The Ark Regarded with a Fearful Heart
2 Samuel 6:9, 10
And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the LORD come to me?

And David was afraid of the Lord that day (ver. 9). By none was "the disaster of Uzzah" more keenly felt than by the king. He was disappointed, grieved, and displeased at the interruption of the enterprise on which he had set his heart; and, clearly perceiving the primary offence that had been committed, he was angry with all who were responsible for it, not least with himself (2 Corinthians 7:11). "The burning of David's auger was not directed against God, but referred to the calamity which had befallen Uzzah, or, speaking more correctly, to the cause of the calamity which David attributed to himself or to his undertaking" (Keil). His attitude of soul toward Jehovah "that day" was not, indeed, altogether what it should have been. Conscious of sinfulness and liability to err, he was full of apprehension of a similar judgment on himself, if he should receive the ark; and his fear (though springing up in a devout heart) was an oppressive, paralyzing, superstitious terror, like that of the men of Bethshemesh (1 Samuel 6:20), rather than an enlightened, submissive, and becoming reverence. "This was his infirmity; though some will have it to be his humility" (Trapp). We thus see wherein fear is -

I. NEEDFUL. It is as natural and proper a motive as gratitude, hope, or love; is often enjoined; and, in the sense of unbounded reverence, it constitutes "the religious feeling in its fundamental form" (Martensen). To men in their present condition it is specially needful in order to:

1. Arrest heedless footsteps and constrain to serious reflection and self-examination. "Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling" (Psalm 2:11; Psalm 4:4).

2. Convince of sin, restrain pride and presumption, and lead to godly sorrow.

3. Deter from disobedience, and induce circumspection and diligence (Psalm 89:7; Proverbs 16:6; 1 Corinthians 10:12; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Philippians 2:12; 1 Peter 1:17). "Fear is a great bridle of intemperance, the modesty of the spirit, and the restraint of gaieties and dissolutions; it is the girdle to the soul and the handmaid to repentance; the mother of consideration and the nurse of sober counsels. But this so excellent grace is soon abused in the best and most tender spirits. When it is inordinate, it is never a good counsellor, nor makes a good friend; and he that fears God as his enemy is the most completely miserable person in the world" (Jeremy Taylor, 'Of Godly Fear').

II. SINFUL. It is so when associated with:

1. Misinterpretation and false judgments of God's dealings; such false judgments being themselves due to personal disappointment or other self-blinding influence. "In his first excitement and dismay David may not have perceived the real and deeper ground of this Divine judgment;" and thought that God had dealt hardly with him.

2. Suspicion, distrust, and "the evil heart of unbelief departing from the living God;" from which even the best of men are not exempt, especially when impressed with his severity and forgetful of his goodness (Romans 11:22).

3. Servile thoughts of the service of God, as a restraint upon freedom and a source of trouble and danger. "How shall the ark of the Lord come to me?"

4. Immoderate and morbid indulgence of the feeling, instead of immediate return to God at "the throne of grace," in penitence, hope, and renewed devotion (1 Samuel 16:2; 1 Samuel 28:1).


1. Producing inward distraction and despondency.

2. Estranging from the fellowship and service of God, and preventing the accomplishment of holy purposes. How many excellent enterprises are abandoned through unworthy fears!

3. Depriving of invaluable blessings. The loss of David appears by the gain of Obed-Edom (ver. 11), into whose dwelling the ark brought sunshine and prosperity. But with time and reflection his misjudgments were corrected, his faith revived, his fear was sanctified (Psalm 101:2) and associated with holy and ardent aspiration after the presence of God in his tabernacle, and he wrote Psalm 15., 'The character of the true worshipper and friend of God.'

"Jehovah, who may sojourn in thy tabernacle?
Who may dwelt in thy holy mountain?
He that walketh uprightly and worketh righteousness,
And speaketh truth in his heart ....
He that doeth these things shall never be moved."

(Psalm 15:1-5.) D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the LORD come to me?

WEB: David was afraid of Yahweh that day; and he said, "How shall the ark of Yahweh come to me?"

Dread of God
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