2 Samuel 6 – Do You Dance?
David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.2 Samuel 6:14-15
Now and then in Scripture we see people dancing. Miriam and other women, for instance, grab their tambourines and rejoice after Pharaoh and his army are destroyed. After David kills Goliath and the Israelite men rout their enemies, women come out to meet the soldiers, dancing and singing: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7).
There are different types of dances. The Hebrew word used in Exodus and Samuel seems to indicate a ring or circle dance. These aren’t waltzes or salsas – they’re victory dances. Women in particular would dance them as they celebrated the triumphs of their men and their God.
Perhaps you can see why King David in 2 Samuel 6 dances before the ark of the Lord – and also why his wife Michal mocks him. Just as the women danced before him, David now dances before the Lord. David’s making it crystal clear that God is the source of all his success. God is the Great King in the land. The battle and the victory belong to Him.
Michal, however, can’t fathom David doffing his royal robes and whirling about. “Real men don’t dance like this” she thinks, “Certainly not the king!”
Your teenager then, who wants to go out to that nightclub, would have a hard time proving his or her point from this passage. David isn’t just having fun. He’s humbling himself in order to boast in the Lord and give all glory to Him.
This scene of 2 Samuel 6 is an Old Testament shadow of the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. Just as the ark of the Lord goes up to Jerusalem, the royal city, so Christ has gone up to heaven in the triumph of victory.
And it’s a time for dancing! In fact, in Psalm 24, a song for this very occasion, even the might of heaven is urged to lift up its head before the coming King of Glory. In this Psalm, David calls out to the “everlasting gates.” It’s likely he has more than the earthly Jerusalem in view. He’s prophesying about a greater ascension, a heavenly one, where angels too must hail the Great King.
Do we see that at the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ? Only partly. There are clouds, divine chariots that tell us our Saviour is no mere earthly ruler. We see two angels, just like at the resurrection of Christ. The disciples, Luke tells us, return to Jerusalem with great joy. They know Christ has not simply left them, but ascended to his throne.
But yet something seems missing, doesn’t it? Where is the dancing? Where is the great parade? Where is heaven’s might, the cherubim and seraphim? We do know that as Christ ascended the heavens rejoiced (Revelation 12:12). And so we sing in Hymn 31,
The heav’ns with joy received their Lord
By saints, by angel hosts adored.
But 2 Samuel 6 and Psalm 24 seem to call for more.
Take a look at what we learn in Scripture about the return of our Saviour. The angels tell us that He will return in the same way as He went up. On that day when Christ descends, the full glory of his ascension will be manifest. All of creation will hail the King Jesus. His kingdom will have fully come.
Paul tells us that the Lord Jesus will come with a multitude of his holy ones (1 Thessalonians 3:13). Picture a king and his commanders, in the flush of victory, in royal procession. And finally, like latecomers, the people of God will be caught up with Christ in the clouds (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
What will we be doing in the clouds? Let me suggest that it’ll be the equivalent of dancing before our Lord! We will meet the departed saints who are already reigning with Christ. We will all be transformed in glory. And will we dance before Him, as He makes his way to the great white throne of Revelation 20:11. It will be a round dance, the dance of women, the dance of David. A dance that makes it clear Christ was our strength, our victory, our boast! It will be our joy – together with David! – to humble ourselves and bring glory to our ascended Saviour, not to us.
“Hence we will honour and adore Thee
And cast in gratitude before Thee
The crowns by grace bestowed on us.”
Do you dance? One day we will, like we never have done before!