Lectionary Reflection for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from 2 Samuel (BTCB) by Robert Barron, commenting on 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19:

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The priesthood of David is unmistakably referenced in the garb that the king dons for the parade: he “was girded with a linen ephod” (2 Sam. 6:14; Alter 1999: 227).

In Exodus, in the description of the priestly vestments to be worn by Aaron and his sons, the ephod is mentioned a number of times (Exod. 28:15, 35; 29:5). And in Leviticus we hear that Moses “brought Aaron and his sons forward, and washed them in water. He put the tunic on him, fastened the sash around him, clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod on him” (Lev. 8:6–7).

Most tellingly for our purposes, Saul, having invaded the sanctuary of Nob in search of David, ordered Doeg the Edomite to kill the priests, and we are told that “on that day he killed eighty-five who wore the linen ephod” (1 Sam. 22:18).

In putting on the garment of the priesthood, David decides to assume the role and take up the task of those fallen victims of Saul. But he is also hearkening back to Samuel, Eli, and the Aaronic priesthood as well as to the priesthood of Adam, the first one to assume the stance of adoration.

Only in light of the connection to Adam can we fully understand the energetic dance of the king before the ark of Yahweh. Before the fall, Adam walked in easy fellowship with Yahweh, thinking his thoughts, feeling his feelings, moving as he moved. He danced in unison with Yahweh. Sin is nothing but a falling out of step with God, an insistence upon dancing to one’s own rhythm.The whole of the history of salvation might be characterized as Yahweh’s attempt to restore the sacred dance, to get his human creatures to move with him. Accordingly David, dancing with energy before the ark, is humanity dancing with Yahweh, recovering the effortless harmony of Eden.

Some argue that the gestures and movements of the priests in the Jerusalem temple were intended to mimic, in a stylized way, the exuberant dance of King David. And since the ritual moves of the Byzantine and Catholic Masses trace their origins to the temple, the conclusion could be made that the processions, gestures, and bows of Christian priests today participate in the priesthood of the king who wore the ephod as he danced before the ark.


©2015 by Robert Barron. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.