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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

2 Samuel 6:115, 17comment (0)

July 29, 2010

By James Barnette

Related Scripture: 2 Samuel 6:115, 17


Bible Studies for Life
Associate Professor, Department of Religion, Samford University

Respect God’s Holiness
2 Samuel 6:1–15, 17

Honor God in God’s Way (1–5)

Because of his recent victories over the Philistines, David was expecting reprisals from the Israelite enemy. An attack against Israel in order to seize and destroy the Ark of the Covenant must have been attractive to the Philistines given that the Ark was located only a few miles away from their territory. In response, David brought together a large army of 30,000 men to “bring up” the Ark and move it to a more secure location. David’s army was genuinely a national force, not merely tribal. Ultimately his goal was to get the Ark to Jerusalem, as it would symbolize “one nation under God.” It was his hope that past divisions and tribal differences would be set aside for the greater purpose of unity in faith. Relocating the Ark was an idea embraced by all parties. Unfortunately David did not follow his usual practice of asking God for direction about significant ventures like this one. The Lord had given specific instructions through Moses as to how the Ark was to be erected, dismantled and transported from place to place (see Numbers 4). Overlooking these instructions, David had the Ark placed on a new cart drawn by oxen instead of having Levites carry it on their shoulders. Not only was this a direct violation of the Torah but it also followed the pattern of the pagan Philistines (1 Sam. 6).

Respect the Holiness of God (6–11)
Because he was not an Aaronic priest, Uzzah was prohibited from touching the holiest object of the Israelite faith. His conscientious effort to protect the Ark actually defiled it, and the unintended act of irreverence cost him his life. The Ark and the laws related to it were never to be presumed upon, taken for granted or treated with familiarity. To touch the Ark was to impinge on God’s holiness. Uzzah’s death evoked an awestruck question on David’s lips: “How can the Ark of the Lord ever come to me?” David came to fear God in a fresh way.

The Church needs to be reminded about the holiness of God. When people are no longer respectful or fearful of God’s holiness, the community of faith is put at risk. Furthermore no amount of unity or enthusiasm can compensate for disobedience. When we do God’s work in a worldly way, failing to follow His expectations, we cannot expect Him to bless our efforts. In fact, such imitation of the world can result in terrible consequences.   

Worship With Enthusiastic Reverence (12–15, 17)
When David heard that the Ark’s presence was blessing the household of Obed-Edom, the king was ready to bring it to Jerusalem to bless all of the people. So, after a three-month delay, the procession of the Ark was resumed. A bull and fattened calf were offered after six steps were taken. The pause after six steps might have represented a symbolic Sabbath rest, signifying a consecration of the Ark’s journey to Jerusalem.

The dancing and singing responded to the assurance that God was present, that Jerusalem was now the home of the Ark and that God had taken residence in the city of David. The mood of the event was one of unfettered, unashamed celebration. David himself broke with any royal prestige and protocol he might have assumed when he danced without restraint before the Ark and in the presence of the people. He was dressed for the occasion in a priestly linen ephod. Though he was not of the tribe of Levi, David was acting as both king and priest — a foreshadowing of Jesus, a descendant of David, who holds both offices “in the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 6; Ps. 110). In the days of Abraham, Melchizedek was both king and priest of Salem (Gen. 14); now David was worshiping as king and priest of Jerusalem. 

Following the joyful procession, the Ark was set in its place of honor. Then David “sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord.” It is unclear whether David actually officiated at these sacrifices or simply directed the Levitical priests to perform the rites. If he did perform them himself, then he might have been acting on the precedent set by Melchizedek.

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