Undignified and Despised

Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing 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, Michal 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.

2 Samuel 6:12-16

King David eventually learned his lesson and let go of his fear of the manifest Presence of the Lord. He also learned his lesson about reverence. This time, instead of leaving the ark at Obed-Edom’s house, he would take it into his own city. But he would transport it as prescribed in the Law, and he would do it with reverence, awe, and worship.

As I described in my last post, when the manifest Presence of God comes in power, people can sometimes do unusual things. King David couldn’t help but dance before the Lord with all his might. He couldn’t help but celebrate, shout, and leap before the Lord. It’s as if gratitude and love began to well up from within him and it started leaking out into his body. His body couldn’t contain all of it and had to let it out through dancing.

Yet, when King David’s wife sees him acting like a passionate worshiper and not a King with royal decorum, she despised him in her heart. This reaction was pure disgust at David’s exuberance.

When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”

2 Samuel 6:20

King David’s response to her is perfect and something every Christians should take note of.

David said to Michal, “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.”

2 Samual 6:21-22

Essentially, David had to remind Michal that he was dancing for an audience of one. He didn’t care what others might think about him. He wasn’t focused on that. He was full of gratitude in that moment and had to worship the Lord for His goodness and kindness. He wasn’t held back by pride and protocol like Michal was. He wasn’t held back by a sense of shame and superiority like Michal. Unfettered by self-absorption, David could fully worship the Lord with his whole self. And the slave girls seem to understand this better than his own queen.

This happens so often in church services. While one person–unshackled by pride, self-consciousness, and shame–worships with their whole being, the person nearby scoffs in their heart, judging them with disgust and distain for their outward expression. Yet, secretly, the scoffer wishes that she could worship so freely.

In the American church we have to get past this accusation of being “overly emotional.” Is it even possible to be “overly emotional” about Jesus dying on the cross for our sin? Is it even possible to get “overly emotional” about a Savior who gave up everything to rescue us from eternal destruction? In light of God’s infinite goodness and kindness toward us in Christ, just how much emotion is too much? And when the Holy Spirit starts stirring in our hearts, will our heart not react with emotion? Isn’t that what it is supposed to do? My guess is that most Christians aren’t showing near enough emotion, and our lack of emotion is proof that we don’t understand how good this “good news” really is.

When people get rescued from imminent death from police or fire fighters, they don’t just stoically shake their rescuers hand and walk away. They passionately embrace their rescuer with tears streaming down their face and weep in the presence of their savior. Maybe the person in the corner who is raising their hands, shouting to the Lord, and weeping has a better handle on reality than the rest of us. Before we judge them, maybe they are grasping this great gospel we believe a little more fully than the rest of us. Maybe in that moment, they are the undignified King David and we are the Michal.

We must ask ourselves what kind of worshiper we are. Are we shackled by our own pride? Are we bound by our shame and our concern about what people might think? Are we fettered by a sense of superiority or embarrassment? If so, we need to heed of the writer of Hebrews who challenged us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”(Hebrews 12:1). Let’s worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth, and let’s abandoned our self-consciousness and all that would hold us back from a robust and worshipful response to the goodness of God.