Lesson 4: A LINEN EPHOD
“And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod” (2 Sam. 6:14).
Some believe David sinned by wearing the linen ephod in his worship. Although the linen ephod is primarily associated with the high priests‟ garments, it was by no means limited to the high priest.
The elaborately embroidered ephod was a garment which the Jewish high priest was required to wear when officially engaged in religious duties. (Exod. 28:4) Suspended from the shoulders, it covered both back and front like a tunic. On the shoulders were two onyx stones on which the names of the 12 tribes of Israel were engraved (Exod. 28:9-10, 39:6-7). Worn as an outer vestment, the ephod was held in at the waist by a twined linen girdle of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet. The breastplate with the Urim and Thummim was on top, held by golden chains and rings (Exod. 28:25-28, 39:19-21). The high priest was adorned in this fashion to symbolize the presence of God with his people.
Samuel wore an ephod (1 Sam. 2:18), and all of the priests with Ahimilech (the high priest at the time) wore ephods (1 Sam. 22:18) but not the elaborate garments of the high priests. There is no question but that the plain linen ephod was at least closely associated with the priesthood, but apparently the embroidered ephod was limited to the high priest. Samuel was a judge, a seer (1 Sam. 8:19) and a prophet, probably a priest, although the scriptures do not specify. Samuel was a descendent of Levi through Kohath (1 Chro. 6:38), the same tribe through which Aaron was descended (1 Chr. 6:1-3). His father was an Ephrathite, because he lived in Mt. Ephraim, but not because he was descended from the tribe of Ephraim. Hannah may have been of the tribe of Levi, but there is no record of it. Concerning Samuel’s ancestry, see 1 Samuel 7:9. “And Samuel took a sucking lamb and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord: and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him.” We know that King Saul was condemned for offering a sacrifice which only the priests and Levites could offer. Samuel was at least a Levite (if not a priest) or he would have been condemned along with King Saul. In any case, Samuel wore an ephod showing it was not limited to the high priest or even to the priests. David was a prophet (Acts 2:29-30) just as Samuel was a prophet, and thus authorized as much as Samuel to wear the ephod.
In 2 Samuel 6 we see David wearing a linen ephod as he is bringing the ark back to Jerusalem. It appears that Psalm 132 may be associated with the events of this chapter. The point we need to take from his wearing the ephod is that he was doing it “to the Lord” and not to men. He had removed his royal garments and was traveling among the priests who were bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. He commanded that animals be sacrificed every few feet as they went—obviously seeking the favor of the Almighty. His intent was to repair the breach that had been left between Israel and God ever since the Philistines had captured the ark during Eli’s time. Deeply dedicated to pleasing his Creator, King David worshiped and praised Him as he went that day. His dancing was to the Lord and not to men and his wearing the ephod was for that purpose as well.
After Uzzah’s death, David must have searched God’s laws diligently to understand why the Lord was not pleased the last time they tried to bring back the ark, and now he is making sure everything is according to law. Can we also be equally concerned about our worship to the Lord that we do what is pleasing in His sight? Are we concerned with our actions and even our clothing that we not bring shame but glory to the God who created us?
- Using an ordinary dictionary, find out how linen is made.
- Using 28:6-14; Exod. 28:31-35and Exod. 25:7 as your sources, describe the ephod in detail. Be sure to give the purpose of the ephod.
- For what did Abiathar use the ephod (1 Sam. 30:7-9)?
- How many people wore the ephod all at one time (1 Sam. 22:18)?
- For what did Micah use the ephod (Judges 17:5)?
- What is said about Samuel wearing an ephod?
- How did Gideon’s ephod cause the people to sin? Tell what happened to it (Judges 8:24-27).
- Using a Strong’s Concordance search the scriptures to find out more about the ark and the reasons it was taken by the Philistines.
- Read Psalm 132 comparing it to events in 2 Samuel 6.
- What happened the first time David tried to bring the ark back to Jerusalem?
- What was the prophecy concerning the absence of the Ephod from Israel ( 3:4)?
- Many people say it really does not matter what we wear when we worship God. How should we answer that statement