THE FREEDOM TO WORSHIP
2 Samuel 6:14-23
I have to tell you I’ve done some embarrassing things in my life, like when Wilma from Anderson Christian Church came up to me after a sermon and said, “I’ve got to tell you something” I thought it might be “Amazing Sermon. It was as if Peter the Apostle were preaching today.” But NO….Wilma whispered “Did you know your fly has been down all day?”
Or when I was carrying groceries in Kroger’s parking lot a couple of years ago in January. It was icy and I did a double axle with a half twist before landing next to my car. The teenage couple walking in thought it was absolutely hilarious.
During one of my first sermons I was at Broadway Christian Church in Lexington. I was 20 years old and Mike Breaux had invited me to share on their youth Sunday. My mom had bought me this new pair of shoes “Bass Weejuns” penny loafers and “Man, the soles were slick…so slick that when I got to the invitation time I fell off the stage into the Baby grand piano. It’s hard to accept Jesus when you’re laughing so hard at the speaker you cannot get up.
I have had some seriously “undignified” moments in my life…some from stupidity, some from clumsiness, and occasionally a few because of worship.
If you had walked into the sanctuary during the night of our V.B.S. opening program…I sure wouldn’t have looked very dignified. I was doing this dance that involved acting like a rock, a tree, and my favorite “A bird.” What made it even better was that along with the one leading the singing were some amazing teenagers, tons of kids and other church leaders who were acting at least as undignified as I was. Their rock, tree and Bird were o.k. but mine were much more spiritual, NOT!
It was just a really fun time of celebration and joy. It was a time to do the motions and dance before the Lord. It was a time to be undignified. But I genuinely believe it was a time of worship.
But what would have happened if Gloria Grump has walked in during that time, she sees me in my camo shorts, work boots and in the middle of my “Gospel Chicken” imitation…after its through she says…”Rick, I’m really disappointed in the way you behaved…Preachers don’t dance…especially like deranged chickens…it was undignified and embarrassing to see you act that way before the Lord” “You looked like some drunk at a NIGHTCLUB; not the Senior Minister of our Church”
“David wearing a linen ephod danced before the Lord with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
As the Ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michel, daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.” Gloria Grump and Michel, Saul’s daughter, were cut from the same unhappy cloth. And can not understand the passionate undignified joy of worship. Worship which…..
CELEBRATES THE RETURN OF THE LORD’S PRESENCE.
I think II Samuel 6 is a microcosm. It’s one isolated incident, but it reveals why David was a “Man after God’s heart.” A man filled with “the spirit of the Lord,” and why God used David in such powerful ways. David has been crowned the King of Israel (In Saul’s place). He has defeated not just Goliath, but now the Philistine Nation. He has recaptured the fortress of Zion. And he’s bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem.
All of that is to say…this is one of the greatest days of his life!
II Samuel 6: 5 says “David and the whole house of Israel are celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums (A shaken metal instrument) and cymbals.
During Saul’s reign the Philistines were conquering the Israelites. In fact they had stolen the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark represented God’s presence among his people. It was a lot more than just a gold box with cherubims on top. It had no power in and of itself, but it was housed in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle…when God resided on the mercy-seat during worship and sacrifice it represented His presence on earth.
The Philistines had kept it in their possession for 7 months…and it caused them all kinds of problems, so they sent it back on an ox cart. It was brought to the home of Abinadab, where it stayed for almost 50 years, just inside the border of Israel. David wants God’s presence brought back to Jerusalem. He wanted God to be in the heart of the nation, not just inside its border.
This is what’s taking place on the streets of Jerusalem. The Ark of the Lord, the visible presence of God is being returned to its rightful place of worship.
“And David and the whole house of Israel are celebrating this event with all their might.”
The priests carry the ark upon their shoulders, they carry the ark 6 paces and then sit it down and offer sacrifices to the Lord.
Finally they near the city of Jerusalem and the weight of the occasion suddenly strikes the heart of King David.
“I see him look into the eyes of the people who line the street, the emotion on their faces penetrates his heart…some are weeping, some are laughing, some are singing, some are dancing with joy…and suddenly David is enveloped and overcome with thanksgiving and praise…the ark is back, the presence of God is where it should be and David forgets his dignity as King…His feet say “Its shouting time” Its time to DANCE for joy.
But it’s also important to understand for this to happen it requires understanding and preparing for who God is…
TOUCHING THE CART CAN BE DANGEROUS
One of the most troubling stories in the Old Testament is found in II Samuel 6. It occurs when they go to retrieve the ark from Abinadab’s house…remember it’s been there 50 years…and they set the ark of God on a new cart. As they bring it back we read in verses 6-8
II Samuel 6: 6-8
In their haste to get the ark back they put in on a cart pulled by animals. They’re moving along, singing dancing…playing music.
And they come to a threshing floor, suddenly the ark hits a rock…it tilts and Uzziah one the men in charge of steadying the ark reaches out to secure it… He places his hand on the ark and drops dead. It doesn’t seem fair does it. David even gets angry at the Lord and leaves the ark at the home of Obed-edom for 3 months. And the presence of God blesses this home in amazing ways.
Here’s the problem… whenever you attempt to carry God around on your terms…there’s a big problem…when you forget whose presence you’re in and think worship is a gold box your spirituality can be contained in. You’re in trouble. God cannot be contained in your box!!!
The Ark was to be carried by God’s priests. It was a visible symbol of His Holy presence. Worship becomes irreverent when we forget who God is and reach out to sturdy the box…thinking our way of bringing his presence Home in worship is better than His WAY…God is one hundred percent HOLY and being one hundred percent Holy means you cannot let one of your perfect commands just slide…”Don’t touch the ark” means….don’t touch it one hundred percent of the time.
Worship isn’t about ox carts or priests with poles. It isn’t about 2 worship songs and 2 hymns. It’s about the holy presence of an Almighty God…and it’s dangerous to our souls when we forget this truth. God would never be contained with the Ark of the Covenant… and He will never be contained in my little box of preferences.
Let me end this morning with a return to the street s of Jerusalem and David’s wife Michal as a warning.
THE HEART OF WORSHIP IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUTWARD APPEARANCE.
When David returns home after the joyful celebration to bless his household….Michal, Saul’s daughter…who watched the celebration from a window…blasts him.
“How the King of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow world.”
Sarcasm oozes like poison from her mouth.
I want to end today with 3 quick warnings from Michal.
1). First of all she’s watching from a window instead of participating.
There will always be folks who watch from the window with an idea of what worship is. They will always look at worship through their glasses of what is dignified and presentable. And many time the freedom they see others enjoying with God causes them to dispose those who enjoy it.
2). She doesn’t like that David’s disrobed himself.
David’s taken off the royal robes. She doesn’t think that’s proper. But isn’t that the picture of worship. Worship is disrobing. It baring our souls to God…It’s an intimate examination of your self in His presence. It’s also a recognition that it’s not about my “royal robes”. It’s not about me proving I’m the King of Israel. Davis was embracing who God is…King of Kings
Unhealthy and unholy people are trapped by a fear of looking foolish or undignified. So the exterior covers a heart that will not relinquish the throne… or disrobe to dance. May God help us “Be humiliated in our own eyes.”The
3). Jealously creates a barren soul.
When David reminds Michal that God chose him rather than her father or any of her family to rule over the people of Israel you have to know this comes from a discerning heart which saw that jealousy bring hatred and sarcasm instead of blessing to this household.
Michal was living in the past instead of worshiping in the present…and it caused not only barrenness in her soul, but no children in her marriage to the day of her death, jealousy always causes barrenness spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. It destroys worship.
Here’s what impresses me about David. He wasn’t afraid of looking foolish. He wasn’t afraid of taking off his royal robes and dancing without hindrance and without inhibition before the Lord.
Think about the circumstances. David was the newly crowned king of Israel. The significance of that is this: I think there was added pressure to act like a King. He had a reputation to protect. He had a crown to represent. Kings don’t disrobe and dance! Shepherd boys do!
And no one knew than better than Michal. Why? She was a KK- a King’s Kid. She grew up in the palace. She knew the protocol. And I’m guessing that Saul was very kingly. In fact, I think Saul woke up with scratches on his face because he slept with his crown on his head. Saul was all about pomp and circumstance!
Saul looked like a King…David looked like a worshipper. Michal longed for the Kingly appearance…David longed for the King.
By the way it doesn’t say why Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death, but its seems to me that common sense dictates there was no intimacy between her and King David…jealousy always creates barrenness in our relationships and in our worship…because worship will never ever be about appearance…worship will always be about loving someone so much we don’t care what we look like when we celebrate it.