2 Samuel 6:9
And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the LORD come to me?…
The death of Uzzah made David "afraid of the Lord," and deterred him from fulfilling his purpose to bear the ark into the place which he had prepared for it in his newly founded metropolis. He seems for the time to have dreaded lest it should bring evil with it instead of good - a curse instead of a blessing. So the vast assembly was dispersed, and the day which was to have been so glorious and auspicious ended in disappointment and gloom. David's feeling is an illustration of religious terror, or the dread of God.
I. ITS NATURE.
1. It is to be distinguished from that "fear of the Lord" which is so often inculcated in the Word of God, and which is especially characteristic of the piety of the Old Testament. This is reverence of God, of his nature, authority, and laws. It includes, indeed, a dread of offending him, because of the certainty and terribleness of punishment; but it includes also veneration, esteem, and love. The feeling which is described in the text is simply alarm, terror.
2. It may be awakened by various causes.
(1) Terrible acts of God: sudden deaths, as that of Uzzah, those of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:5, 10, 11); violent tempests; earthquakes; deadly pestilence.
(2) Terrible aspects of his nature. Holiness and hatred of sin; justice, displeasure against sinners; together with his perfect knowledge and unbounded power.
(3) His threatenings.
(4) The consciousness of sin. This is the secret of the dread which springs from the thought of God. A solemn awe is compatible with innocence, but the holy would not be "afraid of God," or if for a moment, at some startling and threatening event, only for a moment.
II. ITS VALUE. In itself and standing alone, it is of no religious worth at all. It is compatible with enmity to God, which is the opposite of true religion. When it springs into the heart of a good man it may be associated with very wrong feeling. David was "displeased" with God, while "afraid" of him (ver. 8). It tends to drive them from him while seeming to draw them to him; for it is apt to generate a religion without love, without even reverence - an obedience which is slavish and destitute of true virtue. It is favourable to superstition, indeed, and may stimulate to great liberality; but, while acting alone, it cannot produce genuine godliness and true holiness. It is the feeling on which priestcraft in all lands flourishes. Yet it is good as a first step in those that need it, and a preparation for what is better; and some measure of it, blended with other emotions, is always of value to many, if not all. In Psalm 119., where every feeling of a pious soul finds expression, this is included (ver. 120). And our Lord enjoins it as a safeguard against the fear of man (Luke 12:4, 5). This fear is of great value:
1. To arouse the conscience and prepare for better things. Many are so hardened that they are incapable of being, in the first instance, drawn by love; their fears must be excited.
2. To make the gospel welcome; which, revealing the love of God and the redemption which is by Jesus Christ, is fitted and intended to allay the dread of God and awaken confidence and affection.
3. To stimulate in obedience to God and deter from sin. It is true that love is the noblest stimulus, and that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18); but love is not perfect in this world, and fear is needed when temptation is strong and the better feelings are for the time dormant. - G.W.
Parallel VersesKJV: And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the LORD come to me?