No, King David Never Danced Naked Before The Lord

It shouldn’t be surprising that preachers tend to sensationalize certain Bible verses. But sometimes they go just a bit too far. The perfect example is that millions of people still believe that King David danced naked, or in his under-roos, when they brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem.

TLDR Video Summary

David Dancing Before The Lord Video Thumb

I’ve ran into many people both online and in real life that are so sure about David dancing naked that they are willing to argue over the issue. I have heard preachers talk many times about how undignified David was by dancing either naked or in his skivvies……usually after an arousing rendition of the song “Undignified”. However, according the scriptures, King David most certainly did not dance naked.

The fact of the matter is that the author of 2 Samuel says that he was clothed in an ephod.

Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. (2 Samuel 6:14-15)

In addition to the verse in 2 Samuel, the writer of 1 Chronicles also points out that David was wearing the standard Levite linen as well as an ephod, just like the ones described in Leviticus.

Now David was clothed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as were the musicians, and Kenaniah, who was in charge of the singing of the choirs. David also wore a linen ephod. (1 Chronicles 15:27)

So, why do people think he danced naked or mostly unclothed? The reason is because just a few verses later, in 2 Samuel (verse not included in Chronicles), it shows David’s wife criticizing his behavior. The NIV and other modern translations seem to struggle on an agreed translation and interpretation of the text. Here are a few different translations.

When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would! (2 Samuel 6:20 NIV)

But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!”(2 Samuel 6:20 NASB)

When David returned home to bless his own family, Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out to meet him. She said in disgust, “How distinguished the king of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!”(2 Samuel 6:20 NLT)

From these English passages we seem to get a different understanding of how David was clothed. The story in both Samuel and Chronicles state that he wore a linen ephod. So, how was David exposing himself if he was wearing a linen ephod?

The Garments

Both 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles state that David was wearing at least some form of linen. In 2 Samuel it says linen ephod. In 1 Chronicles it says he wore a linen robe just like the levites. The difficult part in understanding the clothing description is that usually the levitical attire was a linen robe under an ephod vestment; they were two separate pieces of clothing. A linen in ancient Israel was just a fine threaded garment that went between the body and some outer garment. It was white for priests since white symbolized purity. The priestly linen was a sacred piece of clothing since it was dedicated for use in the temple/tabernacle.

This is how Aaron is to enter the Most Holy Place: He must first bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on. (Leviticus 17:3-4)

An ephod was an outer garment that was decorated and served as a utility device for priests. It could hold tools or utensils for the job. Sometimes they were purely decorative pieces, which was probably the case for King David. Exodus 28 describes how the ephod should be created.

You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. You shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to The Ephod Descriptionconsecrate him, that he may minister as priest to Me. These are the garments which they shall make: a breast piece and an ephod and a robe and a tunic of checkered work, a turban and a sash, and they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons, that he may minister as priest to Me. (Exodus 28:2-4)

 “They shall also make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen, the work of the skillful workman. It shall have two shoulder pieces joined to its two ends, that it may be joined. The skillfully woven band, which is on it, shall be like its workmanship, of the same material: of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen. You shall take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, 10 six of their names on the one stone and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, according to their birth. 11 As a jeweler engraves a signet, you shall engrave the two stones according to the names of the sons of Israel; you shall set them in filigree settings of gold. 12 You shall put the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of memorial for the sons of Israel, and Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for a memorial. 13 You shall make filigree settings of gold, 14 and two chains of pure gold; you shall make them of twisted cordage work, and you shall put the corded chains on the filigree settings(Exodus 28:6-14)


Clarification from the Chronicler

The author of 1 Chronicles points out that David was wearing a linen, just like the Levites. It’s not an accident that this is mentioned in Chronicles but not 2 Samuel.

Now David was clothed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites (1 Chronicles 15:27)

He was wearing the standard linen with the ephod as all the Levites were. They were doing so because they were making sacrifices to God along the way back to Jerusalem.

And so it was, that when the bearers of the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. (2 Samuel 6:13)

It should not surprise the avid Bible reader that the Chronicler added to the story told in 2 Samuel. Chronicles was written a few hundred years after 2 Samuel and it’s very common for the Chronicler to address difficult passages from Samuel or Kings by changing the working or adding remarks for clarification. In this case, the Chronicler addresses the issue of David’s “linen ephod”, which we know were two different pieces of clothing; a linen and an ephod. The correction made was to refer to David’s attire generically as a robe of fine linen.  If he was wearing only a linen robe, like the priest’s robes, then that would be strange. However, it made sense to the Chronicler. It is also possible that the Chronicler was trying to say that David had a linen under his ephod, just like the priests did. This correction would make sense because 2 Samuel makes it sound like he was only wearing an ephod with nothing under it.

However, we know from other Bible verses in Samuel that the phrase “linen ephod” was a generic expression not referring to someone half-dressed.

But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. (2 Samuel 2:18)

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. (1 Samuel 22:18)

It seems more likely that David had on a linen and an ephod.

Michal’s Rebuke

GLH usage in the Old Testament

But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!”(2 Samuel 6:20 NASB)

2 Samuel also records that Michal was very upset at David for being “uncovered.” The most basic sense of the accusation (נִגְלָה, root = GLH) is being uncovered.

This word is used in various ways throughout the Old Testament to mean different things. About 30% of the time it is translated as it’s most basic root meaning of a state of being uncovered (noun format). The next most common usage is as a verb meaning to “exile” or “remove” which is what happened to the Israelites multiple times. The third most common form is also a verb and takes on the meaning of  something “revealed” or being “revealing.” These three translations make up the bulk of the biblical usage for this word. Since the word was used by Michal in it’s verbal form and in a simple stem (Nifal), it should be translated without any emphasis, like a piel stem would require. I believe the translation of “How he was glorious, the King of Israel he was uncovered today in front of the servant girls…… ” is the best translation. However, I think perhaps there was some sarcasm in her tone, which is why the writer of Samuel ended her story a few verses later by stating that she bore no children.

To be sure, though, being in a state that is uncovered or revealing is not the same as being naked. It’s not even the same as being in your underwear. But what dis she mean by “uncovered”? I believe that Michal’s anger was partially due to his outfit not being fit for a king. A king would be in a fine robe and other kingly garments. A king could be easily identified by his garments. Often, a kings robe would have a long train behind it (like a wedding dress) which was made up of ornate decoration and symbolic meanings. However, such a robe was for indoor use only and some kings only wore the ornate robes while in the royal court. Most kings had a standard public robe which would be more practical. Nevertheless, the book of Esther makes mention of royal clothing from the Persian era.

And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’” (Esther 6:7-9)

Assyrian Warriors
2 Assyrian Warriors

It seems most likely that Michal’s outrage was over David’s lack of kingly attire. He was leading a procession into the city yet he was dressed like a Levite, not a king. However, there is one more issue that needs addressed. While rebuking David, Michal notes that David “uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!“. She seems to also be upset that whatever he did, he did it in front of the maid servants and was acting like a fool. The ancient world used dancing in many processions and even sacred rituals. Dancing was common enough that professional dancers exist. They even had their own types of clothing which allowed them to move more freely. Dancers were also entertainers and would show just a bit more skin. In 2 Samuel is almost seems like Michal is upset that David was like one of the dancers who wore revealing clothes or made his clothes to be more revealing.

It was common in the ancient world for a man to gird himself for running, battles, or dancing. If no proper attire was worn for the event then a person would pull up their robe and tuck it into their belt. This is where the phrase “gird your loins” comes from. When this is done, the robe is shortened and the legs are revealed. This was very common in the ancient near east. One was expected to be dressed for the occasion. David could have worn any number of outfits to the ark procession. He could have worn his royal robes. He could have worn his military regalia. He could have worn a king’s public robe. He chose to wear a Levitical robe and then he likely girded it so he could dance. Certainly, this act would have been undignified in multiple ways. First, he wasn’t dressed as the king. Second, he was dancing like a fool. Third, he probably girded the linen and ephod which was not a priestly thing to do. On every level he was undignified.

But he still wasn’t naked or in his underwear.

Conclusion & Reasoning

I think we can know for sure that David had on an ephod and/or a linen. I also believe the Chronicler was correct in addressing the passage by stating that he also had on his white linen underneath the ephod, just like all the other Levites. The author of Samuel did not mention the linen because it’s assumed. Ephods were always worn with a linen. But if David was wearing both a linen and an ephod, why the outrage by Michal?

I think her anger was multi-faceted. David behaved in a most undignified manner. He was not dressed as a king. He was dancing like one of the entertainers, and he likely had some leg showing. I also think her difficult relationship as the queen of such a man was another factor. I think the public speaker John Clayton made a great point on this matter.

To understand the situation, one needs to go back and learn about Michal. This woman was Saul’s youngest daughter (1 Samuel 14:49) and was given to David by Saul for David’s defeat of the Philistines. When David was in exile, she was given to Phaltiel (1 Samuel 25:44), and then bargained back to David from Abner as part of a political move to strengthen his claim to the throne. This woman was part of the political establishment, and had always lived in a politically correct environment. When she sees her husband take off his kingly garments and crown, and become like everyone else, and especially when she sees David participate in an undignified celebration she is incensed. David’s lack of political correctness is so bad that the Bible says Michal “despised David in her heart” (2 Samuel 6:16). In verse 22 of this chapter, David responds to Michal by saying to her that the servants would hold him in special honor because of his conduct. (“Dancing Naked or Understanding Badly”, by John Clayton)

David’s tense relationship with Michal is sensed in his response to Michal, where it can be seen that there was some form of sarcasm and ridicule. “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel.

I think the real issue was that David degraded himself by not wearing the proper kingly vestments. Why else would she sarcastically make fun of David’s lack of “glory” (כָּבוֹד) when accusing him. This was a word that would have only been appropriate when speaking of David as a king. Thus, his lack of kingly honor was what bothered her. What a fool he was for setting himself among the servants, rather than acting like the king he was. What a horror to do so on one of the most important days of his life, when the Ark of the Covenant is returned to Jerusalem.


48 thoughts on “No, King David Never Danced Naked Before The Lord”

  1. i think by dancing he revealed some more skin not by purpose, but just simply moving around clothes move around a bit. She despised him for dancing for the lord; So she exaggerated as alot people do to belittle others

  2. While studying the Bible this morning, I noticed that David was not dancing naked. I have heard preachers teach that he was. So as often as I do, I wanted to make sure I was reading the passage correctly. My research had began. After understanding what a linen Ephod was, it became clear that David was clothed. Thank you for making my research easier.

    I can’t wait to teach my adult class Sunday morning. I am sure that there will be a discussion, since the Pastor is in my class. He is always willing to learn.

    • Thanks for reading! I am sad to say that I also have heard pastors claiming David was either naked or in his under wear. I am always disappointed when pastors don’t do proper research since it’s literally part of their job description.

      • Once David saw how the house of Obed-edom was being blessed by the presence of the Ark in his home, David made plans to bring it into the city of David. And this time, Unlike his first attempt, David brought the Ark in By God’s Plan and with gladness!

        Look closely in this passage and you will see a picture celebrating the Coming Messiah.
        Note when they “had gone SIX paces”, David SACRIFICED oxen and fatlings. All the while David was dressed like a servant of the Lord, like a LEVITE (1 Chronicles 15:27), with linen ephod. Dressed as one of PRIESTly heritage, yet David belonged to the LION tribe of JUDAH.

        After the sacrifice was made, he danced with joy, with abandon, with all his might! David danced with such exuberance, as a servant to the Lord, that he had surely exposed himself to all who could see, exposed what was in his heart – his great love for the LORD. David danced the dance of every true believer, the freedom of no secrets, no guilt, no shame. David’s exposure was of his person, just who he was, and of His Person, not of any flesh as some misinterpret. And that exposure was the offense to his wife Michael (2 Samuel 6:16, 20). After all, David was a man after God’s own heart! (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22) Chasing after God’s heart!

        David’s name means Beloved
        Six = satan’s influence over man
        Seven ( is here, but not directly stated) = Complete and Perfection

        Six paces, a picture of man’s fallen state, then a Sacrifice. The Seventh step was when the dancing started! Amen. Just as with David here, let there be no compromise in the believer’s reverence for Him!

        Jesus, the Lion of Judah, forever our Priest, forever interceding for the believer, has made the ultimate sacrifice – Himself – for all to see! It is done! Finished! (John 19:30) Complete & Perfect! Redemption for sin and sweet aroma to the LORD. Relationship restored. God’s Beloved Son. Full exposure on His part. Full exposure on the part of believers. A Savior who sings over us! (Zephaniah 3:17) Let the Wedding Dancing begin!! ❤

        Sidenote: Think of David’s brother Eliab’s angry offense when David arrived on the scene of the no-so-much-a-battle of the Israelites against Philistines (1 Samuel 17:28) led by Goliath in the valley of Elah. Israel should have been fighting, but they, God’s people, were too scared. David arrived and all he thought of was his God’s honor, and everyone knew it when David spoke and when he fought. David exposed who he was, he couldn’t hide it! And exposing himself, David also exposed just Who the God of Israel was!

      • Wait a minute…
        I just came across this site because it had some indications that the writer had sincere aims to translate the Scriptures correctly, or at least make an honest attempt to try to understand the text without too much traditional baggage.
        I’ve known for some time that the book of Job is strange, and that the translation is even stranger (not consistent) but the words used are also rare and have difficult grammar – so I understand it is a serious challenge.
        Job 2:9 should be simple and I am surprised that you somehow are going along the “traditional” thinking on this verse. Sorry if I misunderstood though.
        Job 2:9 in Hebrew, as we know it;

        How does anyone get בּרך to something negative? It’s a well used word in the Scripture and I don’t understand how the “accepted” translation for “curse” has been passed around without anyone saying anything. She has one sentence, and people take the word to be the opposite for what it is usually translated to, as to say, she meant something else – well how do you know? Is her personality described that we have the rights to incline that she was in a certain way, or that she meant something else? My goodness. Why don’t we have consistent and faithful people who just wants the truth to be told? Such tragic.

  3. Justin, you remind me of Paul. Wise and not afraid to speak the truth even if it may offend others at first. Yet in the end it’s better we become offended first by our errors and be left wise in truth. Lest we carry on with our errors and end up unintentionally leading others astray also. Thank you Justin may the Lord bless you and keep you in Him. As for Lindsey God bless you and keep you also. As I’m sure you meant no offense and like you if I thought and believed my interpretation was true. I would’ve probably tried to also raise the matter. Yet like Lindsey I’ve made errors too and I’ve learned to not take things too personally and instead focused on the truth even if it means being wrong at times. Thank you both for the help.

  4. I believe that Michal was correct when she felt disdain towards David. He may have been dancing with all of his heart but that didn’t make it right. Remember that the Israelites were constantly warned about idol worship of the surrounding nations- specifically warned about temple prostitution and child sacrifice. The temple prostitutes would have danced and exposed themselves. Male temple prostitutes who danced were known as dogs- which Jesus references in the gospels. Michal saw David’s dancing as unholy. As the king David should have known better than to act in any way that would lead others to follow pagan practices- but of course we know that David loves women and he liked the attention that day. So as the wife Michael speaks up- and of course she is demonized. However we should all recognize that David had his issues- he had a man murdered and committed adultery with his wife. Solomon was no better when it came to respecting women. Maybe David should have listened to Michal- she knew his sexual lust better than anyone and had a right to feel disdain when David danced. We have the same problem in Christianity today-men won’t listen to their wives.

    • I see what you’re saying but I don’t know if I would connect Michal’s disdain with idol worship or dancing. We know that David and Michal did have at least one household idol (1 Sam 19:13) but it’s hard to day if it was from David or Michal. Either way, dancing was not necessarily a pagan practice. In fact, a number of times in the OT it’s referenced and never was it considered evil or pagan.

      Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. (Exodus 15:20)

      You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness (Psalm 30:11)

      When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. Now she was his one and only child (Judges 11:34)

      “Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! Again you will take up your tambourines, And go forth to the dances of the merrymakers.” (Jeremiah 31:4)

      Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. (Psalm 150:4)

      Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre. (Psalm 149:3)

      David was a highly problematic character but I do not believe dancing was one of those problems.

    • Like many, Gabe appears to have a big feminist chip on his/her shoulder…

      “but of course we know that David loves women and he liked the attention that day. So as the wife Michael (sic) speaks up- and of course she is demonized. Solomon was no better when it came to respecting women.Maybe David should have listened to Michal- she knew his sexual lust better than anyone and had a right to feel disdain when David danced. We have the same problem in Christianity today-men won’t listen to their wives.”


      I’m not sure that God would agree that the problem in Christianity today is that men won’t listen to their wives.

      And as for David’s dancing, nowhere does the text state that it was disgraceful. The fact that his wife was angry about it does not mean David sinned. And as for his not “respecting women”, if anything, the converse is true here: Michal’s words to her husband were anything but respectful. She could have raised the matter with him in a civil tone, but instead spoke to him in a mocking, sardonic manner. The text gives the reader the impression that Michal, herself a king’s daughter, was spoiled and haughty, and that she looked down her nose at the lowly women before whom David danced.

      The bottom line is that had David truly committed a disgraceful act in dancing before the Lord in an ephod, then God would have certainly rebuked him for it. When David did wrong, God soon let him know about it. There is no suggestion anywhere that his dance was shameful in the eyes of God.

      Neither does one see God berating Solomon for not “respecting women”. In fact, Solomon’s women themselves were the problem: Scripture says very plainly that they turned Solomon’s heart away from God. It is clear that Solomon’s problem was that he listened to his wives!

      So Gabe, do yourself a favour and take off those feminist glasses.

      They’re blinding you.

  5. An excellent read. This issue came up last night at a Bible study, and one person was convinced David was dancing around in a loin cloth after the fashion of Johnny Weissmuller. People’s lack of biblical information is appalling. BTW, you are apt in your observation that many unflattering details about David are left out of Chronicles. The general history of the kingdom is give in Samuel and Kings; the priestly perspective is given in Chronicles. That is why David’s adultery with Bathsheba is omitted in Chronicles altogether- his sin was covered and forgiven.

    • Thanks for the read on this. I can’t tell you how many times I heard that David danced in his underwear. People just don’t look things up. They trust that what the pastor says is correct. Like the whole eye of the needle being an entrance in the Jerusalem wall. Not remotely true lol

  6. Hey Justin I have to disagree with you on her having an idol. I use the kjv and it says: And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats’ hair for his holster, and covered it with a cloth.
    1 Samuel 19:13 this is where it is mentioned first and then again in 19:16. In verse 17 Saul is mad that Michal used it to deceive him. I think she made a fake David to deceive Saul so David would have time to escape. (17-18)

    • Lindsey,

      About Mical tricking Saul you’re right. She made an idol to look like David.

      In 1611 readers would have known “image” to refer to an idol. This is why the KJV should always be updated. The Hebrew text reads idol as well. In most parts of the OT the KJV translators use the phrase “graven image” which refers to a carved idol.

      If you look at how the word is used in the rest of the OT it becomes clear that even the KJV translators and readers understood this object to be an idol. My personal suggestion is to read a newer translation that is more accurate and current.

      But either way, read these passages in the KJV and tell me that this word is not referencing idols.

      Genesis 31:19, 34, 35
      Judges 17:5
      Judges 18:14, 17, 18, 20
      1 Samuel 15:23
      2 Kings 23:24
      Ezekiel 21:21
      Hosea 3:4
      Zechariah 10:2

      • Hey Justin, I have wholeheartedly searched the scriptures you have given and want to give scripture, definitions, and Hebrew translations to show that you are mixing apples and oranges with the word (image) maybe this is because of your translation. First off, I am not doing this to be spiteful or proud. I am doing this because I love God and want to show a brother in Christ. Okay, first I want to give you from Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary the definition(s) for IMAGE: (1) eikon denotes “an image”; the word involves the two ideas of representation and manifestation. Of the descendants of Adam as bearing his image, 1 Cor. 15:49, each a representation derived from the prototype.(a) of man as he was created as being a visible representation of God, 1 Cor. 11:7, a being corresponding to the original. Hew, okay I know. One more definition and that will be all for definitions I promise. IMAGE: (2) charakter denotes, firstly, “a tool for graving””to cut into, to engross”. Now with that being defined I want to go through your list of scriptures you gave and show you (eikon) image and (charakter) image and point out that on some of your scriptures you gave image or images is not even used so those don’t even apply. Gen.31:19- charakter- This situation is different then the one in 1 Sam. 19:13 as scripture shows these were images as in idols that Rachel stole from her father.(See vs. 30)(his gods) these were idols. The same applies to vs.34 and vs.35. Judges 17:5- says gods dose not say image. Judges 18:17- says graven image and molten image these are explained by graven and molten. These are idols. Judges 18:18-says carved image and molten image. Judges 18:20- says graven image. I think you see the beauty of the KJV in these as they give you a description of type of image. (These are all charakter image.) 1Sam.15:23- no mention of image. Scripture says rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. This is in reference to Saul’s heart in disobeying God. 2 Kings 23:24- (images) and idols is in this scripture. Josiah put away (got rid of) them when he was going through Jerusalem and Judah. These are charakter. Ezekiel 21:21- scripture says: he (meaning King of Babylon) was using divination, he consulted with images (healers) idolatry. Zech. 10:2 -says idols not image in the KJV. This is charakter image in all of these yes. However, Hosea 3:4- says image in this verse it means a body a phrophet that is why it lists after it ephod, teraphim. This is eikon image meaning. The transgressions are in vs. 2 if you keep reading. (God is saying He is going to take it all away). This (image) is someone stationed. Now, I would ask you took look into some verses that show eikon image better since the ones you listed except for one do not. I hope when you read these scriptures you see when the word image is used it surely dose not mean (charakter image). Gen. 1:26 Romans 8:29 2 Cor. 3:18. These are eikon( image) that Michal made in the likeness of David an image in the bed to trick her dad long enough for David to escape. 1 Sam. 19:15-16 – shows that the messengers where going to see David how would they have done that with an Idol? Lastly, please allow me to tell you how saddened I am to hear you say you think that the KJV should constantly be updated. That is so wrong. It is a beautiful and deep translation and I believe the only true translation. We do not need man to fix or update God’s word we just need it in our language and I believe that is what God has done in the KJV. Men need to let God’s word change us; not men change God’s word. I pray you will read my post and pray about everything I have shared with you.

        • Lindsey,

          Thanks for taking the time for a thoughtful response. I will try to respond to your points in the most organized manner I can.

          1. Definition of IMAGE. It looks to me like you looked up the word image in a Greek dictionary…. or Vine’s New Testament Word Pictures. Either way, 1 Samuel is written in Hebrew, not Greek, and the underlying word is “תּרפים” (terâphı̂ym) which is based on the root word “רָפָא” (rapha) which means “to heal”.

          Whenever doing a word study in the Bible you have to start with the original language and work forward, not the other way.

          2. The application of English translations for the HEBREW word, terâphı̂ym, varies because Hebrew is a contextual language. Almost all words in Hebrew start with a 3-letter root that gets conjugated to mean many things. Thus, terâphı̂ym is a masculine plural noun based on the verb root rapha.

          3. terâphı̂ym does have an equivalent Greek word but it’s not eikon or charakter. In the Septuagint (if you don’t know what that is, it’s a translation from Hebrew to Greek, done in the 2nd century BCE), terâphı̂ym is translated into the Greek word κενοτάφια, which is not at all related to the words you were suggesting.

          Moreover, the context of the passage dictates that whatever Mical used to fool Saul, it was something that was already made. She did not have time to go carving a wooden replica. She took an already existing wooden carving and dressed it up. The Hebrew and English texts are clear that she took an existing idol and used that. In your suggestion that image means a replica of David, why would she have a life sized replica of her husband lying around? And if she had one of those when why would she need to dress it up?

          4. About the KJV…. the interpretation of this passage is less of a KJV issue and more of an issue of modern English readers not understanding Old English or Middle English. The 1611 KJV was written in Middle English and was updated multiple times into the 1700s. The version you read today is not original to the 1611. The original translators even said themselves that their translation was not perfect and that updates needed to be made. It’s in the translators preface to the 1611 version.

          Lastly, no translation is perfect. The KJV is full of flaws as well as the few underlying manuscripts they had in 1611 to translate from. Since 1611 we have discovered thousands of manuscripts and our lexicons are much informed. Even the English we speak today is different than the English of the KJV…. Which is ironic since the whole reason the KJV was created was to make the Bible accessible to modern English speakers of that time. The translators are rolling over in their graves right now at the suggestion that all English speakers should have to learn 1611 English just to read the Bible. It goes against the whole reason they did the KJV translation.

          At a bare minimum, KJV readers should be converting to the NKJV which actually takes into account modern English diction.

          I am not sure that prayer is going to help your position on this issue since there is no need for divine intervention for simple translation work. This is a simple lexicon lookup that even a layperson could do. I know Greek and Hebrew but even those who don’t can solve this one with a simple Strongs lookup or checking in the BDB.

          • Justin,

            Your wiser than all on this board attitude has spoken loud and clear to me. You seem to put down every thing I pointed out even down to the friendly request for us to pray about it all. Phil.4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

            I did use my Strongs along with my Vines and yes I am a layman and that is okay, God resisteth the proud. Any one who reads
            1 Samuel 19:11-17 can tell that she made something simple like pillows or rags in the shape of a body to look like David was there in the bed to the messengers. Your condescending attitude about her making something to look like David i.e. pillows, rags, clothes, anything was rude and unhelpful.Of course I didn’t mean an Idol of David you said life sized replica.

            1 Samuel 19:11-17 11 Saul also sent messengers unto David’s house, to watch him, and to slay him in the morning: and Michal David’s wife told him, saying, If thou save not thy life to night, to morrow thou shalt be slain. I will not ever abandon KJV. I will not write or read anymore on your board to keep peace.

            12 So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped.

            13 And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth.

            14 And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, He is sick.

            15 And Saul sent the messengers again to see David, saying, Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may slay him.

            16 And when the messengers were come in, behold, there was an image in the bed, with a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster.

            17 And Saul said unto Michal, Why hast thou deceived me so, and sent away mine enemy, that he is escaped? And Michal answered Saul, He said unto me, Let me go; why should I kill thee?

            Philippians 4:9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

          • Lindsey,

            Your previous points were based on the the false premise that somehow Greek words could explain the English rendering of “image” in the KJV. But the passage was in Hebrew originally. Naturally, any point derived from this faulty logic is going to be shot down because the original premise was incorrect. You cannot do a word study in the wrong language.

            And no, not anyone who reads 1 Samuel is going to believe it’s anything except an idol or a statue …. which is why nearly every translation in the last 300 years says idol or statue. Nearly every instance this word shows up in the Hebrew scriptures it’s referring to an idol. The translators of the Greek Septuagint, in 200 BCE, knew that תְּרָפִים, referred to idols and so did Josephus who recorded the history of the Jews in the 1st century. And I would stress that the text says she TOOK and image and placed hair on it. She did not MAKE and image. Verbs matter.

            I would end with this, though. Every time someone who is KJVO comes on this site and they lob some softball argument at me or other commenters, they always accuse the other person of being prideful or that somehow their “spiritual” education and prayer is better than having done the work of learning the languages and history and obtaining a degree in the field of study which they are working in. For once I would love to see a KJVOer come on here and not insinuate that people who don’t read the KJV are somehow less spiritual or less informed. Nothing is more prideful than telling someone else they are prideful just because they presented an argument that you were not able to form a proper rebuttal to.

  7. Vielen Dank für den Artikel, er hat mir sehr geholfen.
    Nur- was sagst du denn zu 1.Samuel 19, 23 Und er ging von dort nach Najot in Rama. Und auch über ihn kam der Geist Gottes, und er ging daher und weissagte, bis er in Najot in Rama ankam.
    24 Und auch er zog seine Oberkleider aus, und auch er weissagte vor Samuel, und er fiel hin und lag nackt da den ganzen Tag und die ganze Nacht. Daher sagt man: Ist auch Saul unter den Propheten??
    Hier steht doch, dass er nackt war…?

  8. Technically, you cannot say that the idol belonged to her. The Bible says that she “put AN idol” in the bed. Bible doesn’t say who the idol belonged to, however, with the lack of women’s rights during these times, the only way an idol could remain in a house is if the man allowed it to remain. So no matter who it belonged to, it was David who allowed it to remain.

    Also, it is no surprise that Michal would despise David. Her life consisted of her being used as a political pun (property) in the antics of the two men in her life who should have loved her. And when she did have someone who truly loved her she was torn from him. So let’s put aside the notion of scripture as Gods Holy Word for a moment and realize that a human’s heart (a little girl at that) has been sorely trampled on. Think of the mental and emotional trauma that this type of thing would have on a person.

    One last thing. I don’t believe that God punished Michal for her actions in this story. We know that David wanted to make sure that there was no way for Saul’s family to contend for the throne again. So if he has Michal- who he assumes is last of Saul’s house at the time- the best way to solidify his plans is to simply not have sex with her and risk her getting pregnant.

  9. I read in a commentary that because of this thigh to hips cloth while dancing people could sometimes glimpse at his genitals. It made me think about those scottish skirts. In the vatican museum there is a painting called the Holy Family in the back of the picture are some nude men who were just baptised and thus became christian. It remains a somewhat difficult subject.
    Paul says in the New testament to the Jews a Jew to the Greek a Greek. If he went all the way (like missionaries often do) in this could it be possible that he sometimes did gymnastics(sports) naked as the Greeks at his time did ? I don’t have the final answer so i’m just asking. I also heard from an Indian friend of mine that he knew a group of christians that unclothed themselves as a token to be fully open to God the Father and Jesus the Son of God and The Holy Ghost and to each other. Nothing sexually about it. Just complete openness.

    • Wilbrand, thanks for the thoughtful comment. If you don’t mind, though, I’d like to note a few things.

      1. A “thigh to hips cloth” is not a recognizable cloth in ancient Israel (at least that I am aware of). In 1000 BCE the Israelites would have worn robes that were not all too different from the other cultures. This is seen in the many archaeological finds depicting Israelites. David, however, was wearing the priestly garment which would have been similar but made from a fine linen and designed to fit under an ephod. According to the biblical story, David was wearing an Ephod also. He would have been fully covered.

      2. Sometimes the custom in the Greco-Roman world was to unclothe themselves for bathing, even in public places. This was introduced by the Greeks. The Jews found this custom appalling. Nevertheless, David did not live in a Greco-Roman world. He lived 1000 years before the Holy Family.

      3. First, Paul most certainly did not participate in the Greek gyms. He was a member of the Pharisees who strictly forbade such things. Becoming a Christian would not have changed this. Secondly. the passage you quoted from Corinthians is incorrect. Paul did not say he became a Greek to the Greeks. Here is the correct quotation.

      “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. ”

      4. Strange Christian cults have always existed that try to emphasize a type of holy nudity. The fact that these groups exist have nothing to do with the biblical accounts that they are clearly misinterpreting.

      Hope these points are helpful. Sorry for such a long response.

  10. David is a foreshadow of the son of David, Jesus Christ. I believe David DID in fact take off his linen garments, a foreshadow of the picture of Christ being stripped of his garments at the cross. Christ was made sin (naked) that we would be covered by his righteousness (by his garments). He took our shame upon himself, just as Micol cast shame on David. And, as David offered up this dance (offering) with ALL his might, holding back nothing, so too Jesus Christ offered up an incredible offering/sacrifice, holding nothing back, even rejecting the wine/vinegar offered to him at the cross (which would have alleviated his suffering a bit).

    • So what you’re saying is that you believe the Biblical text should be altered to say he was naked so that it would agree with your preconceived notion that this story of a “type”of Christ?

  11. Justin, I agree with your assessment. Scripture declares that GOD instructed priests to wear certain undergarments to COVER their nakedness. David had a heart for God and would NOT have danced naked before Him, much less the people as their king — that would have dishonored God. See following reference: from Exodus 28:2 & Leviticus 8:7, 8:13

    The priestly undergarments (Biblical Hebrew: מִכְנְסֵי־בָד‎ miḵnəsē-ḇāḏ) were “linen breeches” (KJV) worn by the priests and the High Priest in ancient Israel. They reached from the waist to the knees and so were not visible, being entirely hidden by the priestly tunic.

    Hebrew Bible

    The biblical commandment instituting their use is found in the Book of Exodus 28:42

    You shall also make for them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; they shall extend from the hips to the thighs.

    Unlike the other priestly vestments which were “for glory and for beauty” (Exodus 28:2), the purpose of the michnasayin was for modesty, “to hide their nakedness”. In the Book of Leviticus when Moses consecrates Aaron and his sons as High Priest and priests, respectively, the linen undergarments are not mentioned (Leviticus 8:7, 8:13), though their use is obviously presumed

  12. I hadn’t paid much attention to this(to be honest)but now that I’m questioning everything I was taught in the “christian church” I’m glad I found your article.
    Couldn’t it simply be that Michal was quite embarrassed by David’s actions and his love for YHWH? I think “revealed” fits in this situation, as David revealed his true self and foolishly danced with abandon before the Lord. Michal, being Saul’s daughter would never have witnessed such an act except possibly by the priests and those of lower status than she and certainly not her father.
    David being a man after YHWH’s heart is revealing. Much more telling is that David would act on how he feels for his Elohim and allow his love to be expressed via dance, which had not be done before by a man of great power.

    • I believe that your assessment is correct. There is no reason to believe he was unclothed. Personally, I blame bad Bible translations and pastors who don’t do their due diligence in study or obtaining an education before claiming to be educated.

  13. Thank you for this article Justin. This helped me alot in my study of this part of David’s life. I was taught differently but had conflicting thoughts about it. Your article makes sense and isn’t confusing like trying to believe he was naked and then God punishing Michal for telling David to not be naked in front of people. God is not the author of confusion. Keep up the good work and God bless.

  14. yes it is true david danced naked you read full chapter 2samuel 6:20,20 And David returned to bless his own house: and Michol the daughter of Saul coming out to meet David, said: How glorious was the king of Israel to day, uncovering himself before the handmaids of his servants, and was naked, as if one of the buffoons should be naked.

    • I don’t know what jenk version in English you’re reading but you clearly didn’t read the article. If you’re reading the message bible them throw it away.

      Its very clear in Hebrew that he wasn’t naked and if you read the other retelling of events in Chronicles it clearly states that he had on the typical linen ephod which would have customary for what he was doing…. If he was a priest, not a king.

      • i read the English translation of tanakh too.I am a Syrian /Aramaic christian,my bible is not originated from English. tanakh also says same,many English bible give same translation. yes it is says he wear linen ephod,but do not relate that word and this word as day is a set of many incidents. why you are fighting against the truth.

  15. Good wright my Buckeye brother (grew up in Wadsworth… currently in Alabama).
    It does make me think when people automatically make David out to be naked, how God’s word states the heart really is. Anyway, what’s up with Michal despising David in her heart. 1Samuel 18:20-27 says that Michal had loved David. And David risked his life to marry her. But the Bible does not tell us anything else about Michal after this event. We do know Michal did not have any children (verse 23). Therefore, Saul’s family could not continue through Michal. Do you think she had a grudge against David because of her father, or just cringing with embarrassment by his behaviour being unfitting for a king.
    Just some thoughts.

    • Its pure speculation but I suspect that she may not have wanted to marry him to begin with. But even more than that, the Bible says that she had household idols (1 Sam 19:13).

      Perhaps she was uninterested in being with someone who worshipped YHWH and looked down on her worship of idols?

      • Yeah, good thought. One thing for sure, after being daughter of a king, I suppose being married to one wasn’t a big impression to her. I’m sure her spoiled disposition was something to reckon with…and with her idols.

        • The bible said explicitly that she did love David. And she advised and aided him to flee from her own Father. However, her love might have changed, which shouldn’t be too surprising, especially after she was later given to another man. This man, cried after her all the way to Abner’s. David didn’t even ask her if she wanted to go back with him. Her upbringing plus her likely lack of love for David, made her tolerance extremely low.


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