To see what there was about King David that made Israel adore him like no other king it ever had, as good a place to look as any is the account of how he captured Jerusalem and brought in the ark.

Jerusalem was a major plum for the new young king, a hill town considered so untakeable that the inhabitants had a saying to the effect that a blind man and a cripple could hold it against the U.S. Marines (2 Samuel 5:6). Just to remind people who it was that had nevertheless finally taken it, David's first move was to change its name to the City of David. His second move was a brilliant maneuver for giving his victory the stamp of divine approval by trotting out that holy box of acacia wood overlaid with gold that was known as the ark and contained who knows what but was as close as Israel ever officially got to a representation in space of their God, who dwelled in eternity. David had the ark loaded onto a custom-built cart and made a regular circus parade of it, complete with horns, harps, cymbals, and psalteries, not to mention himself high-stepping out front like the mayor of Dublin on Saint Patrick's Day. When they finally made it into town, he set up a big tent to keep out the weather, had refreshments passed around on the house, and, just so nobody would forget who was picking up the tab, did the lion's share of the praying himself and personally took up the collection afterward.

So far it was none of it anything a good public-relations department couldn't have dreamed up for him, but the next thing was something else again. He stripped down to his skivvies, and then with everybody looking on, including his wifea high-class girl named Michal, who gave his administration tone as the late King Saul's daughterhe did a dance. Maybe it started out as just another Madison Avenue ploy, but not for long.

With trumpets blaring and drums beating, it was Camelot all over again, and for once that royal young redhead didn't have to talk up the bright future and the high hopes, because he was himself the future at its brightest and there were no hopes higher than the ones his people had in him. And for once he didn't have to drag God in for politics' sake either, because it was obvious to everybody that this time God was there on his own. How they cut loose together, David and Yahweh, whirling around before the ark in such a passion that they caught fire from each other and blazed up in a single flame of such magnificence that not even the dressing-down David got from Michal afterward could dim the glory of it.

He had feet of clay like the rest of us, if not more sohe was self-serving and deceitful, lustful and vainbut on the basis of that dance alone, you can see why it was David more than anybody else that Israel lost its heart to and why, when Jesus of Nazareth came riding into Jerusalem on his flea-bitten mule a thousand years later, it was as the Son of David that they hailed him.

2 Samuel 5-6


~originally published in Peculiar Treasures and later in Beyond Words


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