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, especially Rick Pino type of services.
The only place I found even a mention that might could refer to undress was in Thomas Nelson’s Bible Dictionary, but that is a very 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
The word dance that is referred to is:
raqad (raw-kad’); a primitive root; properly, to stamp, i.e. to spring about (wildly or for joy):
KJV – dance, jump, leap, skip.
Which very well could have meant that David was skipping and leaping. He was also playing an instrument. That word for dance is not the same word translated as dance in Exodus 32:19 when the Israelites were dancing wildly in front of the Golden Calf.
The ancient dance was very different from that common among Western nations. It was usually the part of the women only (Exodus 15:20; Judges 11:34; comp. 5:1). Hence the peculiarity of David’s conduct in dancing before the ark of the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14). The women took part in it with their timbrels. Michal should, in accordance with the example of Miriam and others, have herself led the female choir, instead of keeping aloof on the occasion and “looking through the window.” David led the choir “uncovered”, i.e., wearing only the ephod or linen tunic. He thought only of the honour of God, and forgot himself.
(from Easton’s Bible Dictionary, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
… David brought it up [the ark], stripping off his royal robe in the presence of the symbol of Jehovah’s throne, the true King, and in a linen ephod, to mark his assuming the priestly along with the kingly function, “dancing before the Lord with all his might,” …
(from Fausset’s Bible Dictionary, Electronic Database Copyright © 1998, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
~ 2 Sam 6:12-19
On this occasion David laid aside his imperial purple, and put on a plain linen ephod, which was light and convenient for dancing, and was used in religious exercises by those who were no priests, for Samuel wore one, 1 Samuel 2:18. That great prince thought it no disparagement to him to appear in the habit of a minister to the ark.
(from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, PC Study Bible Formatted Electronic Database Copyright © 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All Rights reserved.)
We should all humble ourselves before the Lord and serve Him with the sincerity of David.