The Jeer of Sarcasm and the Retort of Piety.

Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, How glorious was the king of Israel today, who uncovered himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovers himself! And David said unto Michal, It was before the Lord, which chose me before your father and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord. And I will yet be more vile than thus and will be base in my own sight: and of the maidservants which you have spoken of, of them shall I be had in honor.” (2 Samuel 6:20-22)

You will remember the remarkable passage of Sacred History which I related to you this morning, how David sought on one occasion to bring up the ark of God from Kirjath-jearim to Jerusalem. But neglecting God’s Law, they put the ark upon oars, instead of carrying it upon the shoulders of the Levites. And as one mistake very soon leads to another, when the oxen stumbled Uzzah put forth his hand to steady the ark and prevent its failing and God smote him there for his error and he died. It was an awful moment. The pulse of that vast assembly beating high with solemn festivity, receives a sudden jerk. The trumpet which erstwhile sent forth its cheerful blast, with the saved melody of cornet, of psaltery and of harp–all are hushed in one instant.

Dullness and terror seize the minds of all. They separate to their homes. The ark is carried into a private house adjoining, the residence of that eminent servant of God, Obededom and there it tarried for the space of three months. David at last recovered his spirits and a second time having carefully read over God’s Law concerning the removal of the ark, he went down to the house of Obededom to carry it away. The priests this time lift up the ark upon their shoulders by means of the golden staves which passed through golden rings and so uphold the ark. Finding that they were not smitten, but that they lived and were able to carry the ark, David paused and offered seven bullocks and seven rams as a sacrifice to God.

Then, putting off his royal robe, laying aside his grown, he dressed himself like a priest, put on a linen ephod in order that he might have ease in the exercise which he meant to take and so, in the midst of all the people, like the poorest and meanest of them, he went before the ark and playing with his harp, he danced before the Lord with all his might. While he was so doing he passed by his own house and Michal his wife, looking out, thought it was a strange thing to see the king wearing so paltry a robe as a linen ephod. She had rather see him arrayed in some goodly Babylonian garment of fine linen, or she desired to see him clothed with his usual garments and she despised him in her heart.

When he came in, the first word she uttered was a taunt–“How glorious was the king of Israel today!” then she exaggerated what he did–her spleen found vent in sarcasm. She made it out that he had behaved worse than he could have done. He had simply divested himself of his robes and acted like the rest of the people in playing before God. She accused him of immodesty. This was, of course, but a pitiful satire, he having in all things acted blamelessly, though humbly, like the rest of the people.

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