As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Saul's daughter Michal looked down from a window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, and she despised him in her heart.
I. WHY FERVENT RELIGIOUS ZEAL IS DESPISED.
1. Alleged reasons; as
(1) that it is fanatical; or
(2) unintellectual, a sign of weak mind; a style of religion fit only for women and weak-minded men; or
(3) hypocritical; or
(4) not respectable.
The better sort of people, it is alleged, keep their religion within due bounds; certainly will eschew forms of religious earnestness which associate closely the upper classes with the common people.
2. Secret causes. May be:
(1) Ignorance. Want of knowledge of Christianity. Acquaintance with its great facts, doctrines, and precepts, and the exemplification of them in the lives of our Lord and his apostles, would make it clear that they demand and justify the utmost warmth of love and zeal; so that for Christians to be zealous in holding, practising, and propagating their religion is simply to be consistent.
(2) Irreligion, with or without knowledge. Unbelief or disbelief. The absence of religious faith and feeling. Possibly a settled hatred of religion and goodness. Men of this class cannot possibly understand or appreciate the operations of religion in the heart. The sincerely religious may disapprove of certain forms in which others display their zeal, but they will not indulge contempt of them.
(3) Formalism or superficiality in religion. To which ardent devotion and self-consecration are unintelligible.
(4) Pride of intellect, taste, or station. "Hath any of the rulers believed on him, or of the Pharisees? But this multitude which knoweth not the Law are accursed" (John 7:48, 49, Revised Version).
(5) Sometimes would be found secret uneasiness. Zeal in others awakens conscience, which utters condemnation; and conscience is relieved (or attempted to be) by fixing attention on what is regarded as objectionable in the religious zeal of others, and cherishing contempt for them.
(6) Religious bigotry, which has no tolerance for forms of religion, however sincere and good those who adopt them may be, that differ from those of the bigot himself. The piety of many good men is sadly marred by this spirit, and its earnestness feeds something very like hatred of fellow Christians. In this case also contempt springs largely from ignorance, as well as from a lack of that principle of religion which is supereminent, viz. love.
II. WHY SUCH ZEAL OUGHT NOT TO BE DESPISED.
1. It is in harmony with right reason. In view of the nature and works of God and our obligations to him, especially the redeeming love of God in Christ, the evils from which we are redeemed, the blessings which are brought within our reach, the cost of our redemption. It is not zeal, but indifference and coldness, which are irrational. Nothing but the willing devotement of heart and life to Christ is suitable as a return for his love. Devotion without warmth, service which is ever measured and stinted, are absurd.
2. It is required by Holy Scripture. The great duties of Christianity, love to God and man, necessarily include warmth and earnestness. And the terms in which we are exhorted to seek our own salvation and the good of others all imply zeal; the production of which is represented as one great end of the offering of himself by Christ (Titus 2:14).
3. It is countenanced by the highest and best society. By cherubim and seraphim, angels and archangels, apostles, prophets, martyrs, saints in heaven and on earth, and him who is higher than them all, the Lord Jesus Christ, to whose burning zeal we owe everything. The grandest intellects in the universe may be appealed to by the zealous Christian.
4. It is productive of the greatest good. Christianity has conferred and is conferring the greatest blessings on mankind, and is ever extending the area of its beneficial influence. But it is its zealous, not its cold-hearted, adherents to whom men owe its extension and powerful operation.
5. It secures the approbation of God, and final acceptance and reward. He who zealously uses his talents is to be received into the joy of his Lord, while the slothful servant is rejected 'rod punished. The highly respectable and self-complacent Church at Laodicea is severely reproved and threatened on account of its lukewarmness (Revelation 3:15, 16). Only religion in earnest fits for heaven. There are no lukewarm Christians there. Finally:
1. Let despisers of zealous Christians beware lest they be found despising Christ and God (Luke 10:16).
2. Let zealous Christians take heed of needlessly exposing their religion to contempt. As by associating it with things unworthy of it, such as narrowness of mind, cant, eccentricity, worldly policy, excessive ceremonialism, great ardour about small matters, little ardour about great matters, uncharitableness.
3. Some zeal in religion deserves to be despised. That, in particular, which is dissociated from truth, uprightness, holiness, or love. True religious zeal includes zeal for these; and no ardour of professed religion can be a substitute for them. - G.W.
Michal, Saul's daughter, looked through a window.I. THE TEMPER AND CONDUCT OF A SCOFFER AT RELIGION. Michal scorned David in her heart, because, being a king, she thought it unbecoming his dignity, and derogatory to his high place in Israel, that he should welcome the ark of God with leaping and dancing. And so it is, at this day, in many of the higher walks of life. The service of God is left, as an employment too servile for those who are among the mighty of the land, and fitted only for the poor, the illiterate, and the mean of the earth; as if the service of Him before whom archangels bow with adoring reverence, even the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, were beneath the notice of those who must perish for ever, if He look not upon them in love, and wash them not from their sins in that blood, which they are now trampling under foot in high disdain. It added deeply to David's trial that among all the multitudes of Israel none was found to despise him save Michal, his wife. There was much and cutting unkindness in the manner of Michal's reproach; and it is one of the frightful features of our lost and fallen nature that the severity and keenness of opposition for the truth's sake, which the servants of Christ experience from the enemies of Christ, is in proportion to the nearness of relationship or connexion between the parties; just as the civil wars of our own land, and of every land, have invariably been more sanguinary in their battles, more unsparing in their confiscations, and more cruel in their executions, than those which were waged with foreign states. Michal did not content herself with despising David in her heart, and yet showing him outward respect; but when he returned from glorifying God and blessing the people to bless his own household, she met him at his entrance, and with a deep, ,bitter sarcasm and irony exclaimed to him, "How glorious was the King of Israel to-day!" Her duty as a wife, her duty as a subject, were both forgotten, and she dishonoured her husband and her sovereign before his people and his family. How awful is the enmity of a sinner's heart against God in Christ! How fearfully doth it break through all barriers that oppose its indulgence, and bow continually do we see it sweeping away, not only all the charities but all the decencies of-domestic life! And yet we speak of the dignity of human nature! May God help us, and correct our delusions on this cardinal point of His own truth and Scripture!
II. THE MIND AND SPIRIT OF A TRUE BELIEVER. In a broad and palpable contrast did the character of David stand to that of Michal; and as the one exhibited the tone and temper of a scoffer at religion, the other will exemplify the mind and spirit of a true believer in the Lord Jesus. He gloried in the service which was thus visited with reproach, and counted to him for shame. David said unto Michal, "It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me a ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel; therefore will I play before the Lord." And here is the solid scriptural ground of a believer's joy, and glory, and gratitude to God. Who made him to differ? Nothing so fully crucifies self as a view of distinguishing love in the covenant of grace, writing our names in the book of life, sealing the record upon our hearts, and bidding us rest in the blessed persuasion that we have obtained mercy, and shall be one with Christ for ever. If called to serve Jehovah, to confess Him openly, and to own Him even among unbelievers, in His own house, he will not shrink, but take up the cross of this holy singularity, and bear it gladly after Jesus. Are you counted vile and mean, because you prefer the service of Him who bought you with His blood, to the infidelity of a world that lieth in the wicked one? Be yet more base, yet more vile, if any glory may thereby accrue to Him.
(R. P. Buddicom.)
1. The first striking feature of her character is the admiration of the heroic for its own sake, the undue estimation of the man in his vigour sad success, and the tendency to worship at that shrine.
2. But Michal was as narrow and confined on other occasions as she had been bold and noble in these. David danced before the ark, and she despised him. If we seek the cause of this inconsistency it will appear to consist in a kind of selfishness. She despised him! Woman is essentially jealous, she is created so, and she should be so, it is her province. She is created to receive an amount of attention and devotion, the best preservation of which lies in her jealousy of it. But jealousy may assume too much the air of selfishness. It may become selfish, narrow, and narrowing:
3. But again, Michal could not appreciate especially the religious act, while she could that of the mere world-hero. She was like her father. It belonged to her relationship, to her parent, not to her capacity as a female. Herein She was unlike her brother Jonathan, who did fully appreciate and value the religious element in David's character. Women often apply the same standard which has been given them at birth by which to judge of the ordinary occurrences which fall within the usual scope of their duties to those which fail without them, and accordingly by false judgment despise what they cannot understand. So prudence is allowed to extinguish the light of more luminous virtues, and the arrangements of a household to derange those of the Church. The faults of violent temper, disrespect to a husband or a parent, irritability to children, injustice to servants, are counted as of small importance so as they are exercised to save a shilling; whereas the truth will be that the precaution far transcends in moral infirmity the fault which it is intended to check.
4. But again, Michal despised David in her heart, and followed up her inward contempt with words of insult and reproach. This seems to infer not only a contempt for David, but a cherished one, a contempt long unexpressed, and because hidden the more dangerous and melancholy. She did not try to check it, she allowed the feeling to heave and work within her until it broke out into the expressions of the text. There is a duty in respecting a husband. Independently of arranging his household, tending his hours of care, of sickness or weariness, quite apart from the desire to defend him from reproach, and to ward oft the imputation of blame. There is a duty in the deep, inward, cherished feeling of respect. The office of the husband is as much to be respected as that of the parent, or the civil ruler. The woman must "see that she reverence her husband."
5. Michal despised peculiarly the act of David, his dancing before the ark, she said he was like "the vain fellows;" she cast opprobrious language on the man who with many infirmities was the man after God's own heart. Sad is it when any one looks out to discover his brother's failing; sadder still when that brother is one on whom God has set the seal of His approval; saddest of all, when a child looks out to expose the parent, or a wife the husband. But Michal's punishment was significant. She was childless, and that because she despised David. It mattered not what amount of truth there was in her charge. It mattered not how others supported her. It mattered not how much she found abettors in her circle of society or friends, she was not the person to censure her husband. She was not the instrument of his reproof. If there was anyone who should be, it was not Michal. She at least was to blame: She fell under God's malediction, quite irrespectively of the truth or justice of her charge.
(Alex. Whyte, D. D.)
(Alex. Whyte, D. D.)
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