2 Samuel 6:1
Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) Again, David gathered.—The word “again” should be transposed: “David gathered together again”—referring to the former military musters. In 1Chronicles 13:1-4, mention is made of the consultations with the leaders of Israel which preceded this gathering, and the gathering itself is there (2Samuel 6:5) said to be of “all Israel.” But “all Israel” was evidently represented by the thirty thousand (the LXX. reads seventy thousand) of its more prominent men.

2 Samuel

DEATH AND LIFE FROM THE ARK

2 Samuel 6:1 - 2 Samuel 6:12
.

I. The first section {2 Samuel 6:1 - 2 Samuel 6:5} describes the joyful reception and procession. The parallel account in 1 Chronicles states that Baalah, or Baale, was Kirjath-jearim. Probably the former was the more ancient Canaanitish name, and indicates that it had been a Baal sanctuary. If so, the presence of the ark there was at once a symbol and an omen, showing Jehovah’s conquest over the obscene and bloody gods of the land, and forecasting His triumph over all the gods of the nations. Every Baale shall one day be a resting-place of the ark of God. The solemn designation of the ark, as ‘called by the Name, the name of the Lord of Hosts, that dwelleth between the cherubim,’ is significant on this, its reappearance after so long eclipse, and, by emphasising its awful sanctity, prepares for the incidents which are to follow. The manner of the ark’s transport was irregular; for the law strictly enjoined its being carried by the Levites by means of bearing-poles resting on their shoulders; and the copying of the Philistines’ cart, though a new one was made for the purpose, indicates the desuetude into which the decencies of worship had fallen in seventy years. In 1 Chronicles, the singular words in 2 Samuel 6:5, which describe David as playing before the Lord on the very unlikely things for such a purpose,’ all manner of instruments of fir wood,’ become ‘with all their might: even with songs’ which seems much more reasonable. A slight alteration in three letters and the transposition of two would bring our text into conformity with I Chronicles, and the conjectural emendation is tempting. Who ever heard of fir-wood musical instruments? The specified ones which follow were certainly not made of it, and songs could scarcely fail to be mentioned.

At all events, we see the glad procession streaming out of the little city buried among its woods; the cart drawn by meek oxen, and loaded with the unadorned wooden chest, in the midst; the two sons or descendants of its faithful custodian honoured to be the teamsters; the king with the harp which had cheered him in many a sad hour of exile; and the crowd ‘making a joyful noise before the Lord,’ which might sound discord in our ears, as some lifted up shrill songs, some touched stringed instruments, some beat on timbrels, some rattled metal rods with movable rings, and some clashed cymbals together. It was a wild scene, in which there was a dangerous resemblance to the frantic jubilations of idolatrous worship. No doubt there were true hearts in that crowd, and none truer than David’s. No doubt we have to beware of applying our Christian standards to these early times, and must let a good deal that is sensuous and turbid pass, as, no doubt, God let it pass. But confession of sin in leaving the ark so long forgotten would have been better than this tumultuous joy; and if there had been more trembling in it, it would not have passed so soon into wild terror. Still, on the other hand, that rejoicing crowd does represent, though in crude form, the effect which the consciousness of God’s presence should ever have. His felt nearness should be, as the Psalmist says, ‘the gladness of my joy.’ Much of our modern religion is far too gloomy, and it is thought to be a sign of devotion and spiritual-mindedness to be sad and of a mortified countenance. Unquestionably, Christianity brings men into the continual presence of very solemn truths about themselves and the world which may well sober them, and make what the world calls mirth incongruous.

‘There is no music in the life

That rings with idiot laughter solely.’

But the Man of Sorrows said that His purpose for us was that ‘His joy might remain in us, and that our joy might be full’; and we but imperfectly apprehend the gospel if we do not feel that its joys ‘much more abound’ than its sorrows, and that they even burn brightest, like the lights on safety-buoys, when drenched by stormy seas.

II. The second section contains the dread vindication of the sanctity of the ark, which changed joy into terror, and silenced the songs. At some bad place in the rocky and steep track, the oxen stumbled or were restive. The spot is called in Samuel ‘the threshing-floor of Nachon,’ but in Chronicles the owner is named ‘Chidon.’ As the former word means ‘a stroke’ and the latter ‘destruction,’ they are probably not to be taken as proper names, but as applied to the place after this event. The name given by David, however-Perez-uzzah-proved the more permanent ‘to this day.’ Uzzah, who was driving while his brother went in front to pilot the way, naturally stretched out his hand to steady his freight, just as if it had been a sack of corn; and, as if he had touched an electric wire, fell dead, as the story graphically says, ‘by the ark of God.’ What confusion and panic would agitate the joyous singers, and how their songs would die on their lips!

What harm was there in Uzzah’s action? It was most natural, and, in one point of view, commendable. Any careful waggoner would have done the same with any valuable article he had in charge. Yes; that was just the point of his error and sin, that he saw no difference between the ark and any other valuable article. His intention to help was right enough; but there was profound insensibility to the awful sacredness of the ark, on which even its Levitical bearers were forbidden to lay hands. All his life Uzzah had been accustomed to its presence. It had been one of the familiar pieces of furniture in Abinadab’s house, and, no doubt, familiarity had had its usual effect. Do none of us ministers, teachers, and others, to whom the gospel and the worship and ordinances of the Church have been familiar from infancy, treat them in the same fashion? Many a hand is laid on the ark, sometimes to keep it from falling, with more criminal carelessness of its sacredness than Uzzah showed. Note, too, how swiftly an irreverent habit of treating holy things grows. The first error was in breaking the commanded order for removal of the ark by the Levites. Once in the cart, the rest follows. The smallest breach in the feeling of awe and reverence will soon lead to more complete profanation. There is nothing more delicate than the sense of awe. Trifled with ever so little, it speedily disappears. There is far too little of it in our modern religion. Perfect love casts out fear and deepens awe which hath not torment.

Was not the punishment in excess of the sin? We must remember the times, the long neglect of the ark, the decay of religion in Saul’s reign, the critical character of the moment as the beginning of a new era, when it was all-important to print deep the impression of sanctity, and the rude material which had to be dealt with; and we must not forget that God, in His punishments, does not adopt men’s ideas of death as such a very dreadful thing. Many since have followed in David’s wake, and been ‘displeased, because the Lord broke forth upon Uzzah’; but he and they have been wrong. He ought to have known better, and to have understood the lesson of the solemn corpse that lay there by the ark; instead of which he gives way to mere terror, and was ‘afraid of the Lord.’ David afraid of the Lord! What had become of the rapturous love and strong trust which ring clear through his psalms? Is this the man who called God his rock and fortress and deliverer, his buckler and the horn of his salvation and his high tower, and poured out his soul in burning words, which glow yet through all the centuries and the darkness of earth? It was ill for David to fall thus below himself, but well for us that the eclipse of his faith and love should be recorded, to hearten us, when the like emotions fall asleep in our souls. His consciousness of impurity was wholesome and sound, but his cowering before the ark, as if it were the seat of arbitrary anger, which might flame out destruction for no discernible reason, was a woful darkening of his loving insight into the heart of God.

III. The last section {2 Samuel 6:10 - 2 Samuel 6:12} gives us the blessings on the house of Obed-edom and the glad removal of the ark to Jerusalem. Obed-edom is called a ‘Gittite,’ or man of Gath; but he does not appear to have been a Philistine immigrant, but a native of another Gath, a Levitical city, and himself a Levite. There is an Obededom in the lists of David’s Levites in Chronicles who is probably the same man. He did not fear to receive the ark, and, worthily received, the presence which had been a source of disaster and death to idolaters, to profanely curious pryers into its secret, and to presumptuous irreverence, became a fountain of unbroken blessing. This twofold effect of the same presence is but a symbol of a solemn law which runs through all life, and is especially manifest in the effects of Christ’s work upon men. Everything has two handles, and it depends on ourselves by which of them we lay hold of it, and whether we shall receive a shock that kills, or blessings. The same circumstances of poverty, or wealth, or sorrow, or temptation, make one man better and another worse. The same presence of God will be to one man a joy; to another, a terror. ‘What maketh heaven, that maketh hell.’ The same gospel received is the fountain of life, purity, peace; and, rejected or neglected, is the source of harm and death. Jesus Christ is ‘set for the fall and rising again of many.’ Either He is the savour of life unto life, the rock on which we build, or He is the savour of death unto death, the stone on which we stumble and break our limbs.2 Samuel 6:1. Again David gathered the chosen men of Israel — Having defeated the Philistines, and enjoyed some peace, he thought it a seasonable time to fetch up the ark, and settle it in an honourable place; and for that purpose summoned the principal persons in Israel to attend. For he was sensible that purity and sincerity in the worship of God was the best, and, indeed, only sure stay of his own power and of his people’s prosperity. And to settle the worship of God, in all its solemnity, was now his object.6:1-5 God is present with the souls of his people, when they want the outward tokens of his presence; but now David is settled in the throne, the honour of the ark begins to revive. Let us learn hence, to think and to speak highly of God; and to think and speak honourably of holy ordinances, which are to us as the ark was unto Israel, the tokens of God's presence, Mt 28:20. Christ is our Ark; in and by him God manifests his favour, and accepts our prayers and praises. The ark especially typified Christ and his mediation, in which the name of Jehovah and all his glories are displayed. The priests should have carried the ark upon their shoulders. Philistines may carry the ark in a cart without suffering for it; but if Israelites do so, it is at their peril, because this was not what God appointed.Again - It should be, "and David again gathered," etc., i. e. after the previous gathering, either for his election to the kingdom 2 Samuel 5:1-3 or for the Philistine war 2 Samuel 5:17-25, he assembled them again for the peaceful purpose of bringing up the ark to Mount Zion (see marginal reference). The whole narrative indicates the progressive consolidation of David's power, and the settlement of his monarchy on strong foundations. CHAPTER 6

2Sa 6:1-5. David Fetches the Ark from Kirjath-jearim on a New Cart.

1. Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel—(See 2Sa 5:1). The object of this second assembly was to commence a national movement for establishing the ark in Jerusalem, after it had continued nearly fifty years in the house of Abinadab (see on [261]1Ch 13:1). David fetcheth the ark with much people and great joy out of the house of Abinadab, 2 Samuel 6:1-5. Uzzah laying hold of the ark is slain of God: David is grieved; carries the ark into the house of Obed-edom, whom God blesseth for its sake, 2 Samuel 6:6-11. David bringeth the ark into Zion with sacrifices; danceth before it; for which Michal despiseth him, 2 Samuel 6:12-16. They place it in a tabernacle: he offereth to God; blesseth the people; giveth them presets, 2 Samuel 6:17-19. Michal reproving David, he answereth her: she is childless to her death, 2 Samuel 6:20-23.

The stoutest and valiantest in his army and land, lest the Philistines should attempt to disturb them in this work.

Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. Which was done by the advice of his officers, 1 Chronicles 13:1; the word "again" refers either to the gathering of them when they made him king in Hebron, as the Jewish writers generally observe; but then they gathered themselves, and not David: or rather to his gathering them to fight the Philistines a little while ago; and as they were the choice and young men that were gathered for war, as being the fittest, so now to fetch up the ark with dancing and singing, and to protect it; the Septuagint version says they were about seventy thousand; but the Targum, Syriac, and Arabic versions, have thirty thousand, agreeably to the Hebrew text. Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1–11. Removal of the Ark from Kirjath-jearim. Uzzah smitten for his irreverence

1. Again, David gathered together] And David gathered together again. “Again” refers either to the assembly convened for David’s coronation (ch. 2 Samuel 5:1-3), or to the muster for the Philistine war recorded in the verses immediately preceding (ch. 2 Samuel 5:17-25).

A more elaborate account of David’s preparations for this ceremony is given in 1 Chronicles 13:1-5. We are there told how David consulted with the representatives of the people, and gathered a general assembly of the whole nation. This important step towards the re-establishment of religious worship must be a national act. The Chronicler’s object in writing leads him to give special attention to details of religious organization, where the writer of Samuel is content to condense his account into a single sentence. See Introd. Ch. III. p. 22.

thirty thousand] The smallness of the number may be explained if we suppose it to refer only to the “captains of thousands and hundreds and every leader” mentioned in 1 Chronicles 13:1. A general assembly of the people would have been much more numerous.Verse 1. - And David gathered together. The long subjection to the Philistines was at an end, and David's first care is to bring the ark of Jehovah from Kirjath-jearim to Jerusalem. In this he had a twofold object. For, first, it was an act of piety, testifying David's gratitude to God, who had so quickly raised him from the condition of a despairing fugitive hiding away in the cave of Adullam to that of a victorious king reigning over an independent and free people. But David had also a political purpose. The weakness of Israel in the past was the result of its divisions, he would heal this by giving it a capital, whither the tribes would come up for worship, and where they would feel that they formed one nation. David had seen the evils of a divided sovereignty, when he and Ishbosheth were wasting the strength of Israel in civil war. For more than half a century he remedied this, but before there had been time for the union of the tribes to be cemented by the gradual influence of religion. Solomon's oppressive levies of unpaid workmen, forced to labour in his costly buildings, and the despotic stupidity of Rehoboam, broke up united Israel into two feeble states, which henceforward had to struggle hard for a mere existence. The condition of Israel was very similar to that of the United States of North America before their great civil war; except that their president, elected by all the people, and their Congress at Washington, were far stronger bonds of union than any that were possessed by the Israelites. But when there was danger of even these failing to keep them together as one people, the statesmen of the north put forth their utmost powers, and spared neither life nor treasure, because they saw clearly that the victory of the south meant the breaking up of their empire into a multitude of feeble governments, which, by their mutual jealousies, would paralyze and thwart one another. With equal discernment David endeavoured to counteract the jealousy and separate action of the tribes, which was bringing about the disintegration of Israel, by giving them a point of union. Had he gone further north for his capital, he might, perhaps, have overawed the stubborn tribe of Ephraim, which was always the most unmanageable of the sections of Israel. But the situation of Jerusalem upon the borders of Benjamin and Judah, on a hill-top which neither had really possessed, and which was marked out for noble use by its wonderful natural conformation, fully justified David's choice; and it has had the assent of mankind ever since. David then made this unrivalled spot his capital, and placed there, first of all, his royal residence, whereby it became the centre of all public business and of the administration of law; and, secondly, as a matter of still higher importance, he made it the headquarters of their national religion and the abode oF their God. We see the weight of this religious influence in the anxiety of Jeroboam to counteract it, and in the strength given to Rehoboam by the migration into Judah of those who valued the temple services more than their worldly prosperity. Even Saul had valued the national religion, and had established its headquarters at Nob; but, giving way to the ungoverned anger of a despot, he had destroyed his own work. It was left to one who to the bravery of a soldier added the discernment of a statesman to consolidate the tribes into a nation by establishing their religion upon a sure and influential basis. For this reason also he made their services full of delight and enjoyment by the institution of choral chants and the use of instruments of music; while the psalms which his singers recited were so spiritual and ennobling that we to this day use them in our solemn worship. Granting that there are expressions in them harsher and more intolerant than a disciple of the loving Jesus would now apply to any earthly enemy, yet, as a whole, the Psalms, written in these rough far off times, still form our best book of devotion! In the parallel place in the First Book of Chronicles we have the narrative of this re-establishment of the Mosaic Law given as looked at on the Levitical side, and with many interesting additions. Here the narrator looks at it with the eye of a statesman. We must not, however, suppose that the history there given is arranged in chronological order, as, if so, the two victories in the Valley of Rephaim would have both taken place in the three months during which the ark was resting in the house of Obed-Edom. If this were so, then David would first have had more than three hundred and forty thousand warriors with him at Hebron to anoint him, and with their aid would have captured Jerusalem. lie would next have assembled thirty thousand picked men to bring the ark up to Zion; and yet would have had only his body guard of "mighty men" wherewith to fight Israel's battles and win its independence. Most probably the order, both here and in Chronicles, is not chronological, and the course of events was as follows. With the help of the men gathered at Hebron David captures Jerusalem. As soon as it is made safe they withdraw, and leave him occupied with planning out and building his city. Alarmed at the vast concourse at Hebron, and made angry by David's seizure of a strong fortress, the Philistines hastily pounce upon him in numbers too vast for him to resist. He escapes, leaving but a few men to defend Jerusalem, and hides in his old fastness. Encouraged there by finding three of his mighties more than a match for the garrison at Bethlehem, he gathers the mere valiant spirits, and makes a sudden attack upon the Philistines, who were engaged in ravaging the country as a punishment for its rebellion. They are defeated, but with no great loss; and so with uubroken strength they again invade the country, and march up once more to Jerusalem, prepared to fight a pitched battle, and seize that fortress as the prize of victory. Again, David, with far larger forces, surprises them, and, driving them from ridge to ridge, so utterly vanquishes them that the power of Philistia was destroyed forever. It was after this double victory that Hiram, King of Tyre, whose dominions bordered upon the Philistines, and who had found them disagreeable neighbours, made a close alliance with David; and so at length, free from all fear at home, and honoured abroad, he was able to turn his thoughts to the consolidation of his kingdom and the establishment of Jehovah's worship. And in the Book of Chronicles we have the details of that spiritual service of psalmody which David added to the Levitical routine of sacrifice, and which bears the significant name of "prophecy," as being the expression of the moral and spiritual side of the Mosaic Law (1 Chronicles 25:1). Instead of "Again David gathered," the words of the Hebrew are" And David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel." The first gathering was at Hebron (2 Samuel 5:1), and before they came David must have given his consent to their wishes, and invited their presence at his anointing. They soon gather together a second time to endow their new kingdom with the safeguards necessary for their spiritual welfare, and the maintenance among them of morality and virtue and the fear of God. Chosen men. This usually means picked men fit for war. But doubtless on this occasion the eiders and all good men possessed of power and influence would be present to strengthen the king's hand. Thirty thousand. A large number, but not too large. David probably chose one of the great feasts for the occasion, and by the presence of a large number of warriors, and the display of much military pomp, he would impress upon the minds of the people the value of religion. They would thus learn also to respect their new capital as being the place where was the presence of their Deity, and where they were to come to worship him. David inquired of the Lord by the Urim whether he should go out against the foe, and whether God would give them into his hand;

(Note: Through the express statement that David inquired of Jehovah (viz., by the Urim) in both these conflicts with the Philistines (2 Samuel 5:19 and 2 Samuel 5:23), Diestel's assertion, that after the death of Saul we do not read any more about the use of the holy lot, is completely overthrown, as well as the conclusion which he draws from it, namely, that "David probably employed it for the purpose of giving a certain definiteness to his command over his followers, over whom he had naturally but little authority (1 Samuel 22:2?), rather than because he looked upon it himself with any peculiar reverence.")

and when he had received an answer in the affirmative to both these questions, he went to Baal-perazim (lit. into Baal-perazim), and smote them there, and said (2 Samuel 5:20), "Jehovah hath broken mine enemies before me like a water-breach," i.e., has smitten them before me, and broken their power as a flood breaks through and carries away whatever opposes it. From these words of David, the place where the battle was fought received the name of Baal-perazim, i.e., "possessor of breaches" (equivalent to Bruch-hausen or Brechendorf, Breach-ham or Break-thorpe). The only other passage in which the place is mentioned is Isaiah 28:21, where this event is alluded to, but it cannot have been far from the valley of Rephaim.

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