Summary: We learn a lot about worship from reading of how the Israelites brought the ark to Jerusalem
Bringing the Ark to Jerusalem
Tonight we’re going to look at the story of David bringing the ark to Jerusalem. This is the ark of the covenant, that metal-covered box that God told Moses to make. It’s not Noah’s ark!
The ark was a small wooden box, covered in metal. It was, for the Jews, the visible sign of the presence of God. They looked on it as God’s throne here on the earth. When David established himself as king, he wanted to bring the ark to Jerusalem. This would show everyone that David knew that he was not the true ruler of Israel, that Israel had a true King and that King was God.
However, the first time that David tried to bring the ark, he transported it on a cart, as the Philistines had done when they returned the ark to the Israelites years before. The results were disastrous. Let’s read in II Samuel 6, starting with verse 3:
II Samuel 6:3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart 4 with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. 5 David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals. 6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7 The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.
Why did things go so wrong when David did exactly what the Philistines had done? The problem was, that wasn’t the way God had told His people to transport the ark. In Exodus and in Numbers, God told his people that the ark was to be carried by the Levites and that it was never to be touched.
Now David was angry with God, but he learned his lesson. And when he saw that the household where the ark had been left was being blessed by God, David decided to do things right. Let’s read in I Chronicles 15:11-15:
I Chronicles 15:11 Then David summoned Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel and Amminadab the Levites. 12 He said to them, “You are the heads of the Levitical families; you and your fellow Levites are to consecrate yourselves and bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel, to the place I have prepared for it. 13 It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the LORD our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.” 14 So the priests and Levites consecrated themselves in order to bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel. 15 And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the LORD.
So we learn a very important lesson: When God tells us a specific way to do something, we are to do it that way.
So this time David had the Levites carry the ark. And look what it says in verses 14-15 of II Samuel 6:
14 David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, 15 while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
David danced before God with all his might. Apparently he had removed his outer clothing and stripped down to his "linen ephod." This would have been a short, tight-fitting garment, normally worn under one’s robes. It certainly wasn’t clothing fit for a king to use in public. But David didn’t care. He was worshipping God, worshipping with all his might. Do we ever worship God with all of our might? Do you ever come out of a service feeling spent because you have fully dedicated yourself to worshipping God? Think about the last time you went to an exciting sporting event, when you jumped and screamed and cheered for your team. Do you put the same energy into praising God?
David and all the people celebrated and worshipped God with all their might. This was a national celebration. Can you imagine it? All of the people worshipping God.
Well, almost all. Let’s read in verse 16:
16 As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.