2 Samuel: The Terror of God

Sermon by on October 24, 2010

2 Samuel 6:1-23

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The
Lord’s Day Evening

October 24, 2010

2 Samuel 6:1-23

The Terror of God”


Dr.
Derek W. H. Thomas

Now turn
with me if you would to 2 Samuel chapter 6, and before we read this passage
let’s ask for God’s blessing.


Father,
we thank You for the scriptures. We ask now for the blessing of Your Spirit that
we might not just read it, but understand it and apply it. For Jesus’ sake.
Amen.


“David
again gathered all the chosen men of
Israel, thirty thousand. 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, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who sits
enthroned on the cherubim. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and
brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and
Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were
driving the new cart, with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark.

And
David and all the house of Israel were
making merry before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and
castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah
put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled.
And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down
there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David
was angry because the Lord had burst forth against Uzzah. And that place is
called Perez-uzzah, to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and
he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” So David was not willing to
take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of
Obed-edom the Gittite. And 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.

And it
was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all
that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up
the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of
David
with rejoicing. And when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six steps,
he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. And David danced before the Lord with
all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house
of Israel
brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.

As the
ark of the Lord came into the city of
David, 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. And they brought in the ark of the Lord and set it in its
place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it. And David offered burnt
offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. And when David had finished
offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in
the name of the Lord of hosts and distributed among all the people, the whole
multitude of Israel, both men
and women, a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins to each
one. Then all the people departed, each to his house.

And
David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out
to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today,
uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as
one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” and David said to
Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all
his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord–and I
will make merry before the Lord. I will make myself yet more contemptible than
this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you
have spoken, by them, I shall be held in honor.” And Michal the daughter of Saul
had no child to the day of her death.”

May God
bless that Word to us.

It’s a
gold box 3¼ feet by 2¼ by 2¼. It’s about the size of the chest that some of you
have at the bottom of your bed that contains your grandmother’s linen and
blankets and who knows what. It’s a box. It’s a box covered in gold made of
acacia wood and on the top of it on either side are two cherubim with
outstretched wings. Inside the box were purportedly the tablets of stone on
which the Ten Commandments had been written, God’s covenant Word to
Israel, a golden pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod,
that budded. It’s the Ark, the Ark of God, the Ark of the Covenant
of God. It was a symbol of God’s presence. In the tabernacle above this ark was
the presence, the shekinah, the shining glory of God, but this Ark had been taken. It
had been captured. Saul had taken it into battle against the Philistines. It had
been captured in the battle of Aphek. It was too hot for the Philistines to
handle. You remember seventy Philistines were killed.

So it
had gone aside to this man, Abinadab and his two sons, in a place called, well,
here it’s called Baale-judah, but it’s also called Kiriath-Jearim. Thirty
thousand men–that’s a lot. Thirty thousand men ascend to this place,
Kiriath-Jearim, well, Baale-judah, nine — ten miles west north-west of
Jerusalem. Like
Canton
from here–that ten miles, roughly?

Let’s go
to three places tonight. Let’s go to this place; the home of Abinadab and his
two sons. Let’s go there first of all because in this place, unless it journeys
to another house, we learn something. We learn that the presence of God can
sometimes be a very dangerous thing. The place is rockin’. They’ve put this box,
this gold box, they’ve put it on a new cart with two oxen and they’re trundling
along a lane of some description. They’ve come to what seems to be the very
outer precincts of Jerusalem. It’s hilly. One
of the oxen stumbles and all of a sudden there’s been all this singing and
trumpets and castanets and all kinds of instruments. The place is rocking and it
all goes quiet and Uzzah, one of the sons of Abinadab is dead. He’s on the floor
beside the box. There was an inquiry. “What happened? What in the world
happened?”

“One of
the oxen stumbled and Uzzah put out his hand and took hold of the box and God
struck him dead.”

When I
was in seminary (not RTS, now) before I came to RTS I was in a liberal
Presbyterian seminary. I was told this story was an example of popular religion
among semi-nomadic pre-scientific people and it was utterly incompatible with
the New Testament. Except I remember putting up my hand and saying, “What about
Acts chapter 5 and Ananias and Sapphira? This is New Testament. It’s within
living memory of Pentecost. This is the early church and God struck them dead.”

And
David — see there in verse 8 — David is angry. He’s angry! Are you? I mean,
let’s be honest for a minute. What is this? I mean, would God prefer this box to
fall on the floor and the contents spill out on the ground, on the mud? Is that
what God would want? This isn’t murder. It’s not adultery. It’s not blasphemy.
He put out his hand to stop the ark from falling to the ground. That’s all he
did! And David is angry. He’s angry with God. How can God do such a thing? Is
God petulant, irascible? Is there a dark side to God; is God given to fitful
rages and outbursts? What is this?

Everything about what David had done was wrong. Everything about it was wrong.


God had
given very specific instructions about this box. This box represented Him.

It was the Ark of the Covenant of God. It was the Ark of God. How does the
author of Samuel describe it? “Which is called by the name of the Lord of Hosts
who sits enthroned on the cherubim.”


This box
represented the very presence of God in their midst
.

It was
not to be carried on a cart even if it was new. No one was allowed to touch it.
No one was allowed to touch it! And the only people who could carry it on poles
were a special select group of Levites known as the Kohathites. They will be the
ones who will carry it into Jerusalem.
Everything about this was wrong.

But, OK,
it was wrong, but is it right that Uzzah should be struck dead for preventing
this Ark from falling to the ground? Be very
careful how you answer that question. Be very, very careful.

Jonathan
Edwards has a sermon, as you might imagine, on this passage. He says Uzzah was
guilty of arrogance, that he thought it would be worse for the box to touch the
mud and clay of the ground rather than a sinner’s hand. Which would be
preferable — for the box to fall to the ground and touch the mud or for a
sinner’s hand to touch that which represented the very presence of God?

God, my
friends, is holy. It’s what made Nadab and Abihu had learned in Leviticus 10
when they offered strange fire to the Lord and God consumed them. God is holy.
God is not to be trifled with.

Do you
know what it cost to save you so that you can go into the presence of Jesus; so
that you can go into the presence of Jesus and say, “My friend, my friend, my
sweet friend.” What we were thinking about this morning: the holiness, the
holiness, the righteousness of God had to be reckoned with; the holiness of God
had to come down upon His Son on Calvary so
that we can go into the presence of our Father and call him Father, call him
Abba Father. God is holy and the presence of God can be a dangerous thing. If
you’re not covered by the blood of Jesus the holiness of God is a terrible
thing.

That’s
what my dear friend was trying to tell the children tonight with
The Shorter Catechism question, “What
is hell?” I’m glad he was trying to do it and not me – it is endless, terrible
and endless punishment. We believe that! We believe that because Jesus taught
that. Jesus taught that! If you think that you can do as you please and come at
the end of the day into the presence of God, my dear, dear friends, you need to
think again because unless you’re covered by the blood of Jesus, there is only
wrath. There is only hell — endless, terrible punishment.

David is
angry in verse 8. In verse 9 he’s afraid. He’s afraid. “How can the Ark of the Lord come to me,” he says. So he
sends it aside into the house of a man called Obed-edom the Gittite and it’s
there for three months — three months contemplating the holiness of God.

Now
you’re going to think about it just for about twenty minutes and for some of you
as soon as you leave these walls and drive home, you’re going to forget about
it, but these people had to think about the holiness of God for three months.

Let’s go
to the streets of Jerusalem because after
three months David hears that the house of Obed-edom the Gittite has been
blessed. And that for me and for some commentators, though not all, but for some
commentators that may imply that the motives as to why David wanted the Ark in
Jerusalem in the first place may well have been a little shady. Perhaps the
reason he wanted the Ark in Jerusalem in the very
first place was not in itself a pure reason.

So, they
do it the right way now. Kohathites, poles, as deathly silence, not a breath can
be heard and they lift this Ark
and they look round. Everybody’s still standing. They take one step, two steps,
three, four, five, six. Everybody breathes a sigh of relief and David orders a
sacrifice, a bull is sacrificed. It’s brought all the way in to Jerusalem to a tent that
David has erected. God is coming into
Jerusalem
and there’s exuberance, there’s joy, joy at the mercy of God. There’s dancing.
David dances before the Lord in extravagant fashion.

Now,
please, this is not the text to say there should be dancing in public worship.
Not unless you want to be semi-naked as David was. There were no choreographers
in the temple. There were musicians and conductors and instruments and choirs,
but there were no choreographers in the temple. There’s absolutely no evidence
that there was dancing in the temple or in the synagogue or in the early church.
This is a unique moment in the history of redemption and David is filled with
joy. The presence of God can sometimes be a joyful thing, a joyful thing.
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”

But
let’s go after David has celebrated and everyone’s been given this present. It
must have been wonderful for whoever it was who was doing all that baking –
there’s a phenomenal amount of food that’s being distributed. It’s a day of
celebration. It’s thanksgiving and thanksgiving and thanksgiving and
thanksgiving and David now goes home.

And you
know, there’s a lesson here, too, because there can be joy and glory and wonder
outside, in church, at work, respect and honor and applause and then you go home
and you’re just the unfaithful husband.

Things
are not good in David’s home. Michal, who had looked out of the window and seen
David dancing, cavorting, showing himself, according to Michal. We don’t know
where this ephod or what kind of ephod this was, whether David now has assumed
the office of a Melchizedekian priest, perhaps. Had David exposed himself?
That’s the accusation Michal is saying. He had exposed himself in the course of
this dancing to the female servants and she is miffed! She is royally miffed.

Now, I
sympathize with Michal. I’m sorry. I have some sympathy for Michal. She’d been a
pawn in David’s political aggrandizement when Abner had come south because he
was miffed because Ish-bosheth had accused him of sleeping with one of the
women. David had said, “I want Michal back,” who was by this time married again.
The poor husband, do you remember, following her all the way and weeping and
lamenting.

There is
no chemistry in this marriage between David and Michal. She may be living in his
house, but so are ten or twelve or maybe twenty other women; at least a dozen
wives and concubines that we’ve read of in chapters 3 and 5. Things are not good
in David’s house. Is Michal exaggerating in the charges that she makes about
David’s dancing, exposing himself? Perhaps and perhaps not.

Did you
make any observation or judgment as you read this exchange between Michal and
David? It was pretty hostile. It was pretty snippy and I would give equal marks
to both sides. David gave as much as he got. He was as surly to her as she was
to him.

Now
verse 23 says, “And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her
death.” Many commentators, I have to tell you, many commentators read that and
they say, “That’s God’s judgment. She was wrong to criticize David and God
judged her.”

I’m
sorry, the text doesn’t say that. The text does not say that. All that it says
is that she didn’t have children. She didn’t have children because, how can I
put it delicately? There were no conjugal relations between David and Michal.
After this snippy exchange Michal may well have lived in the house, but there
was no rapport. She had no children. So before you exonerate David completely
and condemn Michal completely, I don’t think the text will let you do that.
David’s motives were mixed. It’s saying something. It’s saying something that
you may well understand, some of you. You go to work and you’re loved and adored
and treasured and secretaries say all manner of wonderful things to you and
about you because you pay them to do that. [Laughter] And you go home and it’s
“Why haven’t you put out the trash?” Now it’s on a bigger scale here, but things
are not good in David’s home.

David
may well be a king and he may well have assumed a Melchizedekian priestly role
now and he may well be a type of Jesus, but
David is a sinner still and not my savior.
“How sweet the name of David sounds in a believer’s ear. It calms my sorrows and
heals my wounds and drives away my fear.” No, no, no, no, no, no. “How sweet the
name of Jesus,” great David’s greater son.

The
presence of God has come into
Jerusalem. Next
time, something absolutely wonderful is going to happen because God is going to
speak His Word. He’s going to make a covenant. He’s going to make a promise.
He’s going to reaffirm everything that He has said to Abraham and Moses; that a
Messiah is coming, a Savior is coming, but all you have to do is take a little
look into David’s home and you’ll see that Messiah is not David, great as he
was.

Let’s
pray together.

Father, we thank You for
Your Word and thank you for David with all his sins and foibles and
short-comings. We tremble for Michal for the text says again and again she was
the daughter of Saul. That very description perhaps telling us there was no
faith in her heart, that ultimately that perhaps she was indeed an unbeliever.

Lord, we pray tonight as
we think about these things that we might more and more and more have this
profound sense of gratitude that You have sent a true Savior, a wonderful
Savior, even Jesus our Lord.

Receive our thanks and
grant Your blessing. We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Please
stand. Receive the Lord’s benediction.

Grace,
mercy, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

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