[XG4U 2018-10-01] Pride & Repentance

Pride & Repentance

We're dealing with two passages of 2 Samuel.

One was when Uzzah died when he touched the Ark,

    When they came to Nacon’s threshing floor, Uzzah reached out to the ark of God and took hold of it because the oxen had stumbled. Then the Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and God struck him dead on the spot for his irreverence, and he died there next to the ark of God.
    2 Samuel 6: 6-7 (HCSB)

This was far less about Uzzah than about David. He broke the rules on how to transport the Ark. It wasn't to be carried by cart or oxen. A consideration is that if nothing happened after a non-Levite (not that they were allowed to touch it either but it was their duty to transport it) touched the Ark, the people would lose respect. As well, for Uzzah, it was his death but as far as can be seen it did not affect his salvation. So there were two infractions, one being the disrespectful mode of transit and the other being touched as opposed to it being properly carried on staves safely away from touch.

...and the second when Michal was barren;

    David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ maids, as any vulgar fellow might shamelessly uncover himself!” David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me in place of your father and all his household, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord, that I have danced before the Lord. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in my own eyes; but by the maids of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.” And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.
    2 Samuel 6:20-23 (NRSV)

The latter issue with Michal/Michel (depending on translation) is a little harder to connect at first. We don't know for sure the reason why she was barren. It isn't mentioned that God made her barren because of her words. The probable purpose of the passage is to show the distinct difference between the humble house of David and the prideful house of Saul where Michal was from. The barren connection could be from God, from David no longer taking her to his bed, Michal being too snooty to bed David or something else entirely. We simply don't know.

The first passage was more about the overall neglect of the ark and the second passage was something we just don't know however it's mentioned to speak about humility versus pride. If one sees the latter as a response to the former, perhaps an image is clear of David making a grave error and then choosing humility to God in repentance.

To look at a bigger picture, read the whole chapter. Notice how David is angry that his actions caused the death of Uzzah in such a way and how it humbles him so much he wavers in his ability to even care for the Ark. When he sees how the Lord blesses Obed-edom who’s house was in interim holding the Ark, David took a new stride with it and decided to push aside his pride and arrogance.

David sins and the ramification was Uzzah’s death which led to David’s shock not only at the consequence of his behaviour but also at his own behaviour itself that led to the consequence. He then repents, humbles himself and is blessed. To highlight this at the end of the passage, Michal sees David's vulnerability and humility responding to it with a venomous verbal attack. David's response and our lesson is that humility before God and others is more desirable than being prideful.



Kersus's picture

2 valid points have been brought to my attention and are worth noting here. Perhaps I'll include them in a later iteration.

1. From the Jewish point of view, Michal being barren means the line of David leads to the Messiah with no connection to Saul.

2. The OT laws are there to guide a nation (one death may save a nation). In the NT, the individual being guided by the spirit is highlighted.

I welcome debate on these items :)

Kersus's picture

I've done a little more research, especially in what Joyce Baldwin has to say on the subject. Below are my words though, not hers.

It's always helpful to have context. With David and Michal it helps to go back and see how their relationship developed and came to this point. In her eyes, a warrior won her and she wanted him worshiped as a conquering hero (likely the glory for her that goes along with it). They had been alienated from each other and at this particular moment of great joy and forgiveness she chooses to lash out at her husband's humility and ruined a nice opportunity for reconciliation.

One could say that like her father, she turned away from Yahweh. The final statement of being barren may well mean she was never willing to be with a man who would deign to be humble when he could be her vision of a warrior-king thus Saul's line ending with the very pride that cost him a kingdom.