“David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.” (2 Samuel 6:14-15 NRSV)
David rarely comes across a problem in which he can’t find an opportunity. As a leader he is courageous, bold, clever, pious and conniving. There’s nothing he can’t get away with.
He led the southern kingdom for several years before Israel (the northern kingdom) anointed him their king, as well.
The first question is where should the capital city be? No matter which tribal province he chooses, there will be trouble and hard feelings. Answer: the Jebusite stronghold of Jerusalem. It’s perfect. Jerusalem stands high above the surrounding land. You can see your enemy coming from a long distance. Best of all, it belongs to neither the southern nor the northern kingdoms so there will be no hard feelings.
His next challenge is how to unite the northern and southern kingdoms. His vision is to make all of Israel a great nation. That will require wealth, a strong army and a bureaucracy, among other things.
Jerusalem becomes the City of David. Those who remember a simpler time aren’t going to want to support David’s plans. What can he do to legitimate this new world order?
Answer: The Ark of the Covenant: that ancient symbol of God that’s been shelved for 20 years at Abinadab’s. The elders of the land will be thrilled to have God’s ark taken out of moth balls and put back into use. David will bring it into the new capital city, forcing everyone to comply with his plan.
It’s daring and bold. And right now, David can do no wrong.
He gathers up his men and they head out to Abinadab’s home. It’s like a military campaign: 30,000 men. They place it on a new cart and head down the hill. David leads the way with dancing and singing and instruments.
The Ark wobbles on the cart and Uzzah, apparently not thinking, reaches up to steady it. God strikes him down and he dies immediately.
David reacts in fear and anger. This is an outrage! His plan is ruined. How can his vision survive now?
He dumps the ark at Obed-Edom’s and goes home with his tail between his legs. For three long months he stews.
David may be a bold conniver, but he’s also faithful to God. He probably spent time in prayer, wrestling with God like Jacob once did, trying to figure out what went wrong.
When he receives word that Obed-Edom is blessed as a result of the presence of God’s Ark, he takes off for another try.
Only this time his fear is real and it should be. This is the ultimate representation of God: it’s a powerful symbol and you treat powerful symbols of God with utmost fear and respect. Something this awesome shouldn’t be touched under any circumstances. You tread carefully when you’re in the dangerous presence of God.
David returns and they carefully bring the ark six paces out. You can imagine those six paces. One foot in front of the other. Stop. Okay. Next step. Stop. Look around. Everyone’s okay. Next step. Stop. So far so good. They reach the end of the sixth pace and stop.
They worship and sacrifice. God has forgiven. David and his people rededicate themselves to the powerful One.
Once again, though, David steps in where he shouldn’t. A priest should be sacrificing and leading worship. Instead David dons the priestly linen ephod (it’s like an apron) and leads worship.
King Saul tried that once and lost his job.
David dances. He leads a dance that embarrasses his wife, Michal. He’s ecstatic. He’s crazy with exuberance. As political as he may be, he’s also a man after God’s own heart and his dancing speaks to his love for his Lord.
This is no time to worry about the nation or the enemy or a myriad of other issues and problems. David is clearly in the moment and loving it!
Ah, yes. David is clearly courageous, bold, clever, pious and conniving. He is a gifted leader who will eventually bring his country together into a great nation. He’s a broken man with a large ego that will eventually cross the line into adultery and murder.
Yet, his love and respect and fear for God jump off the pages of his story. He is a joyful worshiper, a contrite confessor, a bold visionary, a courageous leader. God uses these gifts to further history.
How does God use you and your gifts to further God’s history today?
All glory and honor be to God. Amen.