The obscurity of the ark, during the reign of Saul, had been as great a
grievance to Israel as the insults of the Philistines. David, having
humbled the Philistines and mortified them in gratitude for that
favour, and in pursuance of his designs for the public welfare, is here
bringing up the ark to his own city, that it might be near him, and be
an ornament and strength to his new foundation. Here is,
I. An attempt to do it, which failed and miscarried. The design was
2 Samuel 6:1,2.
1. They were guilty of an error in carrying it in a cart,
2 Samuel 6:3-5.
2. They were punished for that error by the sudden death of Uzzah
(2 Samuel 6:6,7),
which was a great terror to David
(2 Samuel 6:8,9)
and put a stop to his proceedings,
2 Samuel 6:10,11.
II. The great joy and satisfaction with which it was at last done,
2 Samuel 6:12-15.
1. The good understanding between David and his people,
2 Samuel 6:17-19.
2. The uneasiness between David and his wife upon that occasion,
2 Samuel 6:16,20-23.
And, when we consider that the ark was both the token of God's presence
and a type of Christ, we shall see that this story is very
The Removal of the Ark.
B. C. 1045.
1 Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of
Israel, thirty thousand.
2 And David arose, and went with all the people that were
with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of
God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts that
dwelleth between the cherubims.
3 And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it
out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and
Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart.
4 And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was
at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the
5 And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD
on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps,
and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on
We have not heard a word of the ark since it was lodged in
Kirjath-jearim, immediately after its return out of its captivity among
(1 Samuel 7:1,2),
except that, once, Saul called for it,
1 Samuel 14:18.
That which in former days had made so great a figure is now thrown
aside, as a neglected thing, for many years. And, if now the ark was
for so many years in a house, let it not seem strange that we find the
church so long in the wilderness,
Perpetual visibility is no mark of the true church. God is graciously
present with the souls of his people even when they want the external
tokens of his presence. But now that David is settled in the throne the
honour of the ark begins to revive, and Israel's care of it to
flourish again, wherein also, no doubt, the good people among them
had been careful, but they lacked opportunity. See
I. Here is honourable mention made of the ark. Because it had not been
spoken of a great while, now that it is spoken of observe how it is
(2 Samuel 6:2):
it is the ark of God whose name is called by the name of the Lord of
hosts that dwelleth between the cherubim, or at which the name,
even the name of the Lord of hosts, was called upon, or upon
which the name of the Lord of hosts was called, or because of
which the name is proclaimed, the name of the Lord of hosts (that
is, God was greatly magnified in the miracles done before the ark), or
the ark of God, who is called the name
the name of the Lord of hosts, sitting on the cherubim upon it.
Let us learn hence,
1. To think and speak highly of God. He is the name above every name,
the Lord of hosts, that has all the creatures in heaven and
earth at his command, and receives homage from them all, and yet is
pleased to dwell between the cherubim, over the propitiatory or
mercy-seat, graciously manifesting himself to his people, reconciled in
a Mediator, and ready to do them good.
2. To think and speak honourably of holy ordinances, which are to us,
as the ark was to Israel, the tokens of God's presence
and the means of our communion with him,
It is the honour of the ark that it is the ark of God; he is jealous
for it, is magnified in it, his name is called upon it. The divine
institution puts a beauty and grandeur upon holy ordinances, which
otherwise have no form nor comeliness. Christ is our ark. In and by him
God manifests his favour and communicates his grace to us, and accepts
our adoration and addresses.
II. Here is an honourable attendance given to the ark upon the removal
of it. Now, at length, it is enquired after, David made the motion
(1 Chronicles 13:1-3),
and the heads of the congregation agreed to it,
2 Samuel 6:4.
All the chosen men of Israel are called together to grace the
solemnity, to pay their respect to the ark, and to testify their joy in
its restoration. The nobility and gentry, elders and officers, came to
the number of 30,000
(2 Samuel 6:1),
and the generality of the common people besides
(1 Chronicles 13:5);
for, some think, it was done at one of the three great festivals. This
would make a noble cavalcade, and would help to inspire the young
people of the nation, who perhaps had scarcely heard of the ark, with a
great veneration for it, for this was certainly a treasure of
inestimable value which the king himself and all the great men waited
upon, and were a guard to.
III. Here are great expressions of joy upon the removal of the ark,
2 Samuel 6:5.
David himself, and all that were with him that were musically inclined,
made use of such instruments as they had to excite and express their
rejoicing upon this occasion. It might well put them into a transport
of joy to see the ark rise out of obscurity and move towards a public
station. It is better to have the ark in a house than not at all,
better in a house than a captive in Dagon's temple; but it is very
desirable to have it in a tent pitched on purpose for it, where the
resort to it may be more free and open. As secret worship is better the
more secret it is, so public worship is better the more public it is;
and we have reason to rejoice when restraints are taken off, and the
ark of God finds welcome in the city of David, and has not only the
protection and support, but the countenance and encouragement, of the
civil powers; for joy of this they played before the Lord. Note,
Public joy must always be as before the Lord, with an eye to him
and terminating in him, and must not degenerate into that which is
carnal and sensual. Dr. Lightfoot supposes that, upon this occasion,
David penned the
because it begins with that ancient prayer of Moses at the removing of
the ark, Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered; and
notice is taken there
of the singers and players on instruments that attended, and
of the princes of several of the tribes; and perhaps those words in the
O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places, were added upon
occasion of the death of Uzzah.
IV. Here is an error that they were guilty of in this matter, that they
carried the ark in a cart or carriage, whereas the priests should have
carried it upon their shoulders,
2 Samuel 6:3.
The Kohathites that had the charge of the ark had no wagons assigned
them, because their service was to bear it upon their shoulders,
The ark was no such heavy burden but that they might, among them, have
carried it as far as Mount Sion upon their shoulders, they needed not
to put it in a cart like a common thing. It was no excuse for them that
the Philistines had done so and were not punished for it; they knew no
better, nor had they any priests or Levites with them to undertake the
carrying of it; better carry it in a cart than that any of Dagon's
priests should carry it. Philistines may cart the ark with impunity;
but, if Israelites do so, they do it at their peril. And it mended the
matter very little that it was a new cart; old or new, it was not what
God had appointed. I wonder how so wise and good a man as David was,
that conversed so much with the law of God, came to be guilty of such
an oversight. We will charitably hope that it was because he was so
extremely intent upon the substance of the service that he forgot to
take care of this circumstance.
Uzzah Slain for Touching the Ark; The Ark in the House of Obed-edom.
B. C. 1045.
6 And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor, Uzzah put
forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the
oxen shook it.
7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God
smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of
8 And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach
upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perez-uzzah to
9 And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How
shall the ark of the LORD come to me?
10 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
Obed-edom the Gittite.
11 And the ark of the LORD continued in the house of Obed-edom
the Gittite three months: and the LORD blessed Obed-edom, and all
We have here Uzzah struck dead for touching the ark, when it was upon
its journey towards the city of David, a sad providence, which damped
their mirth, stopped the progress of the ark, and for the present,
dispersed this great assembly, which had come together to attend it,
and sent them home in a fright.
I. Uzzah's offence seems very small. He and his brother Ahio, the sons
of Abinadab, in whose house the ark had long been lodged, having been
used to attend it, to show their willingness to prefer the public
benefit to their own private honour and advantage, undertook to drive
the cart in which the ark was carried, this being perhaps the last
service they were likely to do it; for others would be employed about
it when it came to the city of David. Ahio went before, to clear the
way, and, if need were, to lead the oxen. Uzzah followed close to the
side of the cart. It happened that the oxen shook it,
2 Samuel 6:6.
The critics are not agreed about the signification of the original
word: They stumbled (so our margin); they kicked (so
some), perhaps against the goad with which Uzzah drove them; they
stuck in the mire, by some. By some accident or other the ark was
in danger of being overthrown. Uzzah thereupon laid hold of it, to save
it from falling, we have reason to think with a very good intention, to
preserve the reputation of the ark and to prevent a bad omen. Yet this
was his crime. Uzzah was a Levite, but priests only might touch the
ark. The law was express concerning the Kohathites, that, though they
were to carry the ark by the staves, yet they must not touch any
holy thing, lest they die,
Uzzah's long familiarity with the ark, and the constant attendance he
had given to it, might occasion his presumption, but would not excuse
II. His punishment for this offence seems very great
(2 Samuel 6:7):
The anger of the Lord was kindled against him (for in sacred
things he is a jealous God) and he smote him there for his
rashness, as the word is, and struck him dead upon the spot. There
he sinned, and there he died, by the ark of God; even the
mercy-seat would not save him. Why was God thus severe with him?
1. The touching of the ark was forbidden to the Levites expressly under
pain of death--lest they die; and God, by this instance of
severity, would show how he might justly have dealt with our first
parents, when they had eaten that which was forbidden under the same
penalty--lest you die.
2. God saw the presumption and irreverence of Uzzah's heart. Perhaps he
affected to show, before this great assembly, how bold he could make
with the ark, having been so long acquainted with it. Familiarity, even
with that which is most awful, is apt to breed contempt.
3. David afterwards owned that Uzzah died for an error they were all
guilty of, which was carrying the ark in a cart. Because it was not
carried on the Levites' shoulders, the Lord made that breach upon
1 Chronicles 15:13.
But Uzzah was singled out to be made an example, perhaps because he had
been most forward in advising that way of conveyance; however he had
fallen into another error, which was occasioned by that. Perhaps the
ark was not covered, as it should have been, with the covering of
and that was a further provocation.
4. God would hereby strike an awe upon the thousands of Israel, would
convince them that the ark was never the less venerable for its having
been so long in mean circumstances, and thus he would teach them to
rejoice with trembling, and always to treat holy things with reverence
and holy fear.
5. God would hereby teach us that a good intention will not justify a
bad action; it will not suffice to say of that which is ill done that
it was well meant. He will let us know that he can and will secure his
ark, and needs not any man's sin to help him to do it.
6. If it was so great a crime for one to lay hold on the ark of the
covenant that had no right to do so, what is it for those to lay claim
to the privileges of the covenant that come not up to the terms of it?
To the wicked God says, What hast thou to do to take my covenant in
Friend, how camest thou in hither? If the ark was so sacred, and
not to be touched irreverently, what is the blood of the
III. David's feelings on the infliction of this stroke were keen, and
perhaps not altogether as they should have been. He should have humbled
himself under God's hand, confessed his error, acknowledged God's
righteousness, and deprecated the further tokens of his displeasure,
and then have gone on with the good work he had in hand. But we find,
1. He was displeased. It is not said because Uzzah had affronted God,
but because God had made a breach upon Uzzah
(2 Samuel 6:8):
David's anger was kindled. It is the same word that is used for
2 Samuel 6:7.
Because God was angry, David was angry and out of humour. As if God
might not assert the honour of his ark, and frown upon one that touched
it rudely, without asking David leave. Shall mortal man pretend to be
more just than God, arraign his proceedings, or charge him with
iniquity? David did not now act like himself, like a man after God's
own heart. It is not for us to be displeased at any thing that God
does, how unpleasing soever it is to us. The death of Uzzah was indeed
an eclipse to the glory of a solemnity which David valued himself upon
more than any thing else, and might give birth to some speculations
among those that were disaffected to him, as if God were departing from
him too; but he ought nevertheless to have subscribed to the
righteousness and wisdom of God in it, and not to have been displeased
at it. When we lie under God's anger we must keep under our own.
2. He was afraid,
2 Samuel 6:9.
It should seem he was afraid with amazement; for he said, How shall
the ark of the Lord come to me? As if God sought advantages against
all that were about him, and was so extremely tender of his ark that
there was no dealing with it; and therefore better for him to keep it
at a distance. Que procul a Jove, procul a fulmine--To retire from
Jove is to retire from the thunder-bolt. He should rather have
said, "Let the ark come to me, and I will take warning by this to treat
it with more reverence." Provoke me not (says God,
and I will do you no hurt. Or this may be looked upon as a good
use which David made of this tremendous judgment. He did not say,
"Surely Uzzah was a sinner above all men, because he suffered such
things," but is concerned for himself, as one conscious, not only of
his own unworthiness of God's favour, but his obnoxiousness to God's
displeasure. "God might justly strike me dead as he did Uzzah. My
flesh trembles for fear of thee,"
This God intends in his judgments, that others may hear and fear. David
therefore will not bring the ark into his own city
(2 Samuel 6:10)
till he is better prepared for its reception.
3. He took care to perpetuate the remembrance of this stroke by a new
name he gave to the place: Perez-uzzah, the breach of Uzzah,
2 Samuel 6:8.
He had been lately triumphing in the breach made upon his enemies, and
called the place Baal-perazim, a place of breaches. But here is
a breach upon his friends. When we see one breach, we should consider
that we know not where the next will be. The memorial of this stroke
would be a warning to posterity to take heed of all rashness and
irreverence in dealing about holy things; for God will be sanctified
in those that come nigh unto him.
4. He lodged the ark in a good house, the house of Obed-edom a Levite,
which happened to be near the place where this disaster happened, and
(1.) It was kindly entertained and welcomed, and continued there
2 Samuel 6:10,11.
Obed-edom knew what slaughter the ark had made among the Philistines
that imprisoned it and the Bethshemites that looked into it. He saw
Uzzah struck dead for touching it, and perceived that David himself was
afraid of meddling with it; yet he cheerfully invites it to his own
house, and opens his doors to it without fear, knowing it was a
savour of death unto death only to those that treated it ill. "O
the courage," says bishop Hall, "of an honest and faithful heart!
nothing can make God otherwise than amiable to his own people: even his
very justice is lovely."
(2.) It paid well for its entertainment: The Lord blessed Obed-edom
and all his household. The same hand that punished Uzzah's proud
presumption rewarded Obed-edom's humble boldness, and made the ark to
him a savour of life unto life. Let none think the worse of the
gospel for the judgements inflicted on those that reject it, but set in
opposition to them the blessings it brings to those that duly receive
it. None ever had, nor ever shall have, reason to say that it is in
vain to serve God. Let masters of families be encouraged to keep up
religion in their families, and to serve God and the interests of his
kingdom with their houses and estates, for that is the way to bring a
blessing upon all they have. The ark is a guest which none shall lose
by that bid it welcome. Josephus says that, whereas before Obed-edom
was poor, on a sudden, in these three months, his estate increased, to
the envy of his neighbours. Piety is the best friend to prosperity. In
wisdom's left hand are riches and honour. His household shared in the
blessing. It is good living in a family that entertains the ark, for
all about it will fare the better for it.
Michal Despises David.
B. C. 1045.
12 And it was told king David, saying, The LORD hath blessed
the house of Obed-edom, 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 Obed-edom into the city of David with
13 And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the
LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings.
14 And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and
David was girded with a linen ephod.
15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of
the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.
16 And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David,
Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king
David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him
in her heart.
17 And they brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in his
place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for
it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before
18 And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt
offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name
of the LORD of hosts.
19 And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole
multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a
cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of
wine. So all the people departed every one to his house.
We have here the second attempt to bring the ark home to the city of
David; and this succeeded, though the former miscarried.
I. It should seem the blessing with which the house of Obed-edom was
blessed for the ark's sake was a great inducement to David to bring it
forward; for when that was told him
(2 Samuel 6:12)
he hastened to fetch it to him. For,
1. It was an evidence that God was reconciled to them, and his anger
was turned away. As David could read God's frowns upon them all in
Uzzah's stroke, so he could read God's favour to them all in
Obed-edom's prosperity; and, if God be at peace with them, they can
cheerfully go on with their design.
2. It was an evidence that the ark was not such a burdensome stone as
it was taken to be, but, on the contrary, happy was the man that had it
near him. Christ is indeed a stone of stumbling, and a rock of
offence, to those that are disobedient; but to those who believe he
is a corner-stone, elect, precious,
1 Peter 2:6-8.
When David heard that Obed-edom had such joy of the ark, then he would
have it in his own city. Note, The experience others have had of the
gains of godliness should encourage us to be religious. Is the ark a
blessing to others' houses? let us bid it welcome to ours; we may have
it, and the blessing of it, without fetching it from our
II. Let us see how David managed the matter now.
1. He rectified the former error. He did not put the ark in a cart now,
but ordered those whose business it was to carry it on their shoulders.
This is implied here
(2 Samuel 6:13)
1 Chronicles 15:15.
Then we make a good use of the judgments of God on ourselves and others
when we are awakened by them to reform and amend whatever has been
2. At their first setting out he offered sacrifices to God
(2 Samuel 6:13)
by way of atonement for their former errors and in a thankful
acknowledgment of the blessings bestowed on the house of Obed-edom.
Then we are likely to speed in our enterprises when we begin with God
and give diligence to make our peace with him, When we attend upon God
in holy ordinances our eye must be to the great sacrifice, to which we
owe it that we are taken into covenant and communion with God,
3. He himself attended the solemnity with the highest expressions of
joy that could be
(2 Samuel 6:14):
He danced before the Lord with all his might; he leaped for joy,
as one transported with the occasion, and the more because of the
disappointment he met with the last time. It is a pleasure to a good
man to see his errors rectified and himself in the way of his duty. His
dancing, I suppose, was not artificial, by any certain rule or measure,
nor do we find that any danced with him; but it was a natural
expression of his great joy and exultation of mind. He did it with all
his might; so we should perform all our religious services, as those
that are intent upon them and desire to do them in the best manner. All
our might is little enough to be employed in holy duties: the work
deserves it all. On this occasion David laid aside his imperial purple,
and put on a plain linen ephod, which was light and convenient for
dancing, and was used in religious exercises by those who were no
priests, for Samuel wore one,
1 Samuel 2:18.
That great prince thought it no disparagement to him to appear in the
habit of a minister to the ark.
4. All the people triumphed in this advancement of the ark
(2 Samuel 6:15):
They brought it up into the royal city with shouting, and
with sound of trumpet, so expressing their own joy in loud
acclamations, and giving notice to all about them to rejoice with them.
The public and free administration of ordinances, not only under the
protection, but under the smiles, of the civil powers, is just matter
of rejoicing to any people.
5. the ark was safely brought to, and honourably deposited in, the
place prepared for it,
2 Samuel 6:17.
They set it in the midst of the tabernacle, or tent, which
David had pitched for it; not the tabernacle which Moses reared,
for that was at Gibeon
(2 Chronicles 1:13),
and, we may suppose, being made of cloth, in so many hundred years it
had gone to decay and was not fit to be removed; but this was a tent
set up on purpose to receive the ark. He would not bring it into a
private house, no, not his own, lest it should seem to be too much
engrossed, and people's resort to it, to pray before it, should be less
free; yet he would not build a house for it, lest that should supersede
the building of a more stately temple in due time, and therefore, for
the present, he placed it within curtains, under a canopy, in imitation
of Moses's tabernacle. As soon as ever it was lodged, he offered
burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, in thankfulness to God that the
business was now done without any more errors or breaches, and in
supplication to God for the continuance of his favour. Note, All our
joys must be sanctified both with praises and prayers; for with such
sacrifices God is well pleased. Now, it should seem, he penned the
6. The people were then dismissed with great satisfaction. He sent
(1.) With a gracious prayer: He blessed them in the name of the Lord
(2 Samuel 6:18),
having not only a particular interest in heaven as a prophet, but an
authority over them as a prince; for the less is blessed of the
He prayed to God to bless them, and particularly to reward them for the
honour and respect they had now shown to his ark, assuring them they
should be no losers by their journey, but the blessing of God upon
their affairs at home would more than bear their charges. He testified
his desire for their welfare by this prayer for them, and let them know
they had a king that loved them.
(2.) With a generous treat; for so it was, rather than a distribution
of alms. The great men, it is probable, he entertained at his own
house, but to the multitude of Israel, men and women (and
children, says Josephus), he dealt to every one a cake of
bread (a spice-cake, so some), a good piece of flesh--a handsome
decent piece (so some)--a part of the peace-offerings (so
Josephus), that they might feast with him upon the sacrifice,
and a flagon, or bottle, of wine,
2 Samuel 6:19.
Probably he ordered this provision to be made for them at their
respective quarters, and this he did,
[1.] In token of his joy and gratitude to God. When the heart is
enlarged in cheerfulness the hand should be opened in liberality. The
feast of Purim was observed with sending portions one to
As those to whom God is merciful ought to show mercy in forgiving, so
those to whom God is bountiful ought to exercise bounty in giving.
[2.] To recommend himself to the people, and confirm his interest in
them; for every one is a friend to him that giveth gifts. Those
that cared not for his prayers would love him for his generosity; and
this would encourage them to attend him another time if he saw cause to
call them together.
David Expostulates with Michal.
B. C. 1045.
20 Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the
daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious
was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in
the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain
fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!
21 And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which
chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint
me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will
I play before the LORD.
22 And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in
mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken
of, of them shall I be had in honour.
23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the
day of her death.
David, having dismissed the congregation with a blessing, returned
to bless his household
(2 Samuel 6:20),
that is, to pray with them and for them, and to offer up his family
thanksgiving for this national mercy. Ministers must not think that
their public performances will excuse them from their family-worship;
but when they have, with their instructions and prayers, blessed the
solemn assemblies, they must return in the same manner to bless their
households, for with them they are in a particular manner charged.
David, though he had prophets, and priests, and Levites, about him, to
be his chaplains, yet did not devolve the work upon them, but himself
blessed his household. It is angels' work to worship God, and
therefore surely that can be no disparagement to the greatest of
Never did David return to his house with so much pleasure and
satisfaction as he did now that he had got the ark into his
neighbourhood; and yet even this joyful day concluded with some
uneasiness, occasioned by the pride and peevishness of his wife. Even
the palaces of princes are not exempt from domestic troubles. David had
pleased all the multitude of Israel, but Michal was not pleased with
his dancing before the ark. For this, when he was at a distance, she
scorned him, and when he came home she scolded him. She was not
displeased at his generosity to the people, nor did she grudge the
entertainment he gave them; but she thought he degraded himself too
much in dancing before the ark. It was not her covetousness, but her
pride, that made her fret.
I. When she saw David in the street dancing before the Lord she
despised him in her heart,
2 Samuel 6:16.
She thought this mighty zeal of his for the ark of God, and the
transport of joy he was in upon its coming home to him, was but a
foolish thing, and unbecoming so great a soldier, and statesman, and
monarch, as he was. It would have been enough for him to encourage the
devotion of others, but she looked upon it as a thing below him to
appear so very devout himself. "What a fool" (thinks she) "does my
husband make of himself now! How fond is he of this ark, that might as
well have lain still where it had lain for so many years! Much devotion
has almost made him mad." Note, The exercises of religion appear very
mean in the eyes of those that have little or no religion
II. When he came home in the very best disposition she began to upbraid
him, and was so full of disdain and indignation that she could not
contain till she had him in private, but went out to meet him with her
1. How she taunted him
(2 Samuel 6:20):
"How glorious was the king of Israel to-day! What a figure didst
thou make to-day in the midst of the mob! How unbecoming thy post and
character!" Her contempt of him and his devotion began in the heart,
but out of the abundance of that the mouth spoke. That which displeased
her was his affection to the ark, which she wished he had no greater
kindness for than she had: but she basely represents his conduct, in
dancing before the ark, as lewd and immodest; and, while really she was
displeased at it as a diminution to his honour, she pretended to
dislike it as a reproach to his virtue, that he uncovered himself in
the eyes of the maid-servants, as no man would have done but one
of the vain fellows that cared not how much he shamed himself. We
have no reason to think that this was true in fact. David, no doubt,
observed decorum, and governed his zeal with discretion. But it is
common for those that reproach religion thus to put false colours upon
it and lay it under the most odious characters. To have abused any man
thus for his pious zeal would have been very profane, but to abuse her
own husband thus, whom she ought to have reverenced, and one whose
prudence and virtue were above the reach of malice itself to disparage,
one who had shown such affection for her that he would not accept a
crown unless he might have her restored to him
(2 Samuel 3:13),
was a most base and wicked thing, and showed her to have more of Saul's
daughter in her than of David's wife or Jonathan's sister.
2. How he replied to her reproach. He did not upbraid her with her
treacherous departure from him to embrace the bosom of a stranger. He
had forgiven that, and therefore had forgotten it, though, it may be,
his own conscience, on this occasion, upbraided him with his folly in
receiving her again (for that is said to pollute the land,
but he justifies himself in what he did.
(1.) He designed thereby to honour God
(2 Samuel 6:21):
It was before the Lord, and with an eye to him. Whatever
invidious construction she was pleased to put upon it, he had the
testimony of his conscience for him that he sincerely aimed at the
glory of God, for whom he thought he could never do enough. Here he
reminds her indeed of the setting aside of her father's house, to make
way for him to the throne, that she might not think herself the most
proper judge of propriety: "God chose me before thy father, and
appointed me to be ruler over Israel, and now I am the fountain of
honour; and, if the expressions of a warm devotion to God were looked
upon as mean and unfashionable in thy father's court, yet I will
play before the Lord, and thereby bring them into reputation again.
And, if this be to be vile
(2 Samuel 6:22),
I will be yet more vile." Note,
[1.] We should be afraid of censuring the devotion of others though it
may not agree with our sentiments, because, for aught that we know, the
heart may be upright in it, and who are we that we should despise those
whom God has accepted?
[2.] If we can approve ourselves to God in what we do in religion, and
do it as before the Lord, we need not value the censures and reproaches
of men. If we appear right in God's eyes, no matter how mean we appear
in the eyes of the world.
[3.] The more we are vilified for well-doing the more resolute we
should be in it, and hold our religion the faster, and bind it the
closer to us, for the endeavours of Satan's agents to shake us and to
shame us out of it. I will be yet more vile.
(2.) He designed thereby to humble himself: "I will be base in my
own sight, and will think nothing too mean to stoop to for the
honour of God." In the throne of judgment, and in the field of battle,
none shall do more to support the grandeur and authority of a prince
than David shall; but in acts of devotion he lays aside the thought of
majesty, humbles himself to the dust before the Lord, joins in with the
meanest services done in honour of the ark, and thinks all this no
diminution to him. The greatest of men is less than the least of the
ordinances of Jesus Christ.
(3.) He doubted not but even this would turn to his reputation among
those whose reproach Michal pretended to fear: Of the maid-servants
shall I be had in honour. The common people would be so far from
thinking the worse of him for these pious condescensions that they
would esteem and honour him so much the more. Those that are truly
pious are sometimes manifested in the consciences even of those
that speak ill of them,
2 Corinthians 5:11.
Let us never be driven from our duty by the fear of reproach; for to be
steady and resolute in it will perhaps turn to our reputation more than
we think it will. Piety will have its praise. Let us not then be
indifferent in it, nor afraid or ashamed to own it.
David was contented thus to justify himself, and did not any further
animadvert upon Michal's insolence; but God punished her for it,
writing her for ever childless from this time forward,
2 Samuel 6:23.
She unjustly reproached David for his devotion, and therefore God
justly put her under the perpetual reproach of barrenness. Those
that honour God he will honour; but those that despise him, and his
servants and service, shall be lightly esteemed.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for '2 Samuel' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".