“Our Heart Is Glad in Him”

2 Samuel

“Our heart is glad in Him” (Psalm 33:21)

I. The Lord establishes David in Jerusalem.

A. David defeated the Jebusites and took Jerusalem (Verses 6-10)

  1. This city is the ancient Salem (Psalm 76:2) well-known in Abrahams’s time and the residence of Melchisedek, The king-priest whose life was a prophecy of the work of Jesus (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 6:20-7:28).
  2. During the conquest of the land, the tribe of Benjamin allowed these people to live there and they soon became a strong force (Judges 19:10-12).
  3. In order to stabilize his kingdom around a capital city, David had to get rid of the Jebusites, who should have been eliminated in the conquest.
  4. Their pride against David, expressed in a hyperbole, was ill-founded as David entered the city through a water tunnel. Some suggest that the “lame and the blind” were the gods of the Jebusites who had “eyes but do not see, . . . feet but do not walk” (Psalm 115:5-7).
  5. Whether a statement that the least and weakest among them could defeat David, or a reference to their gods despised by David [explaining why they were “hated by David’s soul], David took the city and began to turn it into the glory of his kingdom.

B. The King of Tyre built a house for David.

  1. Beautiful material and skilled laborers were sent by Hiram to build for David a house commensurate with future glory of David’s kingdom. Hiram is doing for David materially what God promised to do spiritually for eternity (7:11, 16, 25).
  2. This act of kindness, or of political strategy, by Hiram, David attributed to the Lord’s promises, receiving this exaltation as an indication of God’s covenantal purpose toward Israel.

C. David increased his household. We find in the story of David the faithfulness of God’s covenant promises, his sovereign lovingkindness given to David, which had a transforming effect on David and made him a man after God’s own heart. Also, we see many actions along the way that show David’s weakness and mistakes that compromised his life and his kingdom. In an effort to tie himself more closely to many of the leading families of Jerusalem, David took wives, as well as concubines from these families. Though one may reason that David looked to the example of some of the patriarchs and also sought political advantage, he cannot be justified in such egregious violation of the purpose of marriage. Surely he knew the books of Moses and the original purpose of marriage as recorded in Genesis 1 and 2. The ease with which he entered into other families by marriage surely had an influence on his initial justification for taking Bathsheba. His many wives did not satisfy him but only broke down his resistance to the coveting of his neighbor’s wife.

D. David Defeated the Philistines. They sought to defeat David in the infancy of his rule over the entire nation of Israel. Until then they had kept their distance. Perhaps Achish who had befriended David was still alive and now had died. Also they knew that the civil war in Israel might greatly diminish their military potential; the Philistines would wait for Israel’s self-destruction. Now, however, that David has been crowned, they decide to strike before he can achieve stability.

  1. The first attempt ends in a defeat for the Philistine army and a destruction of their gods (5:21). David inquired of God for assurance of success. This appeared to be an attack face-to-face in which his army made a breach in the army of the Philistines.
  2. The Philistines regathered for another attempt to destroy David and take the land of Israel. Again, David inquired of the Lord. The strategy this time was different. Take a circuitous route, go behind them, and wait for a movement in the tops of the trees. The Lord of hosts, was sending his hosts of angels to carry the day in the battle. The Lord would send his host before to secure the victory. In the same way, the disciples were told to wait “for the promise of the Father;” Then on the day of Pentecost “there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind.” On that day many were slain for the Lord and 3,000 were baptized.


II. David attempted to bring back the Ark. (6:1-11)

A. He carried a great host with him in this endeavor central to the worship of Israel. The ark had been captured during the time that Eli was judge when his sons took it into battle (1 Samuel 4:11). Neither Dagon (the god of the Philistines) nor the Philistines could abide the presence of the ark. Death and plague afflicted them while the ark was in their territory (1 Samuel 5-6:12).

  1. The ark had been lodged at Kirjath-Jearim in the house of Abinadab since the Philistines sent it back to Israel (1 Samuel 7:1). Over 50,000 men of the region of Beth Shemesh had been killed because they looked into the ark (1 Samuel 6:19).
  2. Perhaps thinking that the Philistines might make another attack while he was bringing the ark back, David took 30,000of the “choice” men of Israel to accompany the ark back to Jerusalem. Also such a number would include the leading elders of various towns that all of Israel would participate in this glorious restoration.

B. He chose a method of transfer unwarranted by God.

  1. Whereas on previous occasions, David had inquired of the Lord concerning his action, on this occasion he did not. Ironically, God had revealed how the ark was to be transported so that no special inquiry was needed (Exodus 25:12-15; Numbers 4:14, 15).
  2. They used a method that had been used by the Philistines when they moved the ark back into Israelite territory (1 Samuel 6:7-12). Since it had been transferred safely by the pagans in this way, why would that not suffice for the covenant people?
  3. Those who are ignorant of special provisions of positive commands may not be held accountable for them. To those to whom they are given, however, such commands are vital elements of a life of worship and obedience. Ignoring them or substituting something else for them is sin.

C. God killed Uzzah. One of the oxen stumbled and the ark moved. Uzzah, a son of Abinadab, reached to steady it and was struck dead (see Number 4:15).

  1. Uzzah’ death came in precise accordance with the warning. This is a clear indication of the absolute holiness of God and that all of us are susceptible to death at any moment. We are all lawbreakers and all the moments in which we are preserved from hell are filled with sovereign mercy.
  2. In all aspects of divine worship, we are to do what God has told us to do: in reading of Scripture, in prayer, in singing, in giving, in observing the ordinances, in preaching. What he has not commanded we are not to do. We do not invent ways to worship God but worship according to his revealed truth. His name is holy and we do not presume to be wiser than he in our approach to his throne of grace and perfect justice.
  3. In a strange way, Uzzah is a type of Christ. All of those who participated in this parade of disobedience were susceptible to death, but God laid on him the guilt of them all. He alone was afflicted. He took the wrath so that all the others might live. Of course the difference is that Uzzah also bore his own guilt and Christ had no guilt to bear. “He died the just for the unjust.”

D. David’s emotions make him unsettled concerning this issue.

  1. David became angry. Did he have any right to be angry? None at all. God did exactly as he had promised for such a violation. Nor do we ever have any right to be angry with God as if our pleasure, our wisdom, our supposed rights, our consideration of our dignity transcended his. Though some counselors might say that it is OK to be angry with God, they are wrong. We submit to all that God does, for if it seems good to him, then it is right for his glory, and will soon work for our transformation.
  2. David was afraid and concluded that there was no way to get the ark to Jerusalem. That the ark itself had the place of propitiation did not occur to David in that moment, but he indulged the very emotion that was to be alleviated by the proper use of the ark. God’s covenant to provide atonement should give us joy and hope, not fear; “he who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:17, 18)
  3. He was unwilling to move the ark any further. This is a bit of a pout. His plans did not work out perfectly the first time, so he simply will not even try to accomplish the very thing that initially he had discerned was right.


III. David Successfully brings back the ark. David learned that the house of Obed-edom had been blessed. If God’s covenant presence is honored in a right spirit and according to his revealed truth, blessings abound. David was willing to try again, so that the presence of the ark would be accessible to all of Israel, not only a single household. Fear, anger, and pouting had now turned to gladness.

A. The ark is moved according to revelation. “The bearers of the ark”—this indicates that they had read concerning the movement of the ark and were conforming to the instructions. It is so stated specifically in 1 Chronicles 15:15: “as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.”

B. Sacrifice was made after 6 paces. After the first six steps, David had the priests sacrifice an ox and a fat sheep. The symbolism of six steps means that the seventh is a Sabbath act of entering into rest. David foreshadowed the Sabbath rest granted by the sacrifice of Christ (See Hebrews 4 and Psalm 95:7). Psalm 95, in fact, is a fitting call to praise for this very occasion and could have been written by David for this purpose. It contains the exuberance exhibited here as well as the warning against disobedience to the Lord’s commands.

C. David and all the people involved were celebrating this event with jubilation.

  1. David wore, not his kingly robes but a light and humble garment used in service for the Lord. Priests wore elegantly woven and richly adorned ephods in their service (Exodus 25:7), but more humble versions were used at other times and even by non-priestly persons (1 Samuel 2:18). Doeg killed 85 men of the priestly family who “wore a linen ephod” and had been involved in his protection from Saul; David had inquired of the Lord while holding an ephod.
  2. He took this garment as a symbol of the service of Samuel, the sacrifice of those who had protected his life, and the particular guidance of the Lord in his life. Having so recently experienced tragic failure in this attempt, now he felt exhilaration in knowing the requirements of God and placing the symbol of God’s merciful redemptive presence to his people in the city.
  3. David’s personality was given to pressing all of his energy into all that he did (Psalm 18:28-34) as he savored God’s favors towards him (Psalm 20:6-9). Particularly in worship, he had no tendency to mediocrity or reserve either in his expressions of joy and delight in God (Psalm 27:1-4), expressions of a sense of abandonment (Psalm 22:1-8), or in his confession of sin and corruption in himself (Psalm 32:3, 4; 51:1-5).
  4. Those who were skilled with instruments played them, and David exerted all his strength in manifesting the consuming joy and gratitude he had in this experience. He danced “with all his might . . . before the Lord.”

D. It is culminated with placing the ark in a tent for that purpose and authorizing a burnt offering and a peace offering. David knew that the ark represented the certainty that God would give reconciliation to his people through the perfect and complete sacrifice of a substitute for sinners. David also distributed to those who had joined the celebration several items of food indicating their participation in the blessings of God’s merciful presence as symbolized in the ark.


IV. Michal is offended at the actions of David. (verses 16, 20-23)

A. She saw his actions and “despised him in her heart.” Perhaps welling up in her were the personal offenses she felt in his gathering wives and the Lord’s rejection of her father Saul in favor of David. The text calls her “the daughter of Saul,” and she was more Saul-like than wifely in this confrontation. Her words would demonstrate the mouth speaks from the heart.

  1. She was overcome by the sense of personal offense. She piled up in her emotions all the things in which she felt David had been insensitive to her. She looked at his life, not from the standpoint of the gracious actions of God toward him but in terms of how she viewed his actions toward her.
  2. We must be warned by this as to our tendency to look upon the worth and actions of others as filtered through selfish motivations and not in terms of God’s gifts and providence toward them.

B. She turned David’s attempt to bless his household into a confrontation.

  1. David had been involved in a deeply moving experience and had seen the goodness of God toward the entire nation expressed in this return of the ark. He had taken personal interest in all of those who had joined him and was now going to his own household to help them share in this sense of transcendent goodness.
  2. Michal shares none of this with David. He is confronted by Michal before he enters his house.
  • She is sarcastic with him indicating that he has conducted himself in a way beneath his station in life. She has felt humiliated in David’s abandonment to joy.
  • She has accused him of immoral conduct, exposing himself to the maids that had joined the procession. This accusation arises from pride and anger and does not reflect reality.
  • She obviously had no sympathy—either emotional or spiritual—with David’s perception of the significance of this event. David was totally focused on the Lord’s grace to Israel in giving them, among all the nations of the earth, this type of the Redeemer, who would save his people from their sins. David was saying in his heart, “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth” (Psalm 57:9-11). She interpreted his exuberance as humiliating and his intent as lascivious.

C. He was not lured into a false apology by her critical language, but maintained a sense of God’s purpose.

  1. He reaffirmed that his action was done before the Lord and in praise of him. He had no consciousness of lost pride or of intended enticement but only that he had given himself to the deep sense of consuming praise to the Lord.
  2. He knew that his position had been given him by the choice of God and that he must be a leader primarily in showing his people that worship and praise of God was the highest of all human duties. His people should be conscious above all things of the goodness of God—not of the pride of their position—and embrace the privilege of being restored to the original purpose of knowing and praising him. “Therefore I will celebrate before the Lord.”
  3. For the sake of God’s glory he would be humiliated even more for he must be nothing in his own eyes in order that he might point to the greatness of the Lord.
  4. The “maids” to whom she referred had a better grasp of what was happening than she did, for he knew that, in their eyes, he would not be diminished in stature, for they too shared his Godward joy in the coming of the ark to Jerusalem.
Tom has most recently served as the Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was Professor of Church History and Chair of the Department of Church History. Prior to that, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Along with numerous journal articles and scholarly papers, Dr. Nettles is the author and editor of fifteen books. Among his books are By His Grace and For His Glory; Baptists and the Bible, James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman, and Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles H. Spurgeon.
Get Founders
in Your Inbox
A weekly brief of our new teaching resources.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Teaching BY TYPE
Teaching BY Author
Founders Podcasts