The Lord seemed to throw a damper on David’s party. The Lord has established David’s kingdom and David has determined to bring the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem. There is celebration and rejoicing as the ark of the covenant begins to make its way from Kiriath-jearim to Jerusalem on a cart being pulled by oxen. But tragedy struck. As the cart was being pulled along with the ark of God on top, the oxen stumbled, Uzzah reached out to grab hold of the ark, and God killed Uzzah for grabbing the ark. This ends the celebration. David is unwilling to bring the ark into Jerusalem (6:10) and it is sent to the house of Obed-edom where the ark remained for three months.
Preparing For The Lord’s Coming (6:12-15)
The Lord has a message that he wants to send to David in a unique way. While the ark of the Lord was in the house of Obed-edom, the Lord blessed him and everyone in his house. So David understands that God is not against him. This action was not a declaration of judgment against Israel or David but because they did not treat the ark of the Lord as they were supposed to. You will notice that there is a completely different approach as they go to get the ark when compared to what they did last time. In verse 13 we see that they were not putting the ark on a cart. Rather, the ark was being carried on the shoulders like it was supposed to be carried. Not only this, but notice the care being given. When those who carried the ark took six steps, David offered an ox and a fattened animal. David asked the question three months ago, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” David learned the answer that it will come to him through sacrifice and care. Sacrifice is needed for the Lord to come near his people. Further, great care is needed for the Lord to come near his people. David is celebrating, dancing before the Lord, wearing a linen ephod. There is a connection back to Samuel who also wore a linen ephod before the Lord (1 Samuel 2:18). We noted that Samuel was not a priest but is looking like one as he comes before the Lord. Similarly, David is not a priest, but he looks like one as he makes sacrifices and wears a linen ephod before the Lord.
The Arrival of the Lord (6:16-23)
In verse 16 we see the ark of the Lord coming into Jerusalem. All of Jerusalem is celebrating the arrival of the Lord into Jerusalem, except one person. David’s wife, Michal, is watching from a window. But notice that she is not said to be his wife but the daughter of Saul. The indication is that she is like her father and not like her husband. She is watching the celebration from a window and is not participating in the joy of the Lord coming to Jerusalem. She sees David leaping and dancing before the Lord and she despises him in her heart for what he is doing.
The ark of the covenant is brought into the tent that David made for the Lord. David offered burnt offering and peace offerings before the Lord. After the sacrifices, David pronounced blessings on the people and all the people receive a distribution of food. It is a day of joy and blessings as the Lord has come home to be with his people. But on this day of joy, listen to Michal’s criticism of David.
And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (2 Samuel 6:20 ESV)
Now it is important to understand what she is charging him with doing. She is not saying that he was naked and all the servant women saw him. You will notice that her complaint is how the king honored himself today. Her concern is not a modesty issue but a honor issue. David stripped himself of all his kingly attire and simply wore an ephod. David did not act like a king or look like a king during all of this. David has lowered himself and is not acting like a king. Have some dignity! Have some honor!
David’s response is beautiful in verses 21-22. David answers that he was in the presence of the Lord. When you are in the presence of the Lord, there is no room for honoring yourself or distinguishing yourself. In fact, he says he will lower himself even further. His own glory does not matter. What does matter is God’s glory! He will be humiliated for the honor of the Lord. Remember that Saul repeatedly worried about what the people thought of him. We see her daughter having the same kind of thinking. But David does not care what the people think of him. He will look like a common servant in the presence of the Lord. David says that by lowering himself there will be more honor. Honor comes by honoring the Lord, not by seeking honor for yourself. His kingship was given to him by God and he will celebrate before the Lord like the rest of the people.
We can see in verse 23 that David was correct because condemnation is on Michal. God does not bless her with children, showing that her criticism of David was wrong. Further, she should have been down with the people celebrating the arrival of the Lord into Jerusalem, rather than standing back in her room looking out a window.
Picture of the Anointed
Yet again we see more pictures of Jesus as presented through the life of David, the Lord’s anointed. In this we see David humbling himself before the Lord. He does not go around looking like a king. He does not go around acting like a king. He will honor the Lord, not himself. This is what the New Testament describes Jesus doing also. Think about how he lived and what he did while on the earth. He did not walk around acting like a king. The only crown that was put on his head was a crown of thorns. He did not walk around telling people to honor him or bow down to him. He honored others, healing them, helping them, teaching them, and even washing his disciples’ feet. The apostle Paul makes the point explicitly in his letter to the Philippians.
He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)
The humility of our king is an amazing picture because kings simply do not act like this. But in David we are seeing a picture of humility, a picture that will be perfectly seen when Jesus comes.
I want to draw our attention back to what we saw in the last lesson from chapter 6. Remember that we saw the problem with Uzzah before the Lord. We learned that we can be too casual with our worship. God is a dangerous and holy God and we must approach him with great care. We do not get to come to him however we want to come to him. We must approach him the way he says to approach him.
But I want to consider the other side of this coin with Michal. Rather than being too casual with the Lord, you will notice that she is too cold toward the Lord. Rather than worshiping, rather than being filled with joy and praising the Lord, she is in her window watching all that is happening. What a contrast between David and Michal! It is a terrifying picture of having a cold heart toward the Lord. Where is her joy in the Lord? Where is her excitement about the arrival of the Lord’s presence in Jerusalem? Why does she not want to be outside with the rest of the people praising the Lord and celebrating?
One of the concerns I maintain over the years a concern that we approach God without emotion. In watching the manipulation of emotions that can happen in other churches and watching how there are those who celebrating without knowledge, we can be tempted to remove our emotion from the worship of the Lord. We can make the Lord and his word an academic pursuit. We are just going to learn but not be excited about what we are learning or doing. Friends, there should always be an excitement about our worship while maintaining our minds. We should be overwhelmed when we realize that we are worshiping in the presence of the Lord. When we pray, we are coming into God’s presence and our words are entering his very throne room. When we sing, we are taking the opportunity to praise the Lord who loves us and saved us and allows us to be in his presence. When we read the word of the Lord, there is to be such joy over the words we are hearing. There is to be a conviction of our hearts as the word of the Lord pierces us with the message of who he is and what he has done for us. The Lord’s Supper is a convicting time where we think about the sacrifice of Jesus and what our sins required. The Lord’s Supper is also a time of joy because it is only because Jesus’ sacrifice that we have a covenant that forgives our sins and brings us into relationship with him.
When we worship, we need to consider if we have engaged our hearts like David, praising God and engaging God from sincere hearts or if our hearts are up in the window looking down on all that is happening. We must make sure that we are not going through the motions. We must make sure that we are not making an appearance or sitting a pew. Worship is never watching. Worship requires participation of mind, heart, and body. Worship is not for watching. We must challenge ourselves to be mentally and emotionally engaged with every aspect of worship to the Lord. God warned Israel about honoring him with their lips but having their hearts far from him (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8).
But let us end the lesson by looking at this from another angle. When we look at Michal remaining in her room, looking out the window, we need to think about the cause. It is not enough to just say that she should have been out there just as much as it is not enough for me to say that we need our minds and emotions engaged as we worship. We need to ask why this is not happening. You see that there must have been a heart problem with Michal. She did not care about the presence of the Lord. She did not care that the ark had come back to Jerusalem. She was completely unmoved by God and what all of this meant for Israel. This is the problem that we are being shown. There is no joy in the Lord because there is a problem with the heart. When we do not have a love for worship, then there is a problem with the heart. We are revealing to ourselves that we really do not care. David is all in and Michal is completely out because they have two different hearts. If we do not have joy in the Lord, then this text is trying to tell us that there is something wrong with us. There is not something wrong with God. There is not something wrong with his word. There is not something wrong with his worship. There is something wrong with us. We must look and see what is blocking us from experiencing God in a way that loves and appreciates who he is and what he has done. Often the problem is that our love has grown cold. We have left the love we had at the first. We have come to love other things and this world more than we love the Lord. Is the Lord our joy or is the Lord our duty?