15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. 16 Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. 2 Samuel 6:15, 16
The ark is brought to Jerusalem: 6:1-11. Years before, in Samuel’s youth, the ark of God had been captured by the Philistines in the battle of Aphek (1 Sam. 4-6). It was returned to Israel, but has rested for seventy years at Kirjathjearim. David now determines to bring the ark to Jerusalem. Israel’s capital will also be its worship center. Deuteronomy foretold that one day God would choose a place as a “dwelling place for his name” (26:2,3). Now, through David, his choice is expressed.
David brings 30,000 warriors to escort the ark to Jerusalem. But they put it on a cart for transport. On the way, when one of David’s men reaches out to steady the ark, he is struck dead. David is both angry and afraid, and leaves the ark when the incident happens.
David is angry, but the incident has underlined the holiness and majesty of God. A sense of God’s holiness is greatly needed. Saul treated the ark with contempt, and even executed members of the priesthood (1 Sam. 22:6-19). This incident, and the example of commitment which David provides, begins a recovery of fear of the Lord (see Fear of God).
6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. 7 Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God. 8 And David became angry because of the Lord’s outbreak against Uzzah; and he called the name of the place Perez Uzzah* to this day. 9 David was afraid of the Lord that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?”
Note: Perez Uzza literally means “outburst against Uzzah.”
David now discovers regulations in the law of Moses instructing how the ark is to be moved (Num. 1:47-52). Reassured, David assembles priests and Levites, and joyfully brings the ark to Jerusalem. First Chronicles 15 details David’s careful preparations to continue the journey, and his explanation of why God’s anger book out earlier (11-15).
11 And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. 12 He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. 13 For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.” 14 So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. 15 And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord. 1 Chronicles 15:11-15
Later in his rule, David will turn his organizational genius to the reorganization of Israel’s worship system, and he will prepare for the construction of a temple which his son Solomon will build (1 Chron. 23-26).
The Ark Brought to Jerusalem
David leads in worship: 6:12-23. As David brings the ark into Jerusalem, he is caught up in worship. Dressed as the other worshipers, without robes of royalty or warrior’s armor, David dances and praises God in the streets (1 Chron. 15:27-29). His wife Michal, Saul’s daughter, watches contemptuously. She apparently despises David as a religious fanatic. But David is not thinking of the impressions of observers. David’s heart is filled with praise to his God.
Michal may have despised David’s enthusiasm, but his joyful dancing before the Lord on that occasion was no mindless abandon. It was part of a wholehearted worship, which involved David’s emotions and his intellect, and would continue to find expression in the king’s commitment to do the will of his God.
12 Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with gladness. 13 And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep. 14 Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. 16 Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. 17 So they brought the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it. Then David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 18 And when David had finished offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts. 19 Then he distributed among all the people, among the whole multitude of Israel, both the women and the men, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins. So all the people departed, everyone to his house.
20 Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, “How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” 21 So David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the Lord. 22 And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor.”