It was a time for great joy and celebration! The ark of the covenant, the most important piece of tabernacle furniture, was coming home. In Exodus 25, God instructed Moses to build the gold-covered chest, which contained the tablets of the Law. The Israelites carried it throughout the wilderness and around the city of Jericho.
In 1 Samuel 4, the ark was captured by the Philistines, an event so tragic that Eli the Priest fell to his death upon hearing the news. In today’s passage we see David’s restoration of Jerusalem into Israel’s political center. He had driven back the Philistines and reunified the tribes of Israel around their capital.
David had also reclaimed the ark and brought it back to Jerusalem. Even though its journey was difficult— with Uzzah’s death (6:1–7)—the ark’s presence represented a powerful sign of God’s holiness, power, and presence. With the ark’s arrival, the city regained not only political importance but also religious significance.
David did not even try to hide his joy as the ark entered the city. He led the parade, dancing and jumping through the streets. When Michal saw this, “she despised him” (v. 16). Then David hosted a party, including offerings, blessings, bread, and cake. When David returned home to “bless his household,” we see a bitter Michal (v. 20). She is introduced in this scene as “daughter of Saul” (v. 16), and in her cutting demeanor, she reflects her father’s disposition. She criticized David’s behavior as unbefitting a king.
David defended his dancing as being for the Lord. The closing sentence implies that Michal’s childlessness was a punishment for her behavior. Saul’s house would have no ongoing role in the kingship of Israel.
>> How often do we let our hearts spill over with joy at what God has done for us? We frequently make following God a very serious business, and that is not wrong, but we can also celebrate Him as David did. What wonderful things God has done!
Give us worshipful spirits like David, who cried, “I will celebrate the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes” (2 Sam. 6:21–22). You are worthy of joyful abandon!