David’s Dance

“So David would not remove the ark of the LORD unto him into the city of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite. And the ark of the LORD continued in the house of Obededom the Gittite three months: and the LORD blessed Obededom, and all his household. And it was told king David, saying, The LORD hath blessed the house of Obededom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obededom into the city of David with gladness. And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings. And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet” (2 Samuel 6:10-15).

Introduction

Because of the death of Uzzah, David was too scared to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, so diverted it to a Gentile’s home. David would make a second attempt to convey the Ark, but not everyone was pleased with his success.

The blessing

Until he got all the facts straight, the Ark was placed in the house of Obededom the Gittite. The Gittites were Gentiles living amongst the people of Israel, and it is doubtful that his home would have been upmarket, but God delighted in blessing it. In this humble dwelling the Lord found a man with a holy and reverential fear of God. For three months he and his family were blessed by God, but we can assume that the effects of that blessing would have lasted a lifetime. It is good living in a family that entertains the ark; for all about it will fare the better for it” (John Wesley).

David was told about how much God was blessing Obededom, therefore the blessing must have been considerable and visible. The word “pertaineth” gives us the impression that the blessing was contagious, for it was not just Obededom but everyone and everything connected with him that was touch by the Lord. David, because of his swift decision to make another attempt to bring the Ark to Jerusalem, must have been surprised about the blessing Obededom received. This was not jealousy as such, but it so impressed David that he wanted the same blessing in the capital city.

The procession

David realised that everything must be done after God’s word if the Ark was to be brought to Jerusalem without any problems. He accepted that carrying the Ark on a cart was wrong. “Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever … For because ye did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order” (1 Chronicles 15:2, 13). The Ark would be housed in the Tabernacle until the Temple could be built for it; so David “prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched for it a tent” (1 Chronicles 15:1).

The procession was made up of Levites carrying the Ark. It was a large crowd of eight hundred and sixty-two men. The Ark itself would be carried by the priests. “And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites, for Uriel, Asaiah, and Joel, Shemaiah, and Eliel, and Amminadab, And said unto them, Ye are the chief of the fathers of the Levites: sanctify yourselves, both ye and your brethren, that ye may bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel unto the place that I have prepared for it” (1 Chronicles 15:11-12). No one took any aspect of the event for granted. “So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel” (1 Chronicles 15:14).

All these were a mighty choir singing and playing musical instruments all the way to Jerusalem. “And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of music, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy” (1 Chronicles 15:16). The songs were not spontaneous, as some suppose, but were planned and taught to those who would be singing. “Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song: he instructed about the song, because he was skilful” (1 Chronicles 15:22). Nevertheless, it was loud and joyous. “Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps” (1 Chronicles 15:28). The songs of Psalm 105 and 1 Chronicles 16:7-36 were composed by David to commemorate this occasion.

After every six paces an offering was made unto the Lord. 1 Chronicles 15:26 states that “they offered seven bullocks and seven rams”, but it might not mean that this happened at each stop, for the journey would have taken a long time. The text probably refers to either the beginning of the journey or the final stop in Jerusalem. These sacrifices would be both for atonement and a freewill offering. The atonement part of it is significant in light of the previous attempt to bring the Ark to Jerusalem.

So we find sacrifice, singing, shouting, music and dancing. Out text makes a point of stating that “David danced before the LORD with all his might.” The word “danced” means to “leap, skip and twirl.” This reveals that David was truly excited about having the Ark amongst the people of Israel again. He had no problems with exhibiting his feelings and emotions before the Lord and the people. Others will despise this display of heartfelt adoration, but God will deal with the sour-faced. He danced dressed in a “linen ephod”, which may suggest that he was wearing the attire of a priest. 1 Chronicles 15:27 simply says he was wearing “fine linen”, rather than his royal garments. Whatever he was wearing, we see David the worshipper rather than David the king praising God. So David, who laid by his royal robes, and put on this robe to declare, that although he was king of Israel, yet he willingly owned himself to be the Lord’s minister and servant” (John Wesley). “Be clothed with humility” (1 Peter 5:5).

Conclusion

Though everything is well planned with regards to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, we can see that it was certainly not dead and religious, but instead spiritual and lively. The fact that Scripture relates that David, and we assume others, danced throughout the procession, reveals that everything was done from the heart. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

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