Volume. XX, No. 6
Sunday, 07 August 2005

From the Pastors Heart: Worship Dance Phenomena Part 3

I must begin with 2 Samuel 6:14, 16 and 1 Chronicles 15:29 in order to examine David’s dance and its possible relation to worship.

2 Samuel 6:14 “And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.”

2 Samuel 6:16 “And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.”

1 Chronicles 15:29 “And it came to pass, as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came to the city of David, that Michal the daughter of Saul looking out at a window saw king David dancing and playing: and she despised him in her heart.”

I must begin with a few observations: (1) 2 Samuel 6:14 and 16 employ the same Hebrew/Greek words for dance (used twice), while 1 Chronicles uses a different word all together (used 9 times; dance 4, skip 3, leap 1, jump 1), (2) the occasion was when David brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord, (3) David was not only dancing but also leaping (2 Samuel 6:16) and playing (1 Chronicles 15:29), (4) Dancing and other activities took place during the procession not in the tabernacle, and (5) the most significant description of David related to his dancing is that he was wearing a linen ephod. Because worship dancers relate this event to their dancing performance during worship and I said that there was no relationship between David’s dancing and tabernacle/temple worship, I need to establish my case by careful observations of Scriptural data.

First, I pay attention to the fact that Michal was able to watch David dancing from her windows. It is a clear indication that David danced in open place, not in the sanctuary, while marching toward the city of Jerusalem. Second, David later placed the ark of the covenant in the middle of tabernacle he had pitched for the ark (2 Samuel 6:17). My natural question is why the Scripture describes the tabernacle as being set up by David. Is this the same tabernacle that Moses commanded the children of Israel to build? Is this the same tabernacle that was built in Shiloh before? This question is very relevant to our studies because of two reasons: (1) If David’s tabernacle was the same as Moses’, worship dancers may have at slim ground to relate dance to tabernacle worship, and (2) David made himself as a priest on that day because he offered sacrifices in the tabernacle (which Moses built) and wore a linen ephod (known as priestly garment) on that day. Therefore, if David’s tabernacle had been the same as that of Moses, we have insurmountable problems before us. Thus, we must be able to answer to the question about the nature of David’s tabernacle. Here will we go into historical survey of the tabernacle of God. As far as I can research, there were four locations of the tabernacle of God:

1) Tabernacle in the wilderness
2) Tabernacle at Shiloh (Joshua 18:1) till the death of Eli
3) Tabernacle at Nob till the reign of Saul
4) Tabernacle at Gibeon (2 Chronicles 1:3).

We can find one simple truth: David’s tabernacle is not the same as Moses’. 2 Chronicles 1:3 says, “So Solomon, and all the congregation with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for there was the tabernacle of the congregation of God, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness.” It is very clear that the tabernacle was in Gibeon till Solomon built the temple. More over, the right next verse has even clearer indication than verse 3 that David’s tabernacle was not the same as Moses’. “But the ark of God had David brought up from Kirjathjearim to the place which David had prepared for it: for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem.” Therefore, I can safely conclude that what David did on the day of bringing the ark of the covenant was not related to tabernacle worship.

My next observation is about the linen ephod that David wore. “Ephod” in the Old Testament means two things. The one refers to an image. Judges 8:26-27 say that Gideon made an ephod: “And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels' necks. 27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.” Judges 17:5 says that Micah made an ephod and teraphim. All these references indicate that ephod was an image. The other meaning of ephod is a kind of garment. The making of this garment is prescribed in the priestly ordinances. Exodus 29:5 says, “And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod” (cf. Leviticus 8:7). The Jewish Encyclopaedia states:

All that can be gleaned from the text is the following: The ephod was held together by a girdle of similar workmanship sewed on to it (Ex. xxviii. 8); it had two shoulder-pieces, which, as the name implies, crossed the shoulders, and were apparently fastened or sewed to the ephod in front (Ex. xxviii. 7, 27). In dressing, the shoulder-pieces were joined in the back to the two ends of the ephod. Nothing is said of the length of the garment. At the point where the shoulder-pieces were joined together in the front "above the girdle," two golden rings were sewed on, to which the breast-plate was attached. (Reference)

1 Samuel 22:18 indicates that a linen ephod was set apart for the priest. “And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.” Priests are described as the ones wearing a linen ephod. It is hard to understand how David wore a linen ephod. There are two views I can think of. The one is that linen ephod in the text simply refers to a garment that has to be girded. In this case, David wore a garment without giving any significance to it. The other is that linen ephod is a priestly garment. David was from the tribe of Judah. However, we ought to remember that David took even shewbread reserved only for priests in 1 Samuel 21:4-6. As a man having received a covenant from God must have a special privilege. Though it is hard to determine the nature of this privilege, one clear conclusion from this study is that David did not dance in the setting of tabernacle/temple worship.


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Shorter Catechism Question Question 6: How many persons are there in the Godhead? There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory

Please pray for God’s healing for Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements, Dn Edwin D’Mello, Brothers Yul Sankey & Kevin Tye; Daniel Budiman & Mr David Carpenter; Sisters Myung Ki, Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Jan Volvricht, Melissa Wong, Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law, Bee Giok Khut’s mother, and all others who have been afflicted with winter illness. “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever” (Ps 107:1).

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