2 Sam 6:1-23 and 1 Chron 15:1-29 tell the story of how David the king brought the ark of the covenant – the symbol of God’s presence with His people – back to Jerusalem. Both stories are needed to gain a fuller picture of what happened in the two stages of the story: the first journey characterised by death (the death of Uzzah) and the second by dancing (David’s worshipful response to God’s presence.)
1 Chron 15 acts as an interpretation of 2 Sam 6, for in that chapter, there is no explanation as to why God’s anger should burn so fiercely against Uzzah. In the three months between the first and second journey, David has clearly sought God. He may have been frustrated and even angry with God, but he is wise enough to seek God for an explanation and in 1 Chron 15:13 says, ‘‘It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.’
David’s initial reaction – of frustration and anger – did not become his final reaction, and this is one reason he has so much to teach us. He was prepared to seek God for understanding and was big enough to change the way he did things: ‘So the priests and Levites consecrated themselves in order to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel. And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the Lord.‘ (1 Chron 15:14-15)
David learnt the lesson we would all do well to learn: worship is all about God. It means doing things God’s way and putting God first; self-forgetful abandonment is necessary. Michal represents the Pharisee in all of us: how we like to do things decently, in order, with decorum, all the time being more concerned about appearances than about God. Such worship is grievous to God (see Amos 5:21-24) because God looks at the heart. Michal remained barren after this; to despise those who worship God is a dangerous thing to do.
Our worship must be focussed on God and not on our selves. It must involve our whole hearts – and at times we will run the risk of being accused of being undignified, reckless, even perhaps a little crazy. What matters most? – the acclaim of people or the acceptance of God?