but what you find out is beauty fades over time. Or maybe you worship money and you discover that you’re never going to have enough, or what if you have power and all of a sudden you get in those moments where you feel weak and here you thought power was so important?
What does David find in this passage? He finds this liberation, just to come before the Lord, not as King David, but just as David. This was about God’s presence before his people and Michal didn’t understand the change that had happened in David’s life. But when you read in the beginning of this story, what you find is two key lessons David learned to help him dance before the Lord in such simplicity, of just being regular David.
I mean, how easy it is when you come to church, or how joyful it should be for us when we come to church, when we gather as God’s people, we gather as his church I should say, to not have to worry about impressing others. To not have to worry about what other people think about you. To just come through the doors and let God speak to you. Let God work on you, to just let Him meet you in the raw form of who you are and just say, “Lord, have your way.” That’s where David is.
David in the story when it comes before God … Before the people, yes, he’s King David but before the Lord, he’s just David. His position doesn’t impress God. The things that he has or doesn’t have doesn’t impress God, what God desires is your heart.
That’s why David, in the beginning, he was referred to as a man after God’s own heart, First Samuel, chapter seven, verse 14. God appointed a man after his own heart. What God desires in our lives is our own heart. It’s not until we find that type of liberation that David discovers that we’re able to freely dance in celebration before the Lord, the way that God has designed us to. Michal didn’t see that. So what lessons did David learn that helped him become such a joyful dancer before the Lord?
Two key lessons David learned, this passage of scripture wants us to recognize. Verse six, “But when they came to the … ” the ark’s being moved here, “And when they carried the ark to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it and the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah and God struck him down there for his irreverence. And he died there by the ark of God.” David became angry because of the Lord’s outbursts against Uzzah and that place is called Perez-Uzzah to this day. So David was afraid of the Lord that day and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?”
First lesson David learns, and he learns it in a very strong way, is that God is to be revered. While the ark is being moved in this parade of celebrations, someone dies. I mean, have you ever thought about the quickest way to end a parade, is to let someone die in the middle of it. When you read a story like this, this seems a little bit excessive. I think sometimes this is why people stop reading the Bible. You look at in chapter six and you see Uzzah just dying for touching the ark of the covenant and the parade stops and we look at stories like this, and we say to ourselves, “Why did Uzzah die? Why did this have to happen?” But then when you start to look at the detail, the significance of what the ark represents and all that’s entailed in this story, you start to understand Uzzah died because really of Numbers, chapter four, verses five and six. In this section of scripture, in Numbers, chapter four, verses five and six, Israel had really gone so long without being in connection to the ark, God’s presence, that they forgot about the boundaries God had established with the ark. The ark was sacred.
This is where the king of kings and Lord of Lords dwelt. No one of greater authority and power. So how they treated this ark was important to the Lord and it was an important testimony to the world because it was a demonstration of the gospel. In Numbers, chapter four, verses five and six, listen to this. “When the camp sets out, Aaron and his sons … ” this is sharing with us how the ark is to be moved. “When the camp sets out, Aaron and his sons shall go in and they shall take down the veil of the screen and the cover, the ark of the testimony with it. And they shall lay a covering of porpoise skin on it and shall spread over the cloth of purple blue and shall insert its poles.”
What is saying is when the ark has moved, there’s a few rules that God wants them to obey. One is, you don’t carry the ark in the open. When you go in to get the ark, you cover it immediately. When you carry the ark, you don’t put it on a cart and move it. You carry it with poles and the people that carry it, aren’t just anybody, it’s to be the Levites, the special priests that are designated to carry this ark. This ark must never be seen, never be touched, only moved by the Levites and this was where God’s presence dwelt.
So when you look at Numbers, chapter four, and the rules that God sets out for the way he wants his ark to move in sacred reverence for his identity on this earth, every rule is being broken in the way that Israel chooses to move this ark into Jerusalem. And God, God is being gracious to these people as they place the ark on the cart and they start to move it. But what happens? Uzzah dies and why?
Uzzah died because the ark is a symbol of God’s concrete gospel message to us. God is holy, God is holy, to be revered. What this message is saying is, “Look, we just can’t approach God just in a casual manner, there is a way in which we pursue God in relationship.”
When you think about the sacredness of what the ark represents and all the religions in the world, religions in the world will create idolatry, symbols, that if you go and you touch them, that it’s supposed to bring particular blessing to you and you earn God’s favor by how you touch it and the way that it blesses you in your life. So people want to create these idols and have them in their home and be near them, but not in Scripture, not in the Bible.
Our God is holy. Our God judges sin. Our God is separate. He is to be revered. Perhaps Uzzah had a poor understanding of his position before God. Maybe he thought that if the ark had fallen to the ground, that the defilement of the soil would be worse than the sin of his own life, or maybe he thought God needed his help. Maybe he didn’t realize how sacred and powerful God was, but God doesn’t need our help. God is holy.
What did David learn in this moment? Well, a couple things in verse nine, it says to us, it said … We just read it, it said to us that David was afraid by this, when he saw Uzzah die. He was afraid by this. Then David asked the question, “How can the ark of the Lord come near to me?” That’s the last thing he says in verse nine. “How can the ark of the Lord ever come near to me?” What David is saying is how am I ever going to get near the presence of the Lord? David sees Uzzah in the unsacredness of this moment do something that God directly told his people not to do because the ark is a representation of the holiness of God. If we bring sin to his holiness, it’s death.
Now David asks this question, “How can I ever get near the presence of God?” The reality is in this message, God is more holy than we realize and He’s more sacred than we give Him acknowledgement for. The thoughts you think, the actions you take, God is aware of it all and there is judgment. What option do you have to get close to God? How could you ever get near the Lord? What do you have within yourself that you could ever offer to a sacred, holy God? I mean, Uzzah wouldn’t have been next to the ark unless he cared about the Lord. Uzzah may have been a great follower of God and who else would go along the side of the ark and make sure they’re there for the transportation of it, lest they cared about the Lord.
What do they find in that? That even in their care for God, there is still a separation between them and the Lord and it’s because of God’s holiness and their unholiness. How could you ever get close to the Lord?
Romans, chapter two in the new Testament, the apostle Paul carries in a similar way, listen to this. In Romans, chapter two, verse four, it’s not going to be on the screen, but just listen to these words that Paul says, “Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing the kindness of God leads you to repentance, but because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath. Who will render to each person, according to his deeds?” See what Paul says, even in the New Testament? That the presence of God is not to be taken lightly. God holds all of us accountable for all that we do. How could we ever approach Him? What option do we have?
You can imagine David in these moments, seeing Uzzah die and the parade stops and really the movement of the ark stops at that moment, we’ll read in just a minute, but David, then just asks the question in verse nine, how can anyone get near the presence of the Lord?
He thought he’ was bringing this ark into Jerusalem, but now he’s going to stop and just think about the way he reveres God in his own life. How can go draw near to … If we’re God’s chosen people and we can’t even be near His presence, how could we ever, ever connect to God? But then David learns a second lesson.
In verse 10, David learns that God makes outsiders become insiders because of His grace. Look in verse 10. “And David was unwilling to move the ark of the Lord into the city of David with him. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom.” So David’s so worried he stops everything and he puts it aside at the house of Obed-Edom, the Gittite. “Thus the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom, the Gittite, three months. And the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and his household. Now it was told King David saying the Lord has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him on account of the ark of God. David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom into the city of David with gladness.”
So here’s what the text wants you to recognize and it goes out of his way for you to see this, is Obed-Edom is a Gittite, and this is what it means, it’s not a Jew, he’s a foreigner. He’s an outsider. He doesn’t belong. He doesn’t fit in, he’s not with the customs of the people and what happens? God’s gracious. God makes the outsider and insider. They’re thinking in Israel, “Oh man, our people died from the ark. We don’t want to get near this thing. Let’s drop it off at the other guy’s house that’s not connected to us and let’s just leave it there.” The ark stays there for three months and not only does Obed-Edom not die, but he finds his life blessed because of the Lord’s presence in his house.
So what does David learn this? While God is sacred and God is holy and we are not to take that lightly, God is also gracious and desires to be near us. This text wants us see that even those that feel like they don’t belong, the foreigner, the outsider, they have a place before the Lord, and he gets incredible blessing. For three months, the ark stays there before it continues on to Jerusalem.
So what did David learn? God’s grace desires to still be near His people and bless them. The outsider has a place before the Lord and certainly God’s people. So what’s the result of that? When David sees these two stories transpire, that God has sacred and holy to be revered, but also God is gracious, providing a way for us to connect to Him, David’s response was to delight before the Lord. That they serve such a powerful God and as they follow that God, that God has for them. So it leads David’s heart as he comes into Jerusalem to celebrate before the Lord, to the point that David puts on an ephod and he dances just carelessly, to the point that Michal criticizes David for the way that he danced.
You think about what this represents. The ark is the story of the gospel. The ark for us becomes the place to pause and to think about the way God’s presence is represented in our lives. That God is sacred and holy, and we can play games and pretend like we’re appeasing God but the question remains, how are you really going to get near such a holy God? How could you expect to draw near to the Lord? What is it you can offer? God is so powerful and so just, and so holy that He can take the life of an individual in a blink of an eye, but at the same token, that mercy seat of God, it was a place where God’s grace was made known, where Israel would come in every year and offer a sacrifice on it, to recognize their sins need atoned for. That God desires that relationship and the only way to find it is forgiveness. Forgiveness.
David, in those moments, he strips himself of every facade that would separate him from God and just in the barren attire of the ephod, he dances before the Lord, because he recognizes before God, it’s not about him. It’s not about the way that he carries himself. It’s not about the impressions that he makes to God. It’s not about the title that he carries in life. It’s about the grace of God made known his world. David strips it all down to just himself and the king of Israel dances before the king of kings and the Lord of Lords.
He danced because he didn’t have to pretend to be something. He was a raw man in basic attire, he danced because it was the day to make much of the Lord and not about him. It was to be holy and revered and point people to God. He danced not because of his intellect, but because of his beauty, not because of his power, not because people was going to think he was popular and something amazing because he was bringing the ark into Jerusalem, had nothing to do with his will. It danced because he found a place where God offered His grace to His people.
So how do you become a better dancer? How do you have that dance before the Lord that’s pleasing to Him? I think the answer is you need a joyful passion, something that moves your soul to be thankful for and delight in. You may not have great moves, I seriously doubt David had great moves, but what David had in the streets that the people couldn’t deny, was a passion. Where did David get it? Where did he find it? In understanding the holiness of God and his depravity, and understanding how far that chasm really was between he and the Lord. I mean, he watched a man die just by touching the ark.
Now, I don’t think that we should stay in that place, but what’s important is the Bible talks about salvation and we’re not going to seek salvation until we realize how desperate we really are apart from Christ. David saw a man die by touching an ark because of the sacredness of who his God was. That’s sobering. That drives you to consider, what is the solution? Well, David in while seeing the holiness of God, he also saw this incredible God that wanted to display His grace to His people, to draw near, to have His presence among them, to let them connect to Him. If they would consider the sacredness of who He is and seek after the sacrifice that atones for their sands.
So David, in seeing this powerful God, he also recognized that in God’s grace, that God would be for him, that he even blessed a foreigner and so God could bless Israel. So in that passion of what this represents for Israel, while God is holy, mighty, powerful, that God also is gracious, loving, and caring and wants to see His people thriving in His presence. Through Uzzah, he saw the holiness of God. He saw the power of a sacred, Holy God and through Obed-Edom, he saw the love and grace of God, that blesses even the outsiders who revere Him.
When your heart rejoices in this God, it may look foolish to others like Michal. It did to David’s wife. But what it led David to do is rejoice within his heart. When I think about what this meant for David during his time period, and what I’m reminded of today is, because this is even before the cross of Christ, this is before God became flesh and died on the cross for us. If David was willing to rejoice in dancing over a box going down a street, how much more should our souls rejoice over Christ becoming flesh and given his life for you? It screams to us a God that wants to know you to the point that He gives His very life that you can connect with Him.
The cross shows us how sacred He is to be revealed, how awful sin is that separates us from God, to the point that it brings the death of Christ, but how much our hearts have to rejoice that God didn’t abandon you in your sin. That He loves you, that He wants to know you, and you from the depth of your soul have opportunity to lift your voice in rejoicing to the king of kings and the Lord of Lords who hasn’t abandoned you, but He’s made himself known. That should create a passion within us to celebrate the presence of God in our lives, that we who put our faith in Jesus become the temple of God.