David Brings the Sacred Chest
(1 Chronicles 13.1-14; 15.1—16.3,43)
1David brought together 30,000 of Israel's best soldiers and 2 led them to Baalah in Judah, which was also called Kiriath-Jearim. They were going there to get the sacred chest and bring it back to Jerusalem. The throne of the Lord All-Powerful is above the winged creatures on top of this chest, and he is worshiped there.
3 They put the sacred chest on a new ox cart and started bringing it down the hill from Abinadab's house. Abinadab's sons Uzzah and Ahio were guiding the ox cart, 4with Ahio walking in front of it. 5Some of the people of Israel were playing music on small harps and other stringed instruments, and on tambourines, castanets, and cymbals. David and the others were happy, and they danced for the Lord with all their might.
6But when they came to Nacon's threshing-floor, the oxen stumbled, so Uzzah reached out and took hold of the sacred chest. 7The Lord God was very angry with Uzzah for doing this, and he killed Uzzah right there beside the chest.
8David got angry with God for killing Uzzah. He named that place “Bursting Out Against Uzzah,” and that's what it's still called.
9David was afraid of the Lord and thought, “Should I really take the sacred chest to my city?” 10He decided not to take it there. Instead, he turned off the road and took it to the home of Obed Edom, who was from Gath.
11-12 The chest stayed there for three months, and the Lord greatly blessed Obed Edom, his family, and everything he owned. Then someone told King David, “The Lord has done this because the sacred chest is in Obed Edom's house.”
At once, David went to Obed Edom's house to get the chest and bring it to David's City. Everyone was celebrating. 13The people carrying the chest walked six steps, then David sacrificed an ox and a choice cow. 14He was dancing for the Lord with all his might, but he wore only a linen cloth. 15He and everyone else were celebrating by shouting and blowing horns while the chest was being carried along.
16Saul's daughter Michal looked out her window and watched the chest being brought into David's City. But when she saw David jumping and dancing for the Lord, she was disgusted.
17They put the chest inside a tent that David had set up for it. David worshiped the Lord by sacrificing animals and burning them on an altar, 18then he blessed the people in the name of the Lord All-Powerful. 19 He gave all the men and women in the crowd a small loaf of bread, some meat, and a handful of raisins, then everyone went home.
Michal Talks to David
20David went home so he could ask the Lord to bless his family. But Saul's daughter Michal went out and started yelling at him. “You were really great today!” she said. “You acted like a dirty old man, dancing around half-naked in front of your servants' slave-girls.”
21David told her, “The Lord didn't choose your father or anyone else in your family to be the leader of his people. The Lord chose me, and I was celebrating in honor of him. 22I'll show you just how great I can be! I'll even be disgusting to myself. But those slave-girls you talked about will still honor me!”
23Michal never had any children.
Having captured Zion, David resolved to make it God’s city, and to establish there the chest containing the holy things that the Philistines had captured. He recognized the ark as a symbol of God’s throne, and bringing it to Jerusalem was a sign that he recognized God as the real king of the Israelites. The death of Uzzah seems strange to us, but David had failed to obey the stipulations for moving the holy things (Numbers 4:4–6, 15, 17–20). God took these actions of David with the utmost seriousness.
And then, David “danced before the Lord” (v 16). When I think of it, as a typically cautious and conservatively oriented Canadian, I could easily have taken the same perspective of Saul’s daughter Michal upon seeing my “leader” act the way he did. After all, are not leaders supposed to exemplify dignity and decorum? Surely David’s act of dancing with all his might while wearing a priestly garment was unbefitting for a king of the nation!
But God judges the heart while we judge appearances. When confronted by Michal about his outlandish display of exuberance – which was surely vulgar performance for even the servant girls – David’s unapologetic response exposed his real intention. His dancing was a reflection of a heart that was genuinely and authentically thankful to the God of Heaven’s armies.
There may be occasions when we evaluate the actions of others that might appear to us to be a bit absurd or inappropriate. Before drawing conclusions, let’s ask God to allow us to see their action through his eyes. He may confirm our sense of caution or he may correct us with the right perspective. Let’s be prepared for his response.
I must confess that I have judged others from a wrong perspective. God, please give me the patience to wait for your perspective as I live and work with people I love.