Why does God kill a man for touching a wooden box?
The ark of God was not just a random wooden box. It was the place of mercy. It was where God met with his people and forgave their sins. God had already given detailed instructions for the priests to carry the ark on poles and a warning that anyone who touched the holy things would die (Numbers 7:9 and 4:15). David is responsible for bringing the ark to Jerusalem and he ignores these instructions; he allows the ark to be placed on a cart pulled by oxen.
God is holy and he keeps his word. Yet this story actually shows the mercy of God. David is given a second chance. This time he follows God’s instructions and the parade into Jerusalem is full of gratitude for God’s mercy.
Awkward question 2
Why did David dance ‘half-naked’?
‘Half-naked’ is the term that Michal uses to describe what David was wearing. But that is just from her perspective, because she expects a king to be dressed like a king, with royal robes. The parallel passage (1 Chronicles 15:27) states that David is wearing a robe of fine linen and a linen ephod. He is not literally half-naked; in fact he is dressed as a priest. His motivation is gratitude. He wants to offer sacrifices to thank God for his mercy. God has brought him from the sheep fields to be king in the new capital city. Even more importantly, the ark, the place of mercy, is returning to the centre of the land of Israel. David has a lot to celebrate and he is humble and grateful.
Awkward question 3
Why are we told that Michal had no children?
Michal is more concerned with appearances than thanking God for his mercy. Although she has previously saved David’s life by helping him to escape, now she despises David, so it is no surprise that she does not have children with him. We will soon see that from David a line of kings will come which will be an everlasting kingdom. Tragically, Michal will not be an ancestor of kings.
What can we learn from this chapter?
Are we grateful for God’s mercy or more concerned with outward appearances?