I love music.
I come from a very musical family full of people who have been in band and/or choir. My family likes to sing – all of us. When we get together it’s like a live-action musical.
Seriously. A few years ago we were all together at my sister’s house for Christmas. Her in-laws were also there for a while. One night we were gathered around the table playing a game. At one point in the game, after something funny had happened, my sister’s mother-in-law asked, “Oh no, are they going to sing again?”
I love to sing. Dancing, on the other hand…let’s just say we weren’t blessed with that gene. I played trumpet in high school, and it’s no exaggeration to say that the only rhythm in my entire body lies in the index, middle, and ring fingers on my right hand. It’s straight up embarrassing when I attempt to move my body to the music.
I’m talking Elaine from “Seinfeld” kind of awful.
That’s probably why I love the story in 2 Samuel 6. It’s one of the most amazing worship services in the Bible.
When David became king of Israel, he moved the capital city to Jerusalem. The Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant had, up to this point, been in Shiloh and a couple other places. But now David wanted to give the Ark a permanent dwelling place. Although the Lord prevented David from building the Temple, all the prep work was made. The Temple, the Ark, and subsequently God’s presence, would reside on the prime piece of real estate in the new capital.
David and his men began transporting the Ark to it’s new home, but they hit an initial snag. The Ark was set on a cart – not carried with poles by the priests. The oxen stumbled (I think Israel learned it’s road paving techniques from Illinois…), the Ark rocked, Uzzah tried to stabilize it but was struck dead. They’re not off to a very good start. So David unloads the Ark at someone else’s house for three months – back to the drawing boards.
Three months later David tries again. This time, taking every precaution. He has the Ark carried like it was supposed to be. Along the way, David – not a priest – sacrificed a bull and a calf every six steps. Six steps! Every 20 feet leading into Jerusalem there was the carcass of a dead animal. Imagine the barbecue they had later…
So not only is he sacrificing the whole way, but as they enter Jerusalem the crowds are shouting, the trumpets are playing, and David is dancing with all his might. David would have been kicked out of most of our churches.
When the Ark was brought to the Tabernacle, David blessed all the people. But not only that, he gave everyone there a gift of bread and pastries.
This was a parade, a festival, a celebration – this was worship. Singing, dancing, cheering, excitement, blessings, fellowship, and food.
But there will always be someone upset at the freedom of others when it comes to worship. Michal, David’s wife, was downright embarrassed by his display. She scolds him for making himself look so foolish in front of other people.
I love David’s reply: “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when He appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel – I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”
At the heart of worship was the relationship between David and God. It didn’t matter what anybody else said or thought about him. David determined that he will celebrate with all his might.
Did God ever prescribe dancing and trumpets and free bread as acceptable worship? No. But was He pleased with David and Israel on that day? Did He delight in seeing His children celebrate with all their might? Absolutely.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to get up on stage next Sunday go all Gangam Style. But why should anybody stop me from worshiping with all my might? Who’s to say that you can’t pour your heart out in celebration of God’s presence?
Celebration is at the heart of worship.