II Samuel 6

By Levi Clancy for לוי on

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2 Samuel 6 can be split into two sections: David brings the ark to Jerusalem, a roundabout process with much celebration in the end (2 Samuel 6:6-19); and Saul's daughter Michael criticizes David, but only his steadfast response and her lonely fate await her (2 Samuel 6:20-23). David leads a procession of 30,000 Israelite men to retrieve the ark of God so that they may bring it from the house of Abinadab to Jerusalem. The ark of God was set upon a new cart, driven by Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, and its journey began. The entire procession including David danced before the ark with all their might while music was sung and played on an array of instruments. However, while passing a threshing floor (a flat surface prepared for harvest) there were some oxen whose hooves shook the ark of God. Uzzah reached out to the ark to stabilize it, angering God who struck him dead right there.

David was scared and refused to take the ark to Jerusalem, instead bringing it to the household of Obed-edom the Gittite. There it remained for three months, conferring great blessings to Obed-edom's household and all his belongings.David then rejoiced to bring the ark to Jerusalem, sacrificing an ox and a fatling to celebrate the event, then danced with all his might amidst shouts and trumpets as it was brought to a tent that David that pitched for it. David provided many offerings, then distributed sweets and meat to all the Israelites. Everybody then went back home.

Upon arriving at his own home, David was met with his wife Michal, daughter of Saul. From her window she had seen him dancing naked as he brought the the ark into Jerusalem: "How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants' maids, as any vulgar fellow might shamelessly uncover himself!" (2 Samuel 6:20) David reminds her that the Lord chose him in place of her father as ruler of Israel, and that he is held in honor; with her father's dynasty in ruins, Michal remains bitter and is doomed to barrenness.

By bringing the ark to Jerusalem, David made the city not just a military capital but a religious center as well. While Uzzah's death left David scared of God's anger and the ark's dangerousness, the blessings bestowed upon Obed-edom signified that God was no longer angry. Also, Obed-edom's benefits from the ark serve to remind why David would want to bring the ark to Jerusalem: it would make his great non-sacred capital a sacred place, positioned between Israel and Judah as the political center, and also the axis mundi for the Israelites. Though the ark could so greatly benefit Jerusalem, it also had to be treated with respect, for if it were not for David's reverence of it then the ark could bring disaster as plentifully as it brought good.

The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there because he reached out his hand to he ark; and he died there beside the ark of God. David was angry because the Lord had burst forth with an outburst upon Uzzah; so that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. 2 Samuel 6:7-8

This is another clever pun.