A big difference between King Saul and King David can be seen in how they treated the Ark of the Covenant. Saul basically ignored it and God. In his forty-year reign, Saul only mentioned it one time (1 Sam. 14:18) when he wanted God’s help to defeat his enemy. David made the Ark a central part of his reign.
Some people treat God like the paramedics—they only call when they have an emergency! Many want to keep God at a safe distance (close enough to be saved, but far enough to run their own lives). A church sign reads, “Don’t social distance from God!” Don’t be like Saul who sought God only when he needed help. One of the first things David did as king was move the Ark to Jerusalem close to his palace. As a true worshipper, he wanted to be close to the Ark and God’s presence.
By moving the Ark to Zion, David was saying “God is important to me. Spiritual things are my top priority. I want to be as close to God as possible.” While his motives were right, the method was wrong. The first attempt to move it was a fiasco ending in a funeral. They made the mistake of putting it on an ox cart (2 Sam. 6:3). They didn’t learn from the Philistine’s and the Bethshemites’ blunders that provoked God’s wrath and resulted in plagues and deaths (1 Sam. 5 & 6). God let the ignorant heathen treat the Ark as common cargo, but not His people who knew better. The priests were to carry it on their shoulders whenever it was transported. They used a man-made cart instead of handling the Ark God’s way. God’s glory doesn’t come through man’s methods! Sacred things should not be treated carelessly or casually.
David led the festive parade with music, singing, and dancing but the celebration ceased when the cart hit a bump and the Ark shook. Uzzah tried to steady it but, when he touched it, he was stricken dead. So, they parked it at Obed-Edom’s house for three months while they studied how to move it properly. Meanwhile, “The Lord blessed Obed-Edom and his entire household” (2 Samuel 6:11, NLT). Later, he was appointed to minister before the Ark continually in David’s new Tabernacle (1 Chr. 16:4-6).
Then David presided over a second procession to bring the Ark to Zion (2 Sam. 6:12-23). This time the priests hoisted it on their shoulders as God required. David could have sat in his palace and dictated and spectated. Instead, he participated. He got so excited he couldn’t contain his joy and “Danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod” (2 Sam. 6:14, NKJV). Notice David removed his kingly attire and put on an ephod (a priestly garment). He didn’t sit on his throne and tell people how to worship, he showed people how to worship. David put his position and pride aside to exalt Jehovah—the true KING! David is a fitting type of Christ who laid aside His heavenly throne to become our priest.
Moving the Ark to Zion was a glorious event for Israel. Most people were thrilled, but naysayers will always rain on your parade. Sourpuss Michal, King Saul’s daughter and David’s wife, watched through a window and “despised him in her heart” (2 Sam. 6:16). She wanted him to act like a king not a priest! Kings rule, priests serve. She was ashamed because he wasn’t acting dignified. Our ego wants us to act like kings—show everyone who’s boss, bark out orders, and make others serve you. God wants us to be a priest—remove our phony facades and serve Him and others. Are we kings or priests? Do we demand that people serve us or do we serve them?
Notice Michal’s sarcasm, “How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today . . . as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (2 Sam. 6:20) She made it sound like he was prancing naked, but he was wearing “a robe of fine linen” (1 Chr. 15:27). She wanted him to act like a proud king, but David dressed and acted like a humble priest. If you get too extreme praising God, somebody will criticize you. Remember, Mary poured her alabaster box of ointment on Jesus and the disciples threw a fit. David’s response in modern slang, “Girl, you ain’t seen nothing yet!” (2 Sam. 6:22).
The Ark arrived in Jerusalem—it’s home for the next 456 years until Solomon’s Temple was destroyed in 586 B.C. David made Zion his political capitol and the spiritual epicenter of Israel by bringing the Ark and setting up a new Tabernacle. David’s Tabernacle revolved around worship. He appointed Levites to minster before the Ark around the clock (1 Chr. 16:1-6, 37). There was apparently no veil in David’s Tabernacle, no barrier to hide the Ark. It speaks of New Testament worship that grants us unlimited access into God’s presence. The modern worship music movement is a trend David pioneered over 3,000 years ago. If David held such deep affection for a golden box, shouldn’t we fall in love with what that box represents—the presence and glory of our God?
Ben Godwin is the author of five books and pastors the Goodsprings Full Gospel Church. You can read more articles or order his books @ bengodwin.org.