Did David Dance Before the Lord Naked?
I’ve been asked about this subject many times. So I rather put something into writing that may be better understood.
I don’t know where the idea arrived that David danced naked before the Lord. But that is one of the very common statements thrown at believers to excuse all kinds of behavior.
The only place I found even a mention that might could refer to undress was in Thomas Nelson’s Bible Dictionary, but that, to my experience, is a poor resource. It implies that all David wore was the equivalent of a loin cloth. But just a simple reading of Scripture will show that the “ephod” was much more than a loin cloth.
“Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing [only] a linen ephod [loincloth, kilt, or apron]” (2 Samuel 6:14). Whatever garment David was wearing, it apparently scandalized Michal, who accused him of lewd, base behavior-of “uncovering himself in the eyes of the maids” (2 Samuel 6:20). (from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Just because a jealous individual says that someone is doing wrong does not make it so. From the punishment Michal received, it is obvious that she was the one in the wrong.
It is obvious from the Bible just exactly what David wore.
2 Samuel 6:14 (ESV) And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod.
1 Chronicles 15:27 (ESV) David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as also were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and the singers and Chenaniah the leader of the music of the singers. And David wore a linen ephod.
An ephod was a priestly garment worn over a simple robe; there was nothing immodest about it. David just had simple (humble) clothing, not his kingly garb that would have designated him as above the others, he was dressed as the rest of Levites bearing the ark. David was humbled before his Lord and the ark.
David danced humbly before the Lord. Not in underwear, but in the simple ephod that everyone serving the Lord would wear. This was a humble person’s attire, not sinful or shameful. Michal accused David of dancing like a common man and beneath his station in life, no robe or crown to set him off as more important than others. An ephod was worn by the most simple servants of the Lord:
1 Samuel 2:18 Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy clothed with a linen ephod. ESV
Wearing a linen ephod was symbolic of serving before the Lord, it was the attire of the priests. David was serving just as if he was a priest.
1 Sam 2:18 But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. KJV
1 Chron 15:27 David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as also were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and the singers and Chenaniah the leader of the music of the singers. And David wore a linen ephod. ESV
1 Samuel 22:18 Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn and strike the priests.” And Doeg the Edomite turned and struck down the priests, and he killed on that day eighty-five persons who wore the linen ephod. ESV
I personally believe that the emphasis of 2 Samuel 6:14 is that David was “dancing with all his might before the Lord”. I’ll have to tell you about the “dancing” part on another blog, but for now I want to encourage you to worship the Lord with all your might, in whatever you do… “in word or in action”.