As the Ark of the Lord came into the city, Saul’s daughter Michal looked out the window. When she saw David jumping and dancing in the presence of the Lord, she hated him.
David put up a tent for the Ark of the Lord, and then the Israelites put it in its place inside the tent. David offered whole burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. When David finished offering the whole burnt offerings and the fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord All-Powerful. David gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates, and a cake of raisins to every Israelite, both men and women. Then all the people went home.
David went back to bless the people in his home, but Saul’s daughter Michal came out to meet him. She said, “With what honor the king of Israel acted today! You took off your clothes in front of the servant girls of your officers like one who takes off his clothes without shame!”
Then David said to Michal, “I did it in the presence of the Lord. The Lord chose me, not your father or anyone from Saul’s family. The Lord appointed me to be over Israel. So, I will celebrate in the presence of the Lord. Maybe I will lose even more honor, and maybe I will be brought down in my own opinion, but the girls you talk about will honor me!”
And Saul’s daughter Michal had no children to the day she died. (New Century Version)
A true celebration of God was underway, enjoying the blessing of God. The sacrifices before God were sweet smelling because they were done in a spirit of obedience and humility, and according to the specifications of worship with the Ark of God’s Covenant.
However, David’s wife, Michal, the daughter of the former king, Saul, did not worship. She critically observed David and the others and evaluated the worship service by how it appeared to her. Michal was not with everyone else giving herself to the true worship of God. She did not like how her husband went about worship.
The acceptable worship of God was not acceptable to her, and she gave David an earful about it. Yet, David was undaunted. He had his focus where it ought to be.
We get a cryptic last note on Michal, describing that she was barren to the day of her death – it is a note on her meant to convey both a physical reality of her body, and a spiritual reality of her soul.
So, how are we to worship God? In the New Testament Gospels, Jesus said about worship:
“Indeed, the time is coming, and it is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. The Father is looking for people like that to worship him. God is a spirit. Those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:4:23-24, GW)
Neither good intentions alone (in spirit) nor appropriate actions alone (in truth) constitute acceptable worship. We must possess both. The worship Jesus talked about was literally “to prostrate oneself before God.” In other words, it is to embrace both the disposition and the attitude of submission and humility toward God, seeking to obey the Lord as rightful Ruler, rather than superimpose our desires on him.
Furthermore, God is both near to us and far away from us, all at the same time. God is close to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ, and now in the person of the Holy Spirit. God exists supreme and far above us, calling the shots of how we ought to be living our lives.
We must appreciate both divine transcendence and divine immanence.
The presence of God is both comforting and dangerous. God’s holiness is like a fire, giving us light and warmth – get too close to the flame and you will get burned, even destroyed. We do not get to tell God what we are to be doing and how to go about it. We have collective promises and blessings given to us as God’s people. Yet, at the same time, we have a responsibility to know God’s will and to do it in God’s way.
God cares about worship. If we worship any old way we want without consideration of how God wants it done, or if we just critically watch worship without engaging in it, then we ought not to expect blessing. However, if pay attention to God and are careful to do what God wants in God’s way, then we will enjoy God’s approval.
The Church is first and foremost a worshiping community of redeemed persons through the blood of Christ, which are given to the world in order to glorify God:
Everyone on this earth,
sing praises to the Lord.
Day after day announce,
“The Lord has saved us!”
Tell every nation on earth,
“The Lord is wonderful
and does marvelous things!
The Lord is great and deserves
our greatest praise!
He is the only God
worthy of our worship.
Other nations worship idols,
but the Lord created
Give honor and praise
to the Lord,
whose power and beauty
fill his holy temple.”
Tell everyone of every nation,
“Praise the glorious power
of the Lord.
He is wonderful! Praise him
and bring an offering
into his temple.
Worship the Lord,
majestic and holy. (1 Chronicles 16:23-29, CEV)
The text in 1 Chronicles, a restatement of our Old Testament lesson for today, goes on to say:
David left Asaph and his coworkers with the Chest of the Covenant of God and in charge of the work of worship; they were responsible for the needs of worship around the clock.
He also assigned Obed-Edom and his sixty-eight relatives to help them. Obed-Edom son of Jeduthun and Hosah were in charge of the security guards. The priest Zadok and his family of priests were assigned to the Tent of God at the sacred mound at Gibeon to make sure that the services of morning and evening worship were conducted daily, complete with Whole-Burnt-Offerings offered on the Altar of Burnt Offering, as ordered in the Law of God, which was the norm for Israel.
With them were Heman, Jeduthun, and others specifically named, with the job description: “Give thanks to God, for his love never quits!” Heman and Jeduthun were also well equipped with trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments for accompanying sacred songs. The sons of Jeduthun formed the security guard. (1 Chronicles 16:37-42, MSG)
David exerted his kingly authority by instituting that in Israel the worship of God was to take place every day – not just one day a week. He hired hundreds of musicians, singers, and worship leaders to minister before the Lord every single day, twice a day.
Many believers bemoan the morality and lack of spirituality in our world. Yet, if God’s people are not first and foremost a worshiping community, then we have nowhere else to look to institute the change which is needed.
In addition, every conceivable instrument and voice was used to praise God in worship. New songs were written continually by David, and arranged by Asaph, the worship leader.
While we make plans and conceive of ideas for our lives, God is waiting for us to worship. It would be good to spend some time each morning when we arise, and each evening at bedtime, in worship following the example of David: remembering God, and who we are; singing to the Lord; confessing sin; claiming forgiveness; reading Scripture; and, praying.
If we all devoted ourselves to worship without shame, then we might begin to imagine God opening to us blessing upon blessing.
*Above sketches of King David dancing before the Lord, by Rebecca Brogan