Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
2 Kings (2 Samuel)
David goes with thirty thousand men to being the ark from Kiriath-jearim to Jerusalem, Sa2 6:1-5. The ox stumbling, Uzzah, who drove the cart on which the ark was placed, put forth his hand to save it from falling: the Lord was displeased, and smote him so that he died, Sa2 6:6, Sa2 6:7. David, being alarmed, carries the ark to the house of Obed-edom, Sa2 6:8-10. Here it remained three months; and God prospered Obed-edom, in whose house it was deposited, Sa2 6:11. David, hearing of this, brings the ark, with sacrifices and solemn rejoicings, to Jerusalem, Sa2 6:12-15. Michal, seeing David dance before the ark, despises him, Sa2 6:16. He offers burnt-offerings and peace offerings, and deals among all the people, men and women, a cake of bread, a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine each, Sa2 6:17-19. Michal coming to meet him, and seeing him dance extravagantly before the ark, reproaches him for his conduct: he vindicates himself, reproves her, and she dies childless, Sa2 6:20-23.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 6:1
Thirty thousand - This is supposed to have been a new levy; and thus he augmented his army by 30,000 fresh troops. The Septuagint has 70,000.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 6:2
From Baale of Judah - This is supposed to be the same city which, in Jos 15:60, is called Kirjah-baal or Kirjath-jearim; (see Ch1 13:6); or Baalah, Jos 15:9.
Whose name is called by the name of the Lord - That is, The ark is called the ark of the Lord of hosts. But this is not a literal version; the word שם shem, Name, occurs twice together; probably one of them should be read שם sham, There. There the name of the Lord of hosts was invoked, etc.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 6:3
A new cart - Every thing used in the worship of God was hallowed or set apart for that purpose: a new cart was used through respect, as that had never been applied to any profane or common purpose. But this was not sufficient, for the ark should have been carried on the shoulders of the priests; and the neglect of this ceremony was the cause of the death of Uzzah.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 6:5
On all manner of instruments made of fir wood - This place should be corrected from the parallel place, Ch1 13:8 : "All Israel played before God, with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries," etc. Instead of בכל עצי bechol atsey, "with all woods" or "trees;" the parallel place is בכל עז bechol oz. "with all their strength:" this makes a good sense, the first makes none. The Septuagint, in this place, has the verse reading; εν ισχυΐ, with might.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 6:6
Uzzah put forth his hand - In Num 4:15-20, the Levites are forbidden to touch the ark on pain of death, this penalty was inflicted upon Uzzah, and he was the first that suffered for a breach of this law.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 6:7
Smote him there for his error - Uzzah sinned through ignorance and precipitancy; he had not time to reflect, the oxen suddenly stumbled; and, fearing lest the ark should fall, he suddenly stretched out his hand to prevent it. Had he touched the ark with impunity, the populace might have lost their respect for it and its sacred service, the example of Uzzah must have filled them with fear and sacred reverence; and, as to Uzzah, no man can doubt of his eternal safety. He committed a sin unto death, but doubtless the mercy of God was extended to his soul.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 6:10
But David carried it aside - The house of Obed-edom appears to have been very near the city, which they were about to enter, but were prevented by this accident, and lodged the ark with the nearest friend.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 6:11
The Lord blessed Obed-edom - And why? Because he had the ark of the Lord in his house. Whoever entertains God's messengers, or consecrates his house to the service of God, will infallibly receive God's blessing.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 6:12
So David - brought up the ark - The Vulgate adds to this verse: And David had seven choirs, and a calf for a sacrifice. The Septuagint make a greater addition: "And he had seven choirs carrying the ark, a sacrifice, a calf, and lambs. And David played on harmonious organs before the Lord; and David was clothed with a costly tunic; and David and all the house of Israel, brought the ark of the Lord with rejoicing, and the sound of a trumpet." Nothing of this is found in any MS., nor in the Chaldee, the Syriac, nor the Arabic, nor in the parallel place, Ch1 15:25.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 6:14
And David danced before the Lord - Dancing is a religious ceremony among the Hindoos, and they consider it an act of devotion to their idols. It is evident that David considered it in the same light. What connection dancing can have with devotion I cannot tell. This I know, that unpremeditated and involuntary skipping may be the effect of sudden mental elation.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 6:16
She despised him in her heart - She did not blame him outwardly; she thought he had disgraced himself, but she kept her mind to herself.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 6:18
He blessed the people in the name of the Lord - David acted here as priest, for it was the general prerogative of the priests to bless the people, but it appears, by both David and Solomon, that it was the prerogative of the kings also.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 6:19
A cake of bread - Such as those which are baked without leaven, and are made very thin.
A good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine - The words of flesh and of wine we add; they are not in the Hebrew. The Chaldee translates one part and one portion; but all the other versions understand the Hebrew as we do.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 6:20
To bless his household - This was according to the custom of the patriarchs, who were priests in their own families. It is worthy of remark, that David is called patriarch by Stephen, Act 2:29, though living upwards of four hundred years after the termination of the patriarchal age.
How glorious was the king of Israel - This is a strong irony. From what Michal says, it is probable that David used some violent gesticulations, by means of which some parts of his body became uncovered. But it is very probable that we cannot guess all that was implied in this reproach.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 6:21
It was before the Lord, which chose me - David felt the reproach, and was strongly irritated, and seems to have spoken to Michal with sufficient asperity.
2 Kings (2 Samuel) 6:22
I will yet be more vile - The plain meaning of these words appears to be this: "I am not ashamed of humbling myself before that God who rejected thy father because of his obstinacy and pride, and chose me in his stead to rule his people; and even those maid-servants, when they come to know the motive of my conduct, shall acknowledge its propriety, and treat me with additional respect; and as for thee, thou shalt find that thy conduct is as little pleasing to God as it is to me." Then it is said, Michal had no child till the day of her death: probably David never more took her to his bed; or God, in his providence, might have subjected her to barrenness which in Palestine was considered both a misfortune and a reproach. Michal formed her judgment without reason, and meddled with that which she did not understand. We should be careful how we attribute actions, the reasons of which we cannot comprehend, to motives which may appear to us unjustifiable or absurd. Rash judgments are doubly pernicious; they hurt those who form them, and those of whom they are formed.