2 Samuel 6: Lessons on True Worship from David’s Return of the Ark to the Tabernacle

Introduction. Most people only know of 2 Samuel 6 as the story where a man named Uzzah died for touching God’s ark. Many further point to this account to draw some misguided distinction between the God in the Old and New Testaments. But these common misinterpretations are incorrect. This story is about King David’s two attempts to restore proper worship in Israel before God’s ark. From this chapter, God reveals seven lessons on the meaning of true worship.

First, the ark (which included God’s Word), remained hidden during all of Saul’s reign. David and the elders of Israel sought to restore true worship by returning the ark (God’s Word) to the Tabernacle. But they failed to properly transport the ark in the manner that God ordained. From the Jews’ mistakes, God reveals that true worship begins by obeying His Word. Second, because the Jews transported the ark incorrectly with an animal cart instead of poles, it almost fell. To protect the ark, a man named Uzzah used his hands to keep the ark from falling. But he died because he ignored God’s warning that death would come to anyone who touched His holy ark. From his error, God reveals that true worship includes reverence. Third, David feared God after he realized his sins and questioned how God’s Word could be brought to him. All have sinned and face the same dilemma. From this, God reveals that true worship recognizes the need for His only mediator, Jesus. Fourth, upon receiving the ark, David celebrated with praise, sacrifice, and celebration. From his example, God reveals that true worship includes praise, sacrifice, and celebration for Jesus. Fifth, David’s wife Michal despised him as she saw him celebrate. She had many grievances against David that she could not forgive. Her objections to the manner of David’s worship caused her true bitterness to emerge. From her mistake, God reveals that true worship does not include bitterness or unforgiveness. Sixth, David placed the ark into the Tabernacle and offered peace offerings (a symbol of God’s fellowship) and blessings for the people. From his example, God reveals that true worship seeks both Jesus’ fellowship and His blessings for others. Finally, Michal rebuked David for celebrating God like a commoner. She was too proud to see her king dance and sing like others. David rebuked her for her pride and for trying to stop his joyful worship. From this, God reveals that true worship includes both humility and joy. His mercy and grace should cause you to respond with humility and joy.

1. True Worship Begins by Obeying God’s Word. 2 Sam. 6:1-5.

  • David and his men transport the ark in an incorrect manner. After becoming king, taking Israel’s capital, and defeating the Philistines in battle, David’s next act was a noble one. After decades of living without the ark during Saul’s reign, David wanted to bring the ark to Israel’s new capital so that God could guide all of Israel. But the Jews did so in an incorrect manner: “1 Now David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him to Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God which is called by the Name, the very name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim. They placed the ark of God on a new cart that they might bring it from the house of Abinadab which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were leading the new cart. So they brought it with the ark of God from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Ahio was walking ahead of the ark. Meanwhile, David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord with all kinds of instruments made of fir wood, and with lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals.” (2 Sam. 6:1-5). David took the ark from where it had been stored in a place called either “Baale-judah” (2 Sam 6:2) or “Kiriath-jearim”. (1 Chron. 13:5). After God punished the Jews for misusing the ark as a good luck charm in battle, the Jews stored it in the house of Abinadab and consecrated a priest named Eleazar to protect it (1 Sam. 7:1). The ark remained there for all of Saul’s reign (1 Sam. 7:2). In seeking to bring back the ark, David conceded with a humble heart that the Jews had not sought after God while it remained hidden during Saul’s reign: “and let us bring back the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul. Then all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.” (1 Chron. 13:3-4). David celebrated as they brought back the ark, unaware of the disaster that would soon strike (2 Sam. 5:5; 1 Chron. 13:8).

  • God’s ordered the Jews to build the ark so that He could dwell with His people. The ark was not meant to be hidden from Israel. It was important for David to retrieve the ark because it was from the mercy seat that God promised to speak to Israel’s high priest: “There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.” (Ex. 25:22; 29:43; 30:6; Lev. 1:1; 16:2; Nu. 7:89; 17:4; 1 Sam. 4:4; 1 Chron. 13:6; Ps. 80:1). God further ordered the Jews to build the ark and the sanctuary around it so that He could dwell with His people: “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.” (Ex. 25:8-9). A “Mishken” or Tabernacle is the noun form of the Hebrew word “shachan”, which means to lodge or dwell. God wanted to dwell with His people the way a husband dwells with his wife. When Jesus became flesh, He “dwelt (“shachan”) amongst us.” (Jo. 1:14). He currently dwells in the hearts of believers. In heaven, He dwells with His bride (the Church) (Rev. 19:7). Like David, God wants you to seek Him out so that He can speak to you through His Word.

  • Live in obedience to God’s Word. God ordered the Jews to build the ark with two poles made of acacia or shittim wood for carrying it. The poles were meant to allow for the ark to be transported on the shoulders of men (Ex. 25:14-15). God further decreed that only the sons of Kohath from the tribe of Levite could transport the ark: “When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy objects and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is to set out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them, so that they will not touch the holy objects and die. These are the things in the tent of meeting which the sons of Kohath are to carry.” (Nu. 4:15). The Jews ignored these rules and transported the ark on an animal cart (2 Sam. 6:3). The result was disaster.

  • Don’t let worldly traditions influence your worship. The Jews had seen the Philistines transport the ark using animals and a cart (1 Sam. 6:10-11). If the Jews believed that it was acceptable for them to transport the ark in this manner because the Philistines had done so, they drew the wrong conclusion. God allowed the ark to be removed from the Philistines in this manner because the Jews had done nothing to rescue it. Believers today often look to what is acceptable amongst non-believers and carnal Christians in deciding how to practice their faith. But believers should never let public opinion and the doctrines of mankind influence their worship. ‘“But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.”’ (Matt. 15:9; Mk. 7:7; Col. 2:22; Is. 29:13). Do you let public opinion or human traditions take precedence over God’s Word?

2. True Worship Includes Reverence. 2 Sam. 6:6-7.

  • God killed Uzzah for touching the ark. Because the Jews transported the ark in an unauthorized manner, it became unstable and almost fell. Despite acting with the noble intention of saving the ark, God struck Uzzah dead for touching the ark: “But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. And the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God.” (2 Sam. 6:6-7). David later explained to the priests that God was upset with not just Uzzah but all of the leaders of Israel. The leaders had failed to seek God’s will in transporting the ark. “Because you did not carry it at the first, the LORD our God made an outburst on us, for we did not seek Him according to the ordinance.” (1 Chron. 15:13; 13:9-10). Uzzah’s name meant strength. He relied upon his own strength to protect and save the ark. But relying upon his own strength resulted in his death. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12).

Uzzah died after he touched the ark1

  • “The Ten Commandments” inside the ark exposed the sins of mankind. God told Moses to put inside the ark the “testimony which I shall give you.” (Ex. 25:16). The “testimony” was God’s First Covenant of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17). The Ten Commandments also represented God the Father. If the ark was built to house this and it is the foundation of God’s throne above it, this reveals that God the Father rules through righteousness: “The Rock of Israel spoke to me, ‘He who rules over men righteously . . .’” (2 Sam. 23:3). With righteousness as the foundation of His rule, He cannot ignore sin or allow it to fester in His presence. He is also a consuming fire when any sin is in His presence (Heb. 12:28-29; Dt. 4:24; 9:3; Ps. 97:3). Thus, sinners cannot be in His holy presence (Ex. 33:20; Jo. 1:18). The Ten Commandments remind us that we all have all sinned and fallen short of God’s righteousness (Ro. 3:9-12, 20). Jesus paid the penalty under the Law to allow us to be in the presence of God the Father (1 John 2:2; Col. 2:13-14). But God still wants you to keep the Law in your heart: “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” (Ps. 119:11). “Your Law is within my heart.” (Ps. 40:8(b); 37:11). Because our hearts are wicked (Jer. 17:9), God has written His Law on our hearts (Jer. 31:33). Moreover, He promises to give you a heart that will allow you to understand His Word (Ez. 36:26). The Spirit convicts you of sin by causing you to remember His Word that He has stored inside of you (Jo. 14:26; 15:26). Uzzah died because his sins could not be in God’s holy presence. Without the atoning blood of Jesus Christ and faith in Him, all would suffer the same fate as Uzzah.

  • Respect God’s Word with a healthy fear of the consequences that come for breaking it. The consequences for touching the ark should not have been a mystery. God repeatedly warned the Jews that the penalty for touching it was death. This penalty applied to both lay persons and even the designated carriers of the ark within the sons of Kohath. “So when the tabernacle is to set out, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle encamps, the Levites shall set it up. But the layman who comes near shall be put to death.” (Nu. 1:51). “So you shall appoint Aaron and his sons that they may keep their priesthood, but the layman who comes near shall be put to death.” (Nu. 3:10). “When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy objects and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is to set out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them, so that they will not touch the holy objects and die. These are the things in the tent of meeting which the sons of Kohath are to carry.” (Nu. 4:14; 18:3, 7, 22). Even if the Jews had forgotten these rules, they would have known what happened the last time the Jews touched and publicly examined the ark. It resulted in the deaths of 50,070 men. “He struck down some of the men of Beth-shemesh because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck down of all the people, 50,070 men, and the people mourned because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter.” (1 Sam. 6:19). Thus, the Jews should have had a healthy reverence for worshiping God correctly.

  • Be in submission to God’s Word and keep your body holy for God’s use. The Kohath tribe was required to protect “the most holy things.” (Nu. 4:4). This included all of the furnishings of the tent of meeting. Today, believers are the bride of Christ (Rev. 22:2, 17). The temple where the Holy Spirit dwells is in your body (1 Cor. 3:16-17). Through Jesus’ death, your body has also been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20). If you were once a slave to sin, you should now be a slave to righteousness (Ro. 6:17-18). As a slave to righteousness, you cannot follow the morals of the world (Lev. 18:1; Ezek. 20:18-19). As a slave to righteousness, you also should be sanctified and set apart for Christ’s use: “Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.’” (Lev. 19:2; Ex. 22:31; 1 Pet. 1:16; Ep. 1:4; Matt. 5:48). You make yourself a slave to righteousness by making yourself a living sacrifice for Him: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Ro. 12:1). Are you living your life as a living sacrifice for God? Or, are you using His mercy and grace as a license to sin even more? (Ro. 6:15; Gal. 5:13).

  • Be reverent to all of God’s Word, not just the parts you understand. At the time of Uzzah’s death, the Jews either forgot God’s Word or tried to rationalize why there was a better way to accomplish His will. Either was equally sinful in His eyes. Today, there are many churches which seek to work together for God. But many churches pick and choose the verses that they will follow. Churches that fear and follow the Word in its entirety should not be yoked together with such churches. “For there must also be factions among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you,” (1 Cor. 11:19). Do you reverently follow all of God’s Word?

3. True Worship Recognizes the Need for God’s Only Mediator, Jesus. 2 Sam. 6:8-11.

  • David fears Gods and recognizes the need for a proper mediator to bring the ark. Out of confusion, David was initially angry. But his anger quickly turned to reverent fear after he realized that he had sinned in transporting the ark. He also needed a proper mediator to bring God’s Word to him: “David became angry because of the Lord’s outburst against Uzzah, and that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. So David was afraid of the Lord that day; and he said, ‘How can the ark of the Lord come to me?’ 10 And David was unwilling to move the ark of the Lord into the city of David with him; but David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11 Thus the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.” (2 Sam. 6:8-11; 1 Chron. 13:11-14). David was at first angry because he did not understand what he did wrong: “Neither David nor his people had intended any disrespect, and so severe a punishment for what was at most a thoughtless act seemed to him unjust. . . . In his first burst of displeasure he called the place Perez-Uzzah, the word ‘Perez,’ or ‘Breach,’ conveying to the Hebrews the idea of a great calamity (Judges 21:15) or of a sudden attack upon a foe (2 Samuel 5:20).” (Pulpit Commentary on 2 Sam. 6).2 After realizing his sins, he saw that he needed a mediator. He then placed the ark temporarily with Obed-Edom. David made this choice because he was part of the Kohath clan within the tribe of Levi (1 Chron. 26:4). As stated above, God entrusted the Kohath clan with the responsibility for caring for and transporting the ark (Nu. 4:15). Once David followed God’s Word, He poured out His blessings.

  • The fear of the Lord brings knowledge of the need for a mediator. When God previously struck down 50,070 men for touching and publicly examining the ark, the people also trembled in fear for lack of a mediator: “The men of Beth-shemesh said, ‘Who is able to stand before the LORD, this holy God? And to whom shall He go up from us?’” (1 Sam. 6:20). David later wrote on many occasions about his reverent fear of God: “My flesh trembles for fear of You, and I am afraid of Your judgments. Ayin.” (Ps. 119:120). “Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling.” (Ps. 2:11). ‘“For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,’ declares the LORD. ‘But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”’ (Ps. 66:2). People today are also warned that they must recognize the need for a mediator to be reconciled with God: “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;” (Phil. 2:12).

  • Jesus your advocate has reconciled you to be in God the Father’s presence. Unlike Uzzah or the Jews who suffered in the presence of God’s holiness at Beth Shemesh, believers have an advocate before God the Father: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;” (1 Jo. 2:1). He has reconciled you to the Father through His blood: “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Ro. 5:10; 8:34). And He is the only mediator between you and God the Father: “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim. 2:5). Do you give thanks that Jesus has allowed for you to be reconciled with God the Father?

  • A contrite heart will allow God to revive you after sin. David’s humble sorrow after recognizing his sins allowed God to revive him: “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps. 34:18). “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Ps. 51:17). “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Ps. 147:3). When you sin, repent and return to God with a contrite heart. He will then also revive you.

  • God blesses those who serve with faith-led obedience. This story should not only be remembered because of God’s judgment upon Uzzah. Just as important to the story was God’s blessing upon Obed-edom for opening his home to ark for three months when most were too scared to be near it (2 Sam 6:11). Some of the blessings were immediate. The book of Chronicles also reveals that God’s blessings included eight sons: “Obed-edom had sons: Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, Sacar the fourth, Nethanel the fifth, Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh and Peullethai the eighth; God had indeed blessed him.” (1 Chron. 26:4-5). If you live in faith led obedience, God also wants to pour His blessings upon you. “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.” (Dt. 28:1). Have you walked in obedience so that He can also pour His blessings upon you?

4. True Worship Includes Praise, Sacrifice, and Celebration for Jesus. 2 Sam. 6:12-15.

  • David offers God praise, sacrifice, and celebration. After observing God’s blessings for Obed-edom, David sang a song of praise, offered sacrifices of gratitude, and danced before God: “12 Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, on account of the ark of God.” David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness. 13 And so it was, that when the bearers of the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. 14 And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouting and the sound of the trumpet.” (2 Sam. 6:12-15; 1 Chron. 15:25-28). After David admonished the priests for their errors, they correctly transported the ark by placing the ark’s poles on their shoulders: “The sons of the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles thereon, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD.” (1 Chron. 15:15). David then offered praise when God accepted their acts of worship and obedience.

Jan de Bray (1627-1697) “David Playing the Harp Ahead of the Ark” (1670)3

David’s celebration turned into joyful dancing4

The return of the ark brought great joy to the people5

  • Praise Jesus for His Word and His deliverance. David worshiped Yahweh with gratitude for accepting the Jews’ devotion and sacrifice. Like David, God wants you to praise Him in song as your rock, your strength, and the source of your salvation: “The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be God, the rock of my salvation,” (2 Sam. 22:47). “My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my savior, You save me from violence.” (2 Sam. 22:3). “The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” (Dt. 32:4). “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Ps. 18:2, 31, 46; 19:14). Worship helps to clear your mind to receive God’s Word. Thus, you should never skip the worship that precedes the message at Church. Through Jesus’ model prayer for us (the Lord’s prayer), He also invites believers to begin by praising God’s holy name (Matt. 6:9). In worship and in prayer, are you giving God praise for all your unearned gifts?

  • Dancing can also be a part of worship. David was not the first leader to include dancing as part of his celebration of God. “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,” (Ps. 30:11). When God delivered the Jews from Pharaoh’s army, Miriam also included both song and dance as part of her celebration. “Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. Miriam answered them, ‘Sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; the horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.’” (Ex. 15:20-21). Solomon also wrote that there is a time for celebration that includes dancing (Ecc. 3:4). From these examples, God reveals that dancing can also be a part of your worship. God gave us the rhythm to dance to worship Him. In heaven, our songs of praise will be accompanied by dancing. Unfortunately, Satan has corrupted most forms of modern dance. The Church must play a role in reintroducing dance as a form of worship. Do you have enough joy for God to dance?

5. True Worship Does Not Include Bitterness or Unforgiveness. 2 Sam. 6:16.

  • Michal despises David for dancing before God. David’s acts of celebration did not inspire everyone. His dancing along with David’s other actions caused his wife Michal to despise him: “16 Then it happened as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.” (2 Sam. 6:16; 1 Chon. 15:29). Michal was Saul’s daughter (1 Sam. 14:49). David previously married her as Saul’s carnal prize for killing 100 Philistines (1 Sam. 18:27). Yet, after David fled for his life, Saul gave her to a man named Palti to remove David’s claim to the throne (1 Sam. 25:44). When David heard of Abner’s offer to serve him, he used Abner to kidnap his former wife Michal. David did this to strengthen his claim to the throne and to take back that which he felt belonged to him (2 Sam. 3:12-16). Before arriving in Hebron, David had already replaced Michal with two wives (1 Sam. 25:43). During his seven-year reign in Hebron, he took four additional wives (2 Sam. 3:2-5). Michal became his seventh wife. After becoming King of Israel, David misused his power to take on even more wives and concubines (2 Sam. 5:13-14). Michal most likely resented David for kidnapping her from her then husband and forcing her to live as part of a harem.

James Tissot (1836-1902) “Michal Despises David” (1898)6

  • David reaped the consequences of the deeds of the flesh that he sowed. Moses expressly warned that it was against God’s law for a king to multiply his wives: “17 He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; . . ..” (Dt. 17:17(a)). The New Testament is also clear that a man should have only one wife (Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Tim. 3:2). When we long for the things of the flesh, God will eventually give us over to our lusts (Rom. 1:28). Her resentment toward David was a consequence of sins of the flesh.

  • True worship includes forgiveness. Michael had many reasons to resent David. Her complaints about his dancing merely exposed her inner feelings about him. But her worship needed to include forgiveness. God warned His people not to hold grudges against each other: ‘“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.”’ (Lev. 19:18). Believers are called upon to be God’s holy priesthood today (1 Pet. 2:5). As part of His holy priesthood, you too are called upon to set an example in worship by not holding grudges and by forgiving your enemies (Matt. 22:39; Mk. 12:31; Lk. 10:27; Jo. 13:34; Ro. 12:19; 13:19). Are you showing forgiveness and love to those who hurt you?

6. True Worship Seeks Jesus’ Fellowship and His Blessings for Others. 2 Sam. 6:17-19.

  • David restores proper worship by placing the ark in the Tabernacle and blesses the Jews. After celebrating the return of the ark, David placed it in a proper Tabernacle for worship and used it for its intended purpose to bless God’s people: “17 So they brought in the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent which David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 18 When David had finished offering the burnt offering and the peace offering, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts. 19 Further, he distributed to all the people, to all the multitude of Israel, both to men and women, a cake of bread and one of dates and one of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed each to his house.” (2 Sam. 6:17-19). The ark was meant to bring the people into fellowship with God for Him to bless them. As the King of Israel, this was one of the most important things that David did for God’s people.

  • Seek Jesus’ fellowship through His Word. There are three symbols of God’s fellowship in this account. First, David celebrated the return of the ark with a “peace” offering (2 Sam. 6:18). The peace offering was a voluntary offering that symbolized a life of fellowship with God (Lev. Chapter 3). Second, the contents of the ark included a golden jar with some of the manna that rained down from heaven for 40 years to sustain the Jews in the wilderness (Heb. 9:4; Ex. 16:32-34). This symbolized Jesus’ provision and His fellowship. He was the bread of life that rained down on the Jews in the wilderness: “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:48-51). He is also the Word who became flesh (John 1:1, 14). Third, within the Tent of Meeting near the ark, God commanded that the Jews keep 12 holy loaves of bread (Ex. 25:23-30). The purpose of the bread was to show God’s desire for fellowship with His people by allowing them to symbolically dine with Him. Dining together was considered in Jewish culture to be an intimate act of friendship. Jesus also offers to “dine” with any person who opens the door of their heart to Him (Rev. 3:20). His bread was meant for you to eat in communion with Him (Rev. 1:6; 5:10). Are you consuming the bread of life to stay in communion with Jesus?

  • Provide for God’s people. David gave bread to all the people (2 Sam. 6:19). As symbolized by the 12 loaves, Jesus promises to feed everyone who seeks after Him (Matt. 6:25-34). These instructions also symbolically apply to all of God’s believers (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). Like the bread that God offered to all His tribes, He wants you to provide for those in need. Today, Jesus’ “food” is doing God’s will: “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.’” (Jo. 4:34). Serving God by helping others is also one part of “undefiled religion”. (Jam. 1:27). Does your worship include helping others? Or, are you only feeding yourself?

  • Use God’s blessings to bless others. David also used the ark for its intended purpose to bless others. “Then all the people departed each to his house, and David returned to bless his household.” (1 Chron. 16:43). Most of the great leaders of the Bible gave blessings to their people. For example, with Noah’s final recorded words, he blessed and gave prophetic words for his children (Gen. 9:24-27). At a time when Isaac incorrectly thought that he was about to die, he sought to bless his eldest son Esau. But he was tricked into giving that blessing to Jacob (Gen. 27:34-41). At the end of his life, Jacob blessed and gave prophetic words to each of his 12 sons (Gen. 49). In Moses’ final words, he blessed the 12 tribes of Israel (Dt. 33). Jesus also promised a blessing with His final words: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20). Paul also offered a prayer of blessings to others (2 Cor. 13:14). Today, a blessing at the end of a church service is called a prayer of “benediction.” You should also be looking for ways to bless others. We should also pray for God to bless others. Your goal should never be to condemn a sinner. That is what Satan does as the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10). Instead, your goal should be to restore the person who has sinned: “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restores such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” (Gal. 6:1). When was the last time that you prayed for God to bless someone else?

7. True Worship Includes Both Humility and Joy. 2 Sam. 6:20-23.

  • David rebukes Michal for attempting to quash his joyful celebration of God. After blessing the people, David rebuked Michal for attempting to quash his acts of joyful celebration before God: “20 But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!” 21 So David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel; therefore I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished.” 23 Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.” (2 Sam. 6:20-23). David did not wear clothing to expose himself. Instead, he wore an ephod, just like the other priests in the procession (1 Chron. 15:27). He humbled himself by removing his normal regal attire as king because he was worshiping before the King of Kings (Rev. 19:16). Michal, however, was prideful and thought David’s worship to be undignified. Yet, to deal with her father Saul’s pride, the Holy Spirit forced him to strip naked and offer prophecies in God’s name. “He also stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Therefore they say, ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’” (1 Sam. 19:24). God did this because He hated Saul’s pride.

  • Remove any pride from your worship. God sets Himself against those who pride themselves in their own abilities or their pride: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Prov. 16:18). “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor.” (Prov. 18:12). ‘“Behold, I am against you, O valley dweller, O rocky plain,’ declares the LORD, ‘You men who say, ‘Who will come down against us? Or who will enter into our habitations?’”’ (Jer. 21:15). “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11; 18:14). “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Prov. 29:23). Like David, your worship must be humble. This comes from recognizing God’s mercy and grace in your life.

  • The ark also symbolized the joy of finding life in the living Spirit. Michal saw God as remote and unconnected to her life. Thus, she worshiped Him through household idols. She even used these idols to help David escape from Saul at a time when she loved David: “13 Michal took the household idol and laid it on the bed, and put a quilt of goats’ hair at its head, and covered it with clothes. 14 When Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, ‘He is sick.’” (1 Sam. 19:13-14). But our God is alive and directly connected to our lives. The contents of the ark also symbolized the joy of the living Spirit. God told Moses to put the budding rod of Aaron “before the testimony.” (Nu. 17:10). The budding rod represents the new life of the Holy Spirit, which is only made possible through Christ’s death. “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” (Jo. 1:4). “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,’” (Jo. 11:25-26; 14:19). The flowers represent the Holy Spirit, and the wooden rod represents Jesus. The Spirit has “set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8:1; Col. 2:13-14). Today, the Spirit has made you alive by dwelling within you (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). As a rod, the Spirit also has great power. But His power must be used through daily prayer before His force will be fully felt in your life. Are you praying with the full power of the Spirit?

  • Be a joyful believer. It is not enough to give the best of your life to Him. God also expects your giving to be done joyfully. “Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes shall say, ‘All my springs of joy are in you.’” (Ps. 87:7). “Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting; then they said among the nations, ‘LORD has done great things for them.”’ (Ps. 126:2). “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouting.” (Job 8:21). “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.” (Ps. 51:14). “Sarah said, ‘God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.”’ (Gen. 21:6). This joy should also be visible in your giving: “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7). “For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.” (2 Cor. 8:12). “Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution.” (Ex. 25:2). “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” (Heb. 13:15). As one commentator explains: “When the worship was in the proper order it was still filled with gladness and joy. It is a mistake to feel that “real” worship must be subdued, solemn, or only in a minor key.” (David Guzik on 2 Sam. 6).7 Is your worship filled with gladness or sorrow?

  • God will know if you worship as a “white washed” tomb. Like Michal, believers can offer meaningless or prideful worship to God. Like Michal, many are composed and proper on the exterior. But there is nothing inside connected to our living God. Jesus called the Pharisees who lived and worshiped this way “white washed tombs” (Matt. 25:25-28). Is there any similar pride or meaningless worship in your walk with God?