Summary: Our worship of God should be completely authentic; the place in our lives where we give all of ourselves without reservation.
This story of the Israelites moving the Ark of God into the city of Jerusalem is a Bible story that I have always loved. The vivid picture of David dancing with all his might before the Lord is one of the most wonderful glimpses of David’s early reign and his devotion to the Lord as King of God’s people, Israel. David has gathered thousands of chosen Israelites, and in great fanfare, with songs and instruments and dancing, they have gone together to bring the ark of God from the house of Abinadab to Jerusalem. As the ark moves closer and closer to Jerusalem, David is so excited he can hardly contain himself. Actually, he is not able to contain himself at all!
Have you ever had moments in your life when you were that excited? For my sake, I sometimes get that excited on laundry days. (Yeah, that surprised you, didn’t it?) You know, those days when you’re throwing your laundry in the washing machine and you dip your hand into a pocket only to find a $5 bill that you had forgotten you put there. Or maybe that money has gone through the wash already, and you find it weeks later when you wear that outfit again. It’s like free money! I always feel like jumping around and dancing when I find some extra money in my pockets. But there are many other milestones in our lives that may bring us an even greater sense of joy: a graduation, a marriage, the birth of a first child, or landing that first job. Maybe we know that joy in baptism or in seeing a person come to Christ; or when we came to know Christ ourselves. What are the other things in our lives that get us so excited we can hardly contain ourselves? And when we get that excited, how do we express our joy?
As David brought the ark of God into Jerusalem, we are told that he is dancing before the Lord with all his might; that he even offers a sacrifice of an ox and a fatling. To some, David’s behavior might seem really crazy. If we were to continue reading after this passage, we would read of Saul’s daughter, Michal, confronting David about his behavior. She is angry, and we are led to believe this is so because she thought David’s dancing was madness. John Wesley even suggested caution. He advised, “Public joy should always be before the Lord, with an eye to him, and terminating in him. Otherwise it is no better than public madness, and the source of all manner of wickedness.” But what makes David’s dancing so wonderful is the fact that his public joy is before the Lord, he is worshiping God.
David’s dancing before the Lord is a model example of how we should worship God as well. In complete and wreckless abandon, David offered all of himself in praise before the Lord. I’m not saying that we have to strip down to our underwear and do a jig, but what is important is that our worship be an offering of all of ourselves in praise of the living God. Our worship must be totally real, all of us, given in complete surrender before the Lord.
I love worship. It may not be obvious to you, but I have a passion for worship that at times is completely thought-consuming. I think worship should be the place in our lives where we can be completely and 100% authentic; the place where we give all of ourselves to the God who has given all of himself to us. And this is what David did as the ark of God moved into Jerusalem and he danced before it. David was so completely absorbed in his worship of the Lord, that he completely lost himself in the act. He did not care what onlookers might think; he was not worried about observers who might feel that his behavior was “not appropriate” for the King of a nation. David was compelled only by his love and joy for the God, who through the covenant housed in that ark, had opened the doors for a relationship between God’s self and that nation of Israel. And in gratitude for the great offerings and many blessings bestowed by God, David gave all of himself in worship to that same God. We, as ones whose lives are also greatly blessed by God in Jesus Christ, are also called to offer all of ourselves in worship to God. Because, you see, to abandon worship of God is to live with the illusion that somehow there is something more important than God in our lives.
Worship is the way we express outwardly and visibly (and sometimes even privately and personally) that God is the most important part of our lives. I love worship. Though I’m not a terribly emotional or excitable person, worship is something that I am passionate about. I like to experience worship in different ways and in different places, I like to read about worship, and think about creative ways of doing worship. I have dreams and ideals about how I would like worship to be. In my ideal, worship will happen in such a way that at any given service, on any given day, in any place around the world, any person can walk in off the streets, take part in that service, and find at least one way through in that worship time where they are able to connect with God and offer the pure, unhindered praise like that which David offered as the ark of God was carried in Jerusalem. Now, does that sound like a lofty ideal? Sure it does, but I believe such worship really is possible. I believe it is possible when all believers seek to be completely authentic in their praise of God, and give all of themselves without reserve or hesitation just as David did.