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2 Samuel 6:20–23

So David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the Lord” (v. 21).

Filled with joy and gratitude that the ark of the covenant has been brought successfully to Jerusalem, David returns to his home “to bless his household,” just as he earlier blessed the Israelite people (6:18). Matthew Henry speculates that David intends to lead those of his household, both relatives and servants, in worship on this great day when God has essentially been enthroned in the capital city.

But David does not encounter joy at home. Michal, his first wife, is so agitated that she comes to meet him as he arrives. She saw him dancing in a simple priestly ephod rather than his royal robes as the ark entered Jerusalem, and she did not approve (v. 16). In a voice practically dripping with sarcasm, she says to David, “How glorious was the king,” implying that he was anything but glorious. She couches her criticism in the guise of concern for David’s modesty, saying that his wild dancing probably exposed his private parts to the eyes of maidens in the crowd. But Matthew Henry writes that her true motive may be distaste for David’s deep devotion to God. “She thought this mighty zeal of his for the ark of God, and the transport of joy he was in upon its coming home to him, was but a foolish thing, and unbecoming so great a soldier, and statesman, and monarch, as he was,” he writes. Adding weight to this theory is a hint that Michal may have been involved in worship of Canaanite gods (1 Sam. 19:13).

David quickly denies that he had any evil intent to impress or titillate the women in the crowd. He was dancing ” ‘before the Lord,’ ” that is, for God’s glory and pleasure, with no other thought in mind. His conscience is clear. He then reminds Michal that God chose him to succeed her father, Saul. God put David on the throne. Therefore, it is fitting for him to worship and praise God, and to lead the people in doing so. If that results in humiliation and denigration in the eyes of some, David will accept that, for he knows that he too is a man under authority, and he cares more to please the one over him than those under him. But he predicts that the maidens of Israel will appreciate his devotion to God.

This passage closes with a sad note. Having reproached David, Michal suffers the lifelong reproach of barrenness, either by God’s decree or because David no longer shares the marital bed with her.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Evangelical Christians often love and crave the approval of men. Therefore, we fear to be thought of as “religious wackos,” “zealots,” or “extremists.” But we must not let cultural disapprobation temper our zeal for God. Like David, our first priority must be pleasing Him, not men. Ask God to help you not fear humiliation for His sake.

For Further Study
  • Isa. 25:8; 51:7; 54:4
  • Matt. 5:11–12
  • Acts 5:29
  • 1 Tim. 4:10

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