13 January 2022

2 Samuel 6:12-19

David danced before the LORD with all his might. (v. 14)

Psalm 52


Today's passage brings to mind God's holiness in the Old Testament, which has two aspects:

  1. God’s consistent moral character. This is revealed when God lovingly chose Israel, during the enslavement in Egypt, to be God’s treasured possession. God liberated the Israelites and made a covenant with them, giving them the Law so that they might know and obey God’s will.
  2. God’s awesome majesty, which underscores that God and humans are utterly different in nature. God’s ‘otherness’ is terrifying, even dangerous to life and limb. No one must touch a holy object without permission and always in accord with a prescribed ritual.

 Prior to today's passage, David had resolved to move the ark of the covenant (a sign of God’s holy presence and the focus of Israel’s unique vocation) from its previous location in Baale-judah (v. 2), a short distance west of Jerusalem, to David’s new capital. Such a move would unite Israel’s worship with David’s military and political power, in Jerusalem. On the way Uzzah accidentally touched the ark and dropped dead. David paused the journey and lodged the ark for three months with Obed-edom, a Philistine. (Was it thought that the ark’s holiness could not affect a non-Israelite?) Looking after the ark turned out to be a blessing for Obed-edom. This encouraged David to complete the ark’s journey to Jerusalem where it was installed in a tent, as it had been in the desert, generations earlier (Exodus 40).

 In today's passage we read how David acted as a priest (offering sacrifices in verses 13 and 17 and wearing an ephod, which was a priestly loincloth). He led ecstatic worship, which included dancing and whirling, accompanied by much noise and shouting. His wife Michal, who was King Saul's daughter and a pillar of the establishment, looked on in contempt. How unbecoming of a king to behave like that, she thought, even though he was the person on whom God’s spirit had come (1 Samuel 16:13).


To Ponder:

  • Since the coming of Jesus, Christians have focused on ‘holy persons’, or saints, that is people of faith who have a passion for justice and truth and whose lives express humble, self-giving love for their neighbours, especially the poor and vulnerable. Moreover, there is nothing dangerous in holy communion with Jesus or in being close to such saintly people. But they do merit reverence (a stronger word than ‘respect’), as indeed does everyone. What, in your experience of church, nourishes reverence for people, and what undermines it?
  • There have always been tensions between ‘mainstream’ churches, whose worship is more tightly controlled and and ‘fringe’ congregations, whose worship is more  charismatic and spontaneous, and involves a lot of movement. From your experience, what are the strengths and weaknesses of both sorts of worship? Are there implications for the regular worship in your congregation?

Bible notes author

The Revd David Deeks

The Revd David Deeks is a retired Methodist minister. He has always focused on theology and spirituality as practical themes.

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