Wednesday, March 10, 2021

2021.03.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 6

Read 2 Samuel 6

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom did David gather (2 Samuel 6:1)? How many? What were they going to do (2 Samuel 6:2)? What is the full name given to the ark here? Upon what did they set it (2 Samuel 6:3)? Who drove it? Where was the house (2 Samuel 6:4)? Who went in front? Who did what in 2 Samuel 6:5? Where are they in 2 Samuel 6:6? What does Uzzah do? Why? But what did Yahweh do (2 Samuel 6:7)? Why? With what result? How did David respond in 2 Samuel 6:8? What did he call the place? How else did David feel (2 Samuel 6:9)? What did he ask? Where wouldn’t David take the ark (2 Samuel 6:10)? But where did he? How long was it there (2 Samuel 6:11)? What did Yahweh do? What was told David (2 Samuel 6:12)? So what did he do? With what feeling? How was it being transported now (2 Samuel 6:13)? And what did David do every six paces? What else did he do (2 Samuel 6:14)? Wearing what? Who brought the ark up (2 Samuel 6:15)? How does verse 15 summarize their conduct? Where was the ark arriving in 2 Samuel 6:16? Who saw what? Before Whom was David doing it? What did she do to David? To where did they bring the ark (2 Samuel 6:17)? Then what did David do to Yahweh? And to the people (2 Samuel 6:18-19)? Where else did he go to bless (2 Samuel 6:20)? But who meets him? With what “not-blessing”? What is the main point of David’s response (2 Samuel 6:21)? In whose sight did David say he would be humbled (2 Samuel 6:22)? And by whom honored? What was the result of this conversation (2 Samuel 6:23)? 

As we move through the section of 2 Samuel in which Yahweh is establishing David in his kingdom, we come now to the climax. The climax is not the defeat of the Philistines, though that was promised and important. The climax is not the taking of what would become Jerusalem, the hill of Zion, though that will be increasingly important until the true King comes to establish His own Zion. 

The climax of establishing David is the restoration/inauguration of the fully-expressed presence of Yahweh with David via the ark of the covenant. David himself grows, in several ways, in his understanding of Yahweh here. And the chapter invites us to grow along with him.

God is much more dangerous than our enemies. It’s unclear whether the thirty thousand men in 2 Samuel 6:1 is simply the pomp of military procession or (as “choice men” implies) a security force designed to protect the ark from Philistine attack (maybe the result of their experience in 1 Samuel 4?). There was some priestly procedure (2 Samuel 6:5), but there was also some inventiveness (new cart, 2 Samuel 6:3), which is always a terrible idea in connection to that worship in which the Lord displays His utter holiness (cf. second commandment, especially in light of Deuteronomy 4). 

Uzzah miscalculated dirtiness. A sinner is much more filthy than the dirt into which he tried to stop the ark from falling (2 Samuel 6:6-7). David, however, had miscalculated dangerousness. At first he’s angry at what happened (2 Samuel 6:8). We all probably understand that. When you put a lot of effort into something, and Providence overrules your desired outcome in spectacular fashion, the consternation can be great. 

But the anger in verse 8 turns into fear in 2 Samuel 6:9—as David realizes just how dangerous Yahweh is, the man who has a sparkling success rate against human enemies decides that the ark just isn’t safe to have around. Note that this was not a transportation issue, because they still have to move it to put it in the house of Obed-Edom (2 Samuel 6:10).

God’s gracious presence brings great blessing. Obed-Edom hadn’t volunteered to keep the ark. We don’t read of them doing anything special with it. Yahweh is just pleased to bless him and all his household (2 Samuel 6:11). In the flow of the text, it seems that the Lord intended the connection between the ark and the blessing to be obvious (2 Samuel 6:12). 

God’s power cuts both ways. He has provided atonement. He has given detailed directions about the right way of approaching Him, in order that we may have confidence that we are coming not on our own terms but through His atoning terms. And so the anger (2 Samuel 6:8) that had become fear (2 Samuel 6:9) turns to gladness at the end of 2 Samuel 6:12. Now there is not the new cart of 2 Samuel 6:3, but “those bearing the ark” and blood-sacrifices in 2 Samuel 6:13.

We too may respond at first with offense at God’s just condemnation of our sin, then terror at the justness and power of that condemnation, before we at last see the provision of His atonement in Christ and rejoice that He has made a way for us to come near Him in confidence of blessing. This biblical sort of faith in Christ expresses itself, when it comes to our worship, by setting aside seemingly well-intentioned innovation and coming instead by the actions and attitudes commanded by God.

God is worthy of our humbling ourselves before Him. It’s probable that David was making the sacrifices in 2 Samuel 6:13 by means of the priests whose duty it was to actually physically conduct the sacrifice. If this was a king-oversteps-in-pride situation (e.g., Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26:16–23), it wouldn’t gel very well with the strong emphasis in the second half of our chapter on David’s humbling himself.

David’s attire (the ephod in 2 Samuel 6:14) and actions seem intended to communicate that he identifies more with the priests who are transporting the ark than with the King who sits enthroned upon it (cf. 2 Samuel 6:2): praise in 2 Samuel 6:15, humiliating/groveling movement in 2 Samuel 6:16, sacrifices again in 2 Samuel 6:17, and pronouncing not his own blessings but those of Yahweh of hosts/armies in 2 Samuel 6:18.

David recognizes that, ultimately, there is one great King in Israel, and it is not he. Rather than participate in this procession in a way that brings him praise, he instead seeks to be a means of blessing unto the rest of Yahweh’s people (2 Samuel 6:19). What a joy when the Lord gives His people humble leadership, insistent upon the peoples’ blessing. And how perfectly He has done so in great David’s greater Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Philippians 2:5–11)! 

It must have been shocking to David when he came home to be a blessing there too (2 Samuel 6:20a), but discovered that the perception from the royal window (cf. 2 Samuel 6:16) was rather different from what we see in the rest of the chapter. Of course, Michal grew up as royalty (2 Samuel 6:21), and it offends her princessly/queenly sensibilities to dress and act like servants (2 Samuel 6:20). David’s response in 2 Samuel 6:21-22 is not a justification of nakedness but a justification of humbleness, and David’s point is that when the human king takes part in the royal procession of the Heavenly King, it’s better to join in the joy of lowliness before Him than to strut one’s royal stuff. 

How much we need to hear this word, as our hearts often slip into hoping others think well of us, even when we come together to the throne of grace! Surely, there is something to be said here of wearing simple clothing, participating with zeal that is not inhibited by self-consciousness, and desire to be part of Yahweh’s blessing the others of His people with whom He has surrounded us. 

How have you dealt with the reality of God’s dangerousness? What hope do you have of blessing from Him? With what actions and attitudes do you come to worship God? How do they demonstrate humility?

Suggested songs: ARP123A “I Lift My Eyes to You” or TPH533 “Have Thine Own Way, Lord!”

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