Summary: The sad truth is that many never worship instead they watch.
In the reading from 2 Samuel we see two contrasting positions that I think impact on how we worship God. We find David getting excited & passionate about God, his wife Michal the daughter of Saul watching & getting angry with her Husband. She tells him off in no uncertain terms because he danced in the streets with the servants in worship of God as the Ark of the Lord was brought into the city.
Now I recognise that dancing isn’t a common part of the worshipping life of most Methodists, but I do believe that if you will follow me together we will learn vital lessons about real passionate inspired worship.
The sad truth is that worship so often is a battleground where we fight and argue about style and music – certainly in most Churches I have been in and I hear it is true for some here too.
See if you recognise any of these statements:-
Are we modern or traditional?
Are we charismatic or ‘normal’?
Are we organ or band?
Are we old or new?
Are we formal or informal?
Are we happy & clappy or reserved?
Any sound familiar to you?
Yet I have to say, and I believe we have to learn as Church that these are all really irrelevant because the real question is do you watch or do you worship.
Michal watched – she was a spectator – she was preoccupied with being who she was and didn’t want to sully herself with being with the ordinary people or embarrass herself by getting carried away in worship. She is a watcher and like most watchers in worship she gets angry with the worshipper. Michel is angry because David is undignified (NIV translation).
Her huge mistake is in thinking that being in worship is about us when it’s all about God. She fails so dramatically to understand that worship is about letting go of all of this nonsense and being aware fully of God. Something we can do with loud charismatic worship, more traditional worship, Taizé or Iona. It’s not about style but what is going on in our hearts.
So she despises the worshipper in David
I think David must have been wounded by her attack on him. I have to tell you as an aside that worshippers can be wounded and hurt by the viciousness of people who are watchers. I have seen many standing on the sidelines casting stones at those worshipping causing people who are trying to offer God their best heartache, and making them feel so unwelcome and not part of the family. I have seen it and have to say felt it myself many times.
And therein lies a bigger problem for us. for if we can’t tolerate and love those who wish to express themselves in worship in different ways to us then the scriptures tell us we will have a problem loving God too.
We all need to realise then that we have to become less self aware in worship. David of course didn’t have this problem of self awareness here – he was full of God awareness & able to forget himself in worship. Then right after Michal’s criticism David says some of the most wonderful words in response – he says ‘I will become even more undignified than this!’ (NIV)
There are two songs written by Matt Redman for a new generation of people in love with Jesus that have shaped my understanding and influenced me greatly in this area of worship. One is based on this passage we are studying called just ‘Undignified’ and another called ‘When the music fades’ which I want you to read a little later.