It is commonly taught that David danced naked before the Lord. Yet the Bible says, “David was girded with a linen ephod.” ~ 2 Samuel 6:14
The linen ephod was a priestly garment.
When David first attempted to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem, it was a disaster. David (as King) had chosen to bring the Ark of the Covenant home on a new cart. There was dancing and rejoicing while the Ark was in transport on the new cart.
And David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals. ~ 2 Samuel 6:5
Yet in this atmosphere, God’s judgement came, and Uzzah lost his life when he reached out to steady the Ark from falling off the cart.
And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. ~ 2 Samuel 6:6-7
David became afraid of the the Lord that day (2 Samuel 6:9; 1 Chronicles 13:12) and the Ark was placed in the home of Obed-Edom the Gittite for 3 months, and the Lord blessed Obededom, and all his household. ~ 2 Samuel 6:11
In due time, it was revealed to David that he had handled the Ark of the Covenant inappropriately, and that only the priests were sanctioned to transport the Ark.
And David made him houses in the city of David, and prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched for it a tent. Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the Lord chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever. And David gathered all Israel together to Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the Lord unto his place, which he had prepared for it. ~ 1 Chronicles 15:1-3
After this, David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a line ephod – a priestly garment. He rejoiced in the presence of God, while wearing this priestly garment as the Levites carried the Ark of the Covenant to the tent David had prepared for it.
The lesson here is not that David danced naked in some out of control manner, thus giving us a proof-text for when things get out of control in church services.
The lesson is that God is a God of order. As 2 Samuel 6:5 reveals, there was great rejoicing while the Ark was on a new cart, but it was out of order, and judgement fell.
Later there was great rejoicing “after the due order” and blessings followed.
For because ye did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order. ~ 1 Chronicles 15:13
When David danced before the Lord in his Kings apparel with the Ark on a new cart, there as judgment. When he put on a priestly garment, and danced before the TRUE KING OF ISRAEL, after the due order, there was blessing.
When the Spirit of the Lord is moving, there is order and self control (a fruit of the Spirit), and a humbling of ourselves in the presence of the King.
David did not dance naked before the Lord, and we should not use this as a proof text for not doing all things decently and in order as Paul instructs us in 2 Corinthians 14:40.