“When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel: So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men; And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy’s hand.” (Psalm 78:59-61)Before this accident, even before Saul was anointed King near 1000 BCE, the people of Israel had charged into warfare against the Philistines, but were quickly defeated. (1 Samuel 4:2-7)2 So, the people tried another technique: hauling the Ark of the Lord into battle to ensure victory, as they had done in the victorious capture of Jericho in the early days of the Promised Land. (Joshua 6:6-7) The Philistines were nervous, hearing the triumphant shouts from the opposite party, because the courageous shouts of the Israelites were indicative of one thing. Now, the Ark of the Lord was among them. They fell into a panic again because of the previous feats of the God of Israel, especially that of Egypt in the Exodus. Their fear quickly dissipated after a pep talk from the commander, with some light threats and the rallying of troops, allowing them to defeat Israel again. The Lord had allowed the defeat to come to pass. (1 Samuel 4:6-11) Great mourning filled the land of Israel. So the Philistines took the Ark of the Lord to their home territory in Ashdod and treated the chest as a trophy, setting it next to their god and idol, Dagon. Coming back into the temple in the early morning, the people of Ashdod noticed that their statue was knocked over on its face. Without making much fuss initially, they picked it back up. (1 Samuel 5:1-3) Once again, the following morning, the statue was outside its normal placement in the temple. This time, Dagon’s hands and head were chopped off, leaving only the torso of their god to stand. The rest of the pieces were along the “threshold” floor, making everyone viciously afraid. Their deity was dismantled and cast into pieces before their very eyes. Soon after, the Lord’s hand was “heavy upon them of Ashdod” and afflicted them with tumors, even smiting the people along the coast nearby. (1 Samuel 5:5-6) They gathered their leaders and cast their grievances on them. (1 Samuel 5:7-8) Their ultimate decision was to move the Ark to Gath inland (only to strike the civilians with tumors as well), then to Ekron in the north, where they quickly panicked and demanded the chest be delivered back to the Israelites. (1 Samuel 5:10-11) After seven months of trembling and planning, the leaders and diviners of the land collected jewels and treasures. Along with these, they gave a Trespass Offering of golden mice and images of their tumors to the Lord, constructing a new cart to take to Beth-Shemesh further inland. Then a group took it even further inland, closer to the Dead Sea. (1 Samuel 6:1-12, 7:1) Twenty years passed and the Ark was left to collect dust in Kirjathjearim in the house of Abinadab. Whereas it once showed wrath towards the Philistines and symbolized meetings with God, the chest was now inactive. It was the voice of the prophet, Samuel, who stood in front of the people of Israel and gave instruction: “If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. “(1 Samuel 7:1-3) The people of Israel cooperated with the command and gathered at Mizpeh, just north of Kirjathjearim, after further instruction from the prophet. There, the Philistines decided to come after them, causing Israel to tremble at the thought of an approaching adversary. But with the roar of thunder greater than any storm, the Lord answered the sacrifice given by Samuel at Mizpeh. With great power, the God of Israel scattered the Philistines, and the territory taken by them was restored to the Israelites. Peace was given to them as well. (1 Samuel 7:3-14) They won the battle, but the Ark remained dormant. Why was it taken at all? Perhaps it was a warning for Babylon.3
“How shall the Ark of the Lord come to me?” (2 Samuel 6:9)With a palm to his mouth in thought, he decided not to take the Ark home to Jerusalem. Instead, he led everyone aside and took it to a nearby house that belonged to the Gittite, Obededom. (2 Samuel 6:10) There, the Ark allowed some rest from the trauma of the sudden-death experience, and it blessed the household of the proprietor for the three months it remained inside. David, meanwhile, was contemplating the response to the earlier question he had about moving the sacred chest. He still desired to bring it home, but the fear still gripped him from earlier, and maybe some sadness because he loved the Lord. (Psalm 18:1) He just didn’t know how to fulfill the task…yet. Then someone came with a message for the king involving the sacred chest:
“…The Lord hath blessed the house of Obededom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the Ark of God.” (2 Samuel 6:12)
Now it all makes sense…
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)David danced with all his might, and he leaped like a deer from place to place. His feet synced with the rhythm of the drum and his hands were raised in worship, spinning around like a whirlwind. (2 Samuel 6:16)7 David showed his passion for the God of Israel through intense dance, possibly an exuberant variation of acrobatics and jumping as described in Scripture. This, and spinning in a circle.8 Not only this, but his decision was an emphasis of his love. It is not clear whether Saul showed concern for the ark like David, but his piety was displayed in fullness when he made the Ark’s home at the capital of Jerusalem.9 The Psalmist remembered when he was with his sheep as a young man up until this point. (1 Samuel 16:11, 18) This second round of travel was encompassed with even more intensity, as shown by David’s implied decision to lead, in the form of a priest. This display, as stated by David P. Wright, was compensation for the house of Abinadab, where the Ark was dormant, and the priests were discharged.10 Contrasting again, the death of Uzzah was caused by touch, while David and his people drew the attention of the other four senses of the God of Israel: taste and smell by sacrificing bullocks and calves; sight and sound by worship and praise.11 This is especially evident, considering Levites and Priests were to be ceremonially cleaned and purified before any interaction with the Lord.
“…Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.” (1 Samuel 8:5-6)The first anointed King of Israel by Samuel the prophet, after being commanded by the masses and allowed by God, was Saul, Son of Kish, from the tribe of Benjamin. (1 Samuel 9:1-3) He’s one of the few within scripture to be introduced via fair countenance (attractive), emphasizing that he looked like a king from the beginning. (1 Samuel 9:2, 1 Samuel 16:6-7) One day, his father sent him and his servant to find their lost donkeys and after a moment of searching, the servant gave him hope through the availability of the Lord’s prophet. (1 Samuel 9:3-8) Upon meeting Samuel, the donkey issue was resolved quickly—instantly—and the Benjamite was anointed and proclaimed king later in Gilgal. (1 Samuel 9:20, 10:1, 11:15) He was disfavored by God due to his compliance with the voices of the people to keep the spoils of the Amalekites and disobedience in destroying everything. (1 Samuel 15:10-11, 24-26) His behavior became erroneous after the slaying of Goliath by a young David, and the praises of the masses for David over himself were enough to kickstart a large series of sly conspiracies and blatant hostility against this newcomer. (1 Samuel 18:7-10, 1 Samuel 19) This would cease after two attempted murders, both of which were pacified by David refusing to harm the anointed king of God. (1 Samuel 24:3-4,16-17; 1 Samuel 26:16-17,21) As different as these two were, Saul and David paralleled each other on the basis of their anointings, musical association, and being kings of the United Kingdom of Israel.12 Some scholars believe that this movement from Kirjathjearim to Jerusalem, the newfound capital at the time, was symbolic of the unification of people, as well as the ancient tradition and new. Specifically, the chest was believed to be a premonarchic symbol of unity among the twelve tribes.13 This was because the tribes were in contest over tribal tradition and the (at the time) contemporary establishment of a monarchial state during the old age of Samuel. Their demand for a king was only fueled by temporary alliances between groups.14
“Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.” (Psalm 132:9)Up from a high place, Michal, daughter of ex-king Saul, was attracted to snoop around at what the noise was about. She had loved David before he became king, and under the discrete, ill-intended command of her father to collect one-hundred foreskins from the Philistines, she ended up marrying David when the young man delivered double the required quantity. (1 Samuel 18:24-28) David had later married Abigail and Ahinoam of Jezreel as wives, and Saul gave Michal away to a man named Phalti. (1 Samuel 25:44) The celebration penetrated the air with a potent cry of joy and clamoring singing, prompting the woman to approach the window. There, she was able to look down at her husband, who was spinning wildly and jumping before the Ark as the Levites carried the chest in rhythm to the worship. (2 Samuel 6:16) Shock made her face pale, then her blood boiled, and she grew full of disdain towards him; so, she marched downstairs to meet the crowd. (2 Samuel 6:16) David, meanwhile, took the time to bless all of Israel after the placement of the Ark in the tent he had made (1 Chronicles 16:1-2), every single one of his subjects had a bit of food and drink before they returned home. He sang a new Psalm to the Lord God of Israel and left the Levites to their newfound, and reestablished, positions. (1 Chronicles 16:7-36,43) Everyone was full of joy, except the daughter of Saul. After watching the crowds dissipate, he turned to meet the seething face of his wife, hands probably carrying pieces of her skirt to run downstairs and meet him. (2 Samuel 6:18-20)
“…How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!” She shouted. (2 Samuel 6:20)The dance that made Michal so upset had to have been very specific to encourage such a reaction. One of the verb roots in the original script, as studied by Wright, is pi’el. This simply means the nature of the dance is energetic, as used in celebration or comparing the movements to that of animals, like the locust in Joel 2:5, throughout scripture.15 By nature of region of the time, dances consisted of “acrobatics”: dances that included crossed legs, bouncing, and other various jumping activities.16 He only replied: “It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord. And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.” (2 Samuel 6:21-22) And Michal’s womb was barren from that day forward. (2 Samuel 6:23) One day, the King remained in his house, pondering again. The task was finished. The Ark was in Jerusalem. He looked around at the wooden and stone walls, made of cedar and brick, and it disturbed him more. He turned to his prophet, a man named Nathan, beside himself and shared what troubled him deeply.
“See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the Ark of God dwelleth within curtains.” (2 Samuel 7:1-2, 1 Chronicles 17:1)And Nathan shared the words of the Lord to David, Who gave permission to the construction project, but only on the condition that it would be built by his descendant, his son, who was not a man of war. This would be the wisest man alive, King Solomon. (2 Samuel 7:3-1, 1 Chronicles 17:11, 1 Chronicles 28:2-4, 5)