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2 Samuel 6:1–2

And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale Judah to bring up from there the ark of God (v. 2a).

Our studies in 2 Samuel have brought us to chapter 6, where we find what initially seems to be one of the strangest and most disturbing stories in Scripture. But it is also, as Matthew Henry writes, a “very instructive” story. For this reason we will spend this entire week working our way through 2 Samuel 6 in some detail.

With his throne established and his nation secure, David’s thoughts now turn to matters of a spiritual nature. So he once again gathers all the “choice men” of Israel, some thirty thousand of them. But it is not David’s intent to lead these men to war. Instead, he wants to bring the ark of the covenant to his new capital, Jerusalem. The ark, of course, is that chest that symbolizes the presence of God with His covenant people. As we saw in 1 Samuel, it was kept at Shiloh until shortly before the tabernacle there was overrun by the Philistines as part of God’s judgment against the High Priest Eli (1 Sam. 2:32). When the Israelites treated the ark as if it were a magical talisman to help them defeat their enemies, God allowed it to be captured and taken to Philistia. But God so afflicted the Philistines that they eventually sent the ark back to Israel, and it came to be lodged in the home of Abinadab in the city of Kirjath Jearim (1 Sam. 7:1). There, it seemingly was forgotten for years—until now.

With his thirty thousand chosen men in attendance, David goes to Baale Judah (another name for Kirjath Jearim) to bring the ark to Jerusalem. The language employed here by the author of 2 Samuel is quite suggestive of David’s purpose. He speaks of God as “the Lord of Hosts,” that is, as the commander of the armies of heaven and earth. In other words, God is the Sovereign One. Also, God is said to dwell “between the cherubim.” This is a reference to the carved cherubs that adorn the lid of the ark—the space between them is regarded as the focal point of God’s presence. For this reason, the ark is sometimes called God’s throne. Thus, David the king is preparing to symbolically bring God the King to Jerusalem, that He might reign over His people, with David as His vicegerent. It would seem that David wants Israel to be reminded that God is the nation’s ultimate Ruler. With the ark in Jerusalem, God—not David—will have the most exalted place in Israel’s national life.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

David wanted Yahweh to be central to life in Israel. It is the same in the church, and in our own lives as well. We need to remind ourselves constantly that God is building His church and is ruling over all things. Pray for grace to remember these truths when circumstances cause others to question His power, love, or existence.

For Further Study
  • Ps. 27:4
  • 1 Cor. 3:10–11
  • Eph. 2:20–22
  • Col. 2:7

Fair Sunshine

Carting the Ark

Keep Reading The Way of Glory: Persecution and Martyrdom in the Christian Life

From the September 2003 Issue
Sep 2003 Issue