2 Samuel 6:1-19 – David Brings the Ark to Jerusalem


2 Samuel 6:1-19


David brings the ark of the covenant, the symbol of God’s presence among the Israelites, to Jerusalem. This has the effect of making Jerusalem the Holy City, Israel’s religious center, as well as David’s political capital.


With the conquest of the Jebusites and the defeat of the Philistines, Jerusalem is now under David’s control. These military victories have paved the way for the establishment of Jerusalem as the Holy City. This is accomplished by bringing the ark of the covenant from its resting place in the house of Abinadab to Jerusalem.

A David moves the ark from Gibeah (vv. 1-4)
B Rejoicing (v. 5)
C Uzzah offends God (vv. 6-8)
D David brings ark to house of Obed-edom (vv. 9-11a)
E The Lord blesses Obed-edom (vv. 11b-12a)
A′ David moves the ark from the house of Obed-edom (vv. 12b-13)
B′ Rejoicing (vv. 14-15)
C′ David offends Michal (v. 16)
D′ David brings the ark to the tent (v. 17)
E′ Blessing (vv. 18-23)

Joy and sorrow are intermingled in the poignant episode in which Uzzah loses his life for seeking to prevent the ark from tipping (vv. 6-8).But this was a grave error, not a simple mistake. . Back in 1 Sam 6 and 7, after the Philistines returned the ark, a large number of men from Beth-Shemesh died after mishandling the ark. Therefore, the ark was taken to the house of Abinadab on a hill in Kiriath-Jearim (the city of forests), where it was watched over by Abinadab’s son, Eleazer for 20 years (1 Samuel 6:19-7:2). Now, after two decades, two other sons of Abinadab entrusted with caring for the ark place it back on a cart, on the mountainous pass through the forest. This was a grave mistake that cost them their lives. The ark was to be carried by humans, using integrated poles (Exodus 25:12-15; Numbers 7:9). Humans had carried the ark up to Kiriath-Jearim 20 years earlier. Putting the ark on an oxcart here is an indication that the Israelites were neglecting God’s holiness and acting more like Philistines than their Israelite ancestors. The text is unsubtle in describing how the ark of the Divine Name of the LORD of hosts is riding on a cart on the side of a hill. Of course there would be danger of tipping! Thankfully, after three months of waiting, and perhaps doing some research about the proper way to move the ark, Levites carried the ark up to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:12-13), stopping after six paces for David to sacrifice animals that should have had no role in carrying the ark, God’s throne. 

As the structural diagram above indicates, the ark is brought to Jerusalem only after David is assured of its safe transport as seen in the blessing it brings to the house of Obed-edom (vv. 9-12a). Once again, joy mixes with strong negative emotion as David’s extroverted dancing offends his wife (Saul’s daughter) Michal (vv. 14-16). All ends well, however, as David places the ark in the tent (v. 17) and asks God’s blessing (vv. 17-20). The narrator’s comment that Michal had no [other] child until the day of her death  may be a subtle indication of God’s rejection of her father, Saul (v. 23).