David brings the ark of God to Jerusalem

Chapter 6

David brings the ark of God to Jerusalem

v1 David again gathered all the men that he chose from *Israel. There were 30 000 men. v2 Then David and all his men went to the town called Baalah in *Judah. They went to bring back the *ark of God. The *ark has the name of the most powerful *Lord. The *Lord is present between the cherubim (*angels) on the top of the *ark. v3 They brought the *ark of God out from Abinadab’s house, which was on a hill. They put the *ark on a new cart. Abinadab had two sons. Their names were Uzzah and Ahio. They were leading the new cart. v4 So they brought the cart with the *ark of the *Lord on it from Abinadab’s house. Ahio walked in front of the cart. v5 David and all the people of *Israel were very excited in front of the *Lord. They sang and they played musical instruments. These instruments were called lyres, harps, tambourines, rattles and cymbals.

v6 They came to the place where Nacon used to prepare his grain. The *oxen were pulling the cart, but they nearly tripped over. When the *oxen nearly fell, Uzzah held the *ark. He did not want the *ark to fall off the cart. v7 God was very angry with Uzzah because he had done the wrong thing. God killed Uzzah. Uzzah died next to the *ark of God. v8 Then David was angry because the *Lord had punished Uzzah. So, they called that place Perez Uzzah.

v9 David was now afraid of the *Lord. David said, ‘I do not know how the *ark of the *Lord can come to me now.’ v10 David would not take the *ark of the *Lord into the city of David. Instead, David took it into the house of Obed Edom. (Obed Edom came from the city called Gath.) v11 The *ark was there for three months. The *Lord *blessed Obed Edom and all his family.

(Verses 1-11 See also 1 Chronicles 13:1-14.)

The account of this event in 1 Chronicles 13 says that David gathered men from his army. Then he gathered men from all the *tribes of *Israel. He also asked the priests and *Levites to go with him. This was an important event for the *Israelites. David was king of the whole nation. Jerusalem (the city of David) was the new capital city. David had a palace to live in. David now wanted the *ark of the *Lord to be in *Israel’s capital city. This meant that the *Lord would be present in the city. Also, it would show that the *Lord was the real king of *Israel. The *Israelites would give *sacrifices and *worship the *Lord there.

God is too great to live in any building that men may build (Acts 7:48-50). But he was present at the *ark of the *Lord. In the *Old Testament, God spoke to the priest from a place above the *ark (Exodus 25:22). In verse 2, the word ‘present’ can mean ‘sit’. This means that the *ark was like a throne (a king’s seat) for the *Lord. So, wherever the *ark went, the *Lord was present there in a special way. ‘The *ark has the name of the most powerful *Lord.’ This means that the *ark belonged to the *Lord. It was holy because it belonged to the *Lord.

In Joshua 15:9, Baalah is a different name for the town called Kiriath Jearim. The *ark had been there since 1 Samuel 7:1. King Saul had no interest in the *ark. He did not *worship the *Lord as David did. The *Israelites moved the *ark on a new cart. *Oxen pulled the cart. This is what the *Philistines did in 1 Samuel 6:7-15. But this is against the *Lord’s commands in Exodus 25:10-16 and Numbers 4:5-6,15. God had told the *Levites to put two long poles into rings in the ark. Then they carried the ark by these poles. They could not touch the ark because it was very holy. Abinadab’s family had looked after the *ark for many years. In verse 3, ‘sons’ can mean grandsons. They led the *ark on its journey to Jerusalem. The *Israelites knew that this was a special event. They had a very happy time. Lyres and harps are instruments with strings. Tambourines and rattles make a noise when you shake them. Cymbals are flat pieces of metal that you hit together. This was a very noisy procession.

Farmers had to separate the grains of wheat from the stems and the leaves. They shook the wheat into the air in order to do this. Then the wind blew the light pieces away. Each farmer did it at a particular place where the ground was flat. So, everyone knew where Uzzah died. Perhaps the ground was not in fact level there. Uzzah wanted to protect the *ark so he held it. But the *ark was holy. Uzzah had not given honour to God. So, God punished Uzzah. (God had warned about this in Numbers 4:15.) ‘Perez Uzzah’ means ‘the angry reaction against Uzzah’. Abinadab’s family should have known how to move the *ark. They should have moved it God’s way, not their own way. The happy day became a sad day for all the *Israelites.

David thought that he was doing the right thing. He wanted to give honour to the *Lord. He wanted all the *Israelites to *worship the *Lord again. But the *Lord had stopped the procession. David was angry. Then David realised how holy God was. So he became afraid of the *Lord. He did not want the *Lord to punish any more people. David did not know whether the *ark would ever go to Jerusalem. Obed Edom was probably a *Levite (1 Chronicles 26:1-8). David would not have given the *ark to an ordinary *Israelite. The *Levites knew how to look after the *ark in the proper way. Gath was probably a town in *Israel, not the *Philistine town.

v12 Now the people told David, ‘The *Lord has *blessed Obed Edom, his family and everything that belongs to them. It is because the *ark of God is there.’ So David fetched the *ark of God from Obed Edom’s house. David took it to the city of David with great joy. v13 The men who carried the *ark walked 6 steps. Then David *sacrificed a bull (male cow) and a fat young cow. v14 David was wearing a *linen *ephod. He danced with all his energy in front of the *Lord. v15 David and all the people of *Israel brought the *ark of the *Lord to the city of David. They shouted with joy and they blew *trumpets.

(Verses 12-19 See also 1 Chronicles 15:25-16:3.)

For three months the *Lord *blessed everything that Obed Edom had. David realised that the *ark itself was not the problem. The *Lord had only been angry because Uzzah had done something wrong. He had touched the ark. But then, the *Lord *blessed everyone who gave him honour. The problem was that David’s men had carried the *ark in the wrong way. They had not obeyed the *Lord. This time they carried it as the *Lord had said. And they *sacrificed to the *Lord. David was king of all the priests in *Israel. It seems that David behaved like a priest that day. He took off his royal coat to show that he was humble. And he wore a *linen *ephod. (Only the priests wore an *ephod.) In the book of Psalms, the writers often said ‘shout with joy to the *Lord’. The *Israelites were often very noisy when they *worshipped. A *trumpet is an instrument that you blow into. The priests often used a *trumpet as they *worshipped the *Lord (1 Chronicles 16:6). Everyone was excited and happy. And David was probably happier than everyone else.

Many Psalms refer to this event. For example, Psalm 24; Psalm 68:16-17, 24-27, 29, 35; Psalm 132:6-9; Psalm 47:5.

v16 As the *ark of the *Lord entered the city of David, Saul’s daughter Michal watched from her window. She saw King David. He was jumping and dancing in front of the *Lord. Then Michal felt very surprised. His actions disgusted her.

v17 David had put up a tent for the *ark of the *Lord. The *Israelites put the *ark in its place inside the tent. David *sacrificed *burnt offerings and friendship *offerings to the *Lord. v18 David finished *sacrificing *burnt offerings and friendship *offerings. Then he *blessed the people in the name of the most powerful *Lord. v19 Then he gave a gift to every *Israelite man and woman. He gave them a loaf of bread, and a round pack of dates and a round pack of raisins. (Dates and raisins are dried fruit.) After this, all the people went to their homes.

v20 David returned to his home so that he could *bless the people in his family. Saul’s daughter Michal came to meet him. She said, ‘Today you did not behave with honour as the king of *Israel should. You took off your royal coat. Even the female slaves of your servants saw you do this. And you were not ashamed.’

v21 David said to Michal, ‘I did this in front of the *Lord. The *Lord chose me as the ruler over his people of *Israel. He chose me rather than your father or anyone from Saul’s family. Therefore I will be full of joy in front of the *Lord. v22 I will be even less ashamed. And I will be more humble. But those female slave girls that you mentioned will give me honour.’

v23 Saul’s daughter Michal never had any children.

David had prepared a special tent for the *ark. This may have been like the tent that Moses made (Exodus 25-27). David gave two types of *offerings to the *Lord. The people did not have to give these *offerings. Instead the people gave these *offerings because they wanted to. However, they had to give the *offering the proper way. Leviticus chapters 1-7 describes 5 different types of *offerings that the *Israelites gave to the *Lord.

At the end of this event, David *blessed the people. ‘*Bless’ means to ask the *Lord to give people good things. The *Lord is most powerful. He gives everything that is good. Then David gave everyone a present. Everyone had enough food to eat as they went home. Dates and raisins are dried fruits (see also 1 Samuel 25:18 and 30:12). David led the *Israelites as their king. But he also led them when they *worshipped. David loved and served the *Lord. David wanted all the *Israelites to love and serve the *Lord too.

Michal was David’s wife. But this chapter always refers to her as ‘Saul’s daughter’. Michal was like her father Saul. Saul did not care about the *ark. He had not *worshipped the *Lord like David did. Saul became proud and he did not obey the *Lord. Saul cared what people thought about him. (You can read about Saul in 1 Samuel from chapter 9. Chapter 15 shows Saul’s attitude to the *Lord and other people.)

Michal had stayed in the palace. She watched the *ark of the *Lord come into the city. Michal knew that David was a brave soldier. He had become the king of the whole nation of *Israel. But she thought that this day he behaved like a foolish man. Michal saw what David did. But she did not understand how much David loved the *Lord. She did not care that David wanted to give honour to the *Lord.

In verse 20, David went to *bless his family. This included all his servants and slaves. Michal told David that his actions disgusted her. She did not respect David when she spoke to him. But David was confident. The *Lord had chosen him, not Saul’s family. Michal probably thought that David insulted her by his actions. David wanted God to have more honour and *glory. So, David was content to be more humble. Michal did not give David honour as the king. But David knew that even slaves would still give him honour as the king.

Michal did not have any children (verse 23). This suggests that she and David did not continue to live together as husband and wife. Therefore, Saul’s family could not continue through Michal. But David had other wives. And these wives gave honour to David, because David became a father by them. We do not know what happened to Michal. Probably she just lived in her own house like a widow, until she died.

1 Samuel 18:20-27 says that Michal had loved David. And David risked his life to marry her. But it seems that their marriage ended in this chapter. The Bible does not tell us anything else about Michal after this event.