The Rejoicing King
Make a list as a group of things in your life that you tend to take for granted.
We’ve come to enjoy watching David now as we, the reader, witness this man of God, whom God has elected to be king over Israel and to shepherd them in peace, illuminate us with regard to the Kingdom of God. He has demonstrated patience and trust in the LORD to deliver him in all situations. He inquires of the LORD no matter how confident he may feel about the outcome. He wrote the laments that the people ought to cry when their king is dead or a faithful man falls at the hand of the wicked. He shows us a kingdom that is gentle, merciful as well as just and able to bring down the enemy and the wicked. This is the kingdom of God under the reign of king David. Will he show us anything new? How else does he illustrate the Kingdom of God under the LORD Jesus Christ?
Michal was David’s wife and daughter of Saul. She was taken from him by Saul and was given to another man. Before David was enthroned, he made sure that Michal was returned to his kingdom. She was torn away from her second husband also.
All Israel have come to their senses and established David as their head. He has driven out the pestering Philistines who dogged Saul all of his reign. He has captured Jerusalem and claimed it as his own. One major event needs repairing. The Philistines had carried away the Ark of God back in 1 Samuel 4. It was passed around like a hot potato until it came to rest in Kiriath Jearim, a town of Israel but not the city of the king (1 Samuel 7:1-2). The Ark of the covenant should be in the Tabernacle. God’s promises to Abraham consisted of his descendants being a great nation named the people of God, residing in the Promised Land with God’s rule and blessing. The great nation now has the land free of enemies and sitting under the rule of a great king. We need to have the Ark returned.
Read 2 Samuel X
David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. 2 He and all his men went to Baalah z in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, b the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. 3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart 4 with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. 5 David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.
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. 7 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.
8 Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah. m
9 David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.
12 Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
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.
17 They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.
20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”
21 David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”
23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.
What did you see? (Observation)
- All the King’s horses and men went to get the ark (1-5)
- David’s mission fails (6-11)
- David humbles himself before the LORD (12-15)
- The daughter of Saul does not approve (16)
- The people are blessed through David (17-19)
- David explains why the daughter of Saul is wrong (20-23)
All the King’s horses and men went to get the ark (1-5)
“David again brought together all the able young men of Israel – thirty thousand…to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God…” This story begins with the strength of David and his men. It does not take 30,000 young men to carry a box! David is the leader of a great army. His mission: to bring back the ark of God.
“…the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark.” The story does not want us to underestimate the importance of this box. David is tasked to pick up the very worship piece that communicates that the God of all armies is in their midst and for Israel. It is an item of contract between God and Israel. It is not where God literally sits but it may as well be! And what does David equip himself with to pick up such an item? His army? This is not good. He wants to come to God with his own strength. We have come to know David and one who inquires of the LORD before going to battle but here there is no clue that David has inquired of the LORD about the ark mission. It’s as if he is treating the LORD Almighty as an equal.
“They set the ark of God on a new cart….Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab…guiding the new cart…Ahio was walking in front…David and all Israel were celebrating…” What a show. They made a new cart which is highlighted twice for us to stand out. Abinadab had been taking care of the ark. “Sons of” is not usually a title that creates confidence. The sons of Samuel were wicked. The sons of Eli were the same. These two examples come from the beginning of the 1-2 Samuel saga. We don’t expect good things when we here of “sons of”. And David is celebrating with all of Israel. This seems like a good thing but we’ll see that the attitude toward God is flippant. Over familiar.
David’s mission fails (6-11)
“…Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled.” Here is the problem of the story. Is this the right action? Will Uzzah be blessed or cursed because he reached out to aid the ark when it was in distress? Although we have empathy for Uzzah who may just have done by instinct what seemed right, he illustrates for us in this story that the LORD Almighty does not need a lift. The army of David had come to collect their God. They were carting him around like any other idol of the other nations. They did not inquire of the LORD and they are showing off their own strength.
“…God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.” The narrator does not tell us plainly what the error of Uzzah was. We must, firstly, respond in awe at the mystery of God who does not need to explain himself to anybody. But, secondly, we can follow the clues from the narrative that David and his people had approached God with force and might and self-sufficiency and presumption rather than with humility. A seemingly small incident of a bump in the road brought forth the anger of God for how his people were approaching Him. Again, He is not like some dumb idol, but is the living God Almighty.
“Then David was angry…” The response from David may be righteous or selfish. It is hard to pin down. Was he angry at God, at Uzzah or at himself? He was certainly frustrated with something. He renames the location where God’s wrath ‘broke out’ against Uzzah. Remember Baal Perez? Yahweh had broken out against the Philistines but now he has broken out against a priest of the ark. God is not someone whom you can tame.
“David was afraid…” David becomes sober-minded and realises that even he is not worthy to receive the ark. He feared the LORD. This turning point in the story shows us David realising that he had approached the LORD with strength when he should have approached with weakness and humility. But he aborts his plans to take the ark back to Jerusalem, the City of David.
“…he took [the ark] to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite…and the LORD blessed him and his entire household.” The form of the blessings was perhaps prosperity which coincides with many children (1 Chronicles 26:4-5). This Gittite was not an Israelite. The ark was residing with a foreigner and yet he is blessed. This gives David food for thought.
David humbles himself before the LORD (12-15)
“So David went to bring up the ark of God…with rejoicing…he sacrificed…” Verse 12-13 describe David’s mission to collect the ark taken back up again with rejoicing and a large dose of humility. The first being the act of sacrifice after only six steps from its resting place.
“Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might…” In contrast to the military David we saw in Verse 1, we now see a stripped down (literally) version of David. It is clear later that David is making no attempt to look awesome and important because it is the ark of God that he now wants to celebrate and praise with thanksgiving. He leads the humiliating praise and Israel joins with him. The ark is coming to Jerusalem and the people celebrate with shouts and the sound of trumpets. And so God’s people should when they know that the blessing of the LORD is with them. What is self-preservation and pride when God looks for a humble heart? I recall the response of the people of Jerusalem when Jesus came to them lowly and riding on a donkey. They went nuts for him!
The daughter of Saul does not approve (16)
“…Michal daughter of Saul watched…and…she despised [King David] in her heart.” When the ark of the LORD is brought to the City of David, Michal has her eyes and disdain on her husband. What is key here is that Michal is of the house of Saul (by name and by nature in this instance). No king of Israel ought to be parading around like this in her opinion. Leaping and dancing! How degrading for a king. She does more than disapprove of this decision – she despises him.
The people are blessed through David (17-19)
“…inside the tent that David had pitched for it…” This sounds quite shabby but he has placed a home for the ark in a tent as described in the books of Moses. 1 Chronicles 15:1 informs us of this preparation. He had made sure that in his City was the place where God would dwell with His people.
“…and David sacrificed…” David continues in worship before the LORD. Burnt offerings and fellowship offerings are not all for the forgiveness of sins. They are ways of worship and thanksgiving to Yahweh. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”
“…he blessed the people in the name of the LORD Almighty. Then he gave a loaf of bread…to each person in the whole crowd…And all the people went to their homes.” This time, the LORD did not smite anyone but came to rest, and the King blessed the people and distributed food offerings to all the people. Perhaps this is a little symbol of how the LORD would be a blessing to the people through David. He blessed ALL the people and the blessing was in the name of the LORD Almighty. It is not David and his army that is shown as great at this stage of the story but the name of the LORD that has come into the City of David. There is joy in David’s humility.
David explains why the daughter of Saul is wrong (20-23).
“When David returned home…” The blessing on all the people who were free to return to their homes (V19) is followed by what David was met with when he returned to his own home. He comes to bless but he receives contempt.
“…Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him…” She is not described as the husband of David but as the daughter of Saul. Perhaps a clue from the narrator that she is speaking from the philosophy of the old camp. What we hear from her mouth is the language of pride.
“…going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls…as any vulgar fellow would!” Michal’s resentment of David may be many layers deep. But what’s on the surface here is her disapproval of the way David has presented himself before the servants of the land. To the lowly slave girls, David has paraded around in a vulgar manner – according to Michal. He has not distinguished himself from them. To her, David should have displayed an air of importance. But this is the very thing that David started out to do and he was taught, by the wrath of God, to be humble.
“It was before the LORD…I will celebrate before the LORD.” David is not the important part of this kingdom. God is. He chooses who will be king. And they are not first and foremost David’s people but God’s people. As such, David is first and foremost a member of God’s kingdom. If humility before the LORD is required, then let all the house of David show humility.
“…who chose me rather than you father…” It feels a little childish of David to bring Michal’s father into this discussion but, given the way this story ends in Verse 23, it is Michal who needs to be rebuked and David is simply stating the facts. Again, the emphasis is not on how great David is but on how God does the choosing. As for David, he will celebrate before the LORD. He cannot say, like Joshua (Josh 24:15) “as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” But he can say, I will serve the LORD.
“I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! David promises to remain humble before the LORD and not rise above where he has gone today. No matter how large his army (6:1), David will trust in the LORD and forever give praise to Him.
“But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honour.” The proud people will envy the rich and powerful but the lowly in heart and wealth will love the humble and lowly. Jesus said, blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven and the meek will inherit the earth! Michal did not understand this honour. While David experienced the joy of humility, Michal suffered the misery of pride (to paraphrase John Woodhouse, Preaching the Word: 2 Samuel).
“And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.” This is a familiar reference to misery in the Old Testament narratives. Obed-Edom was blessed with many children but Michal was not. Saul’s house is included in this reference to misery. It was the pride of Saul, his disobedience and inability to truly repent that saw his downfall. We must not conclude that anyone without children is cursed by God. That is taking a generalised symbol of the Old Testament too far.
What did we learn? (Meaning)
Our God is not a dumb and passive idol but the living God who blesses those who come to him in humility and in truth. He does not look for strength but a thankful heart that rejoices in His strength. It is not we who carry Him but He who dwells with us. Humility is a virtue that turns our hearts to the true God in rejoicing. Pride is an evil which blinds us to the graciousness of God.
Now what? (Application)
Topic A: We must never carry a flippant attitude toward God. This definitely includes a flippant or casual attitude toward the LORD Jesus Christ. David’s power and strength were only the result of waiting on the LORD Almighty for deliverance. Yahweh owes David nothing. We are not equals with Jesus but indebted to him (with a debt that we cannot pay and he does not demand). The church that we build, the reputation that we carry are no comparison to the work that God has done for us at the cross. He is our righteousness. He delivered and called the church into being. He made us a people who were not a people. In our attitude toward God, in church and everywhere else, let us recognise that He is the LORD Almighty who choses to dwell with us out of His great mercy toward us. We only love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Topic B: Sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. If you could inherit the greatest kingdom the world has ever known and all you had to do was give praise and thanks for that – would you do it? As your mother always said (I’m guessing), “Thank you’s don’t cost you anything!” David offered free-will sacrifices to God. They were costly. God has given us an inheritance that will never spoil, perish or fade. He has done this through the sacrifice of His Son who now lives and dwells in our hearts through the Holy Spirit! I often wonder why it is so hard to celebrate the gift of forgiveness and having peace with God. David almost showed the people what it looks like to celebrate and sacrifice with praise. We sing at church because that is what Christians do and have done throughout the centuries. The people of God sang Psalms. The disciples sang with Jesus (Matthew 26:30). The church in the New Testament sang (Acts 16:25; 1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16). Even as ‘Anglicans’ we could learn to praise genuinely. “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16
Topic C: Pride and humility. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom”. Proverbs 11:2. Of course, we can take pride in something as a job well done. But that is not on display here. Michal wanted David to be distinguished and untouchable. She was bitter toward him because of it. David saw humility as a lesson learned and one that he will learn again. His joy was in praising where the praise was due. Sure, he was the king of Israel and he did have a large army. But heaven forbid that he should rob the LORD Almighty. If David was to show pride it would be in the LORD’s work and not his own. “For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16.