Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 6 2019 - 2 Samuel 6 – The ark brought to Jerusalem

David has made Jerusalem his capital city and has built himself a grand palace that dominates this "city of David" (2 Samuel 5:9). But David does not want his name to mark this city, he wants it to become the centre of worship in Israel, a place where the Lord God of Israel is honoured and worshipped – he wants it to become "the City of God". So David decides to have the Ark of the Covenant brought to Jerusalem. As we have seen, the Ark of the Covenant was the symbol of God's presence with his people, the Lord is spoken of as being "enthroned between the cherubim". David wants to ensure that the Lord is now enthroned in Zion.

But how do you move an ark? David seemed to think that the best means of transport would be a cart pulled by oxen – it's the most efficient way to transport this heavy box from one place to another and was the method used by the Philistines when they returned the ark to Israel (1 Samuel 6). But when the oxen came to the threshing floor of Nakon, uneven ground near the floor made one of the oxen stumble and the cart rocked, threatening to upset the Ark. Uzzah, one of those accompanying the cart, put out his hand to steady the ark and was immediately struck dead by the Lord. Why such an angry response to what was intended to be a helping hand? What is going on here?

God had given instructions concerning the care of the ark. It was not to be touched except by the Levites. If it needed to be moved it should be carried by Levites using the poles that fitted through rings on the sides of the ark. David had ignored the command of God and as a result a man was dead. Do you remember Samuel's words to Saul when he had failed to wait for Samuel's arrival and had taken it upon himself to offer a sacrifice to the Lord? Samuel said, "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice" (1 Samuel 15:22). Obedience to God is more important than religious ritual. Saul's disobedience marked the beginning of him being rejected by God as king over Israel.

David was angry about what had happened (2 Samuel 6:8), but he was also afraid of the Lord (6:9). He was beginning to learn that God cannot be manipulated, nor can the throne of God (see 6:2) be made subject to King David. The Lord God is the King of kings; he is the one to whom kings and all rulers of this world must bow in recognition and obedience.

What of ourselves? Do we understand that Aslan is not a tame lion, our God is a consuming fire? The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

Three months later, David again seeks to bring the ark to Jerusalem. This time the ark is carried as God had commanded and, after a few steps, David offers a sacrifice – perhaps to atone for his arrogance and wrongdoing. The ark then continues on its way to Jerusalem accompanied by a rejoicing crowd shouting and blowing trumpets. David, dressed in a plain linen ephod or tunic, seems to have led the procession, dancing with joy before the Lord.

Michal – David's wife, Saul's daughter – sees David dancing and treats him with scorn. She seems to think that this is not how a king should behave. She comes from a royal family and believes a king should wear fine robes and maintain a dignified and elevated position among the people. David had behaved like a common servant. David's response is to say that he is happy to be humiliated in his own eyes. The Lord has given him a position of honour; he does not need to elevate himself.

Are we concerned for our own dignity and honour or for the glory of God? "Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted" (Matthew 23:12).

Holy Father, give me a fresh view of your greatness, purity and power that I may be humbled in my own eyes. Give me also to see the wonder of your grace which lifts me up to sit with Christ in heavenly places. Animate me with your Spirit and fill me with songs of joy.

Peter Misselbrook