Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Do the Jesus Dance
I sent my brother this card for his birthday that had the words "How to Dance Properly" written on the front. Just beneath the inscription was a hologram. When you tilted the card forward and back, the image- a youngish looking guy- would swing his arms and hips in this silly looking dance. It reminded me of Grant because he's got pretty good moves for a white guy. He took social dance class at Wake Forest and learned to swing and waltz and all of that good stuff, but he also has rhythm, and can legitimately dance when he wants to.
Maybe it was that card or the increasing Word coming to me to rejoice and be glad, or a combination of those things, but for whatever reason when I read 2 Samuel 6 a few days ago, I laughed out loud at the fun of it.
Here's the story: King David has just started reaching his prime. After years of running for his life from a jealous, enraged and crazed King Saul, the Lord finally removed Saul from the Earth and David was, for the first time since he was a boy-shepherd, free. Can you imagine what that felt like? Having a yoke of fear and oppression you've known since you were a boy lifted finally? And not only that, David was now free to inherit the kingdom of Israel, to become its chosen king, a job for which he had been anointed years before.
It must have been a really exciting time for David. God was handing over the land He wanted him to have- and an especially special piece of that land was the city of Jerusalem, which had previously belonged to the Jebusites, but from that time on would be called the City of David. David was setting up house, getting married (a lot) and having kids. God was blessing David, to be sure, but there was one blessing that was lacking- David had not yet brought the ark of the covenant (see Exodus 25) into the city walls.
So 2 Samuel 6 starts out with David and 30,000 of Israel's most upstanding citizens determined to move the ark. I'm assuming that the original plan was to move it from out in the hills down into the city, but along the way, something really incredible happened. One of the men (His name was Uzzah) walking alongside the cart that was holding the ark, reached out and grabbed the ark (assumably to keep it from falling) when the oxen stumbled. The guy should have chosen to fear God rather than gravity, because when he touched the ark, God was angry and he struck him dead. When you read this at face-value, that seems really harsh of God. But, this crew of happy transporters, though they were well-meaning and excited at the prospect of giving the ark an honorable place in the city, had completely neglected God's explicit commands for how to handle the ark. It's recorded in Numbers 4 that when the ark was to be transported, only the sons of Aaron could prepare the ark, and even they could not touch it or they would die (Numbers 4:15). Furthermore, the ark was never to be placed in a cart, but carried on the shoulders of a specific clan- the Kohathites. Uzzah was a Levite, not a descendent of Aaron, so his touch was even more of a disgrace in the eyes of the Lord. And so the Lord killed him right then and there.
David was amazed and terrified! This is something I really like about David. He is credited as a man after God's own heart, but, especially in circumstances like these, we're reminded of how much of a man he was. Far from the super-hero confidence he displayed when he slayed the giant Philistine years before, David was so spooked by Uzzah's death that he decided to send the ark elsewhere- outside of the city. He was scared to have it in his house! This is so David, and so all of us- one moment we're confident and completely sure of God's plan for our lives and His deliverance, the next we're terrified and need a minute to re-group in the familiar comforts of home. I remember being like this when I was just getting to know the Lord. I would go to church or BSF and learn something so terrifying and amazing about Him that I would want to go home and watch Golden Girls reruns to calm my mind! Ha!! But, like David, I finally tossed that false reality aside, probably because I discovered the same sort of thing that he did after he sent the ark away...
After Uzzah's death, David decided to stash the ark at a guy name Obed-Edom's house. But, I guess after going back to his palace and recovering from the shock of Uzzah's death, David realized that there was still something missing in the City of David- the glory of the Lord. So when he checked up on Obed-Edom, he found that God had blessed everything the guy had! David was having none of that! Miss out on the Lord's blessing!? No way! This kind of thing is how David earns the "after God's own heart" part of his title. He resolved to finish moving the ark into the city. But this time he got things right- 2 Samuel 6:13 says that the ark was being "carried" and not only that, but after only six steps, David made a sacrifice to the Lord! David was completely determined to give glory to God- by following His rules, and by giving up something of value. But that's not my favorite part...
The best line ever is 2 Samuel 6:14 "David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might." I LOVE this!! Another reminder of my brother, who sometimes says, "you can never be overdressed," ;) Not in this case, brother! David, on this occasion, thought that his royal garments would inhibit him from doing what he was determined to do- dance before the Lord!! And not just dance, dance with all his might! I can only imagine David, whose heart had been enchanted by the Holy One, dancing around like a mad-man before the Lord, genuinely expressing His JOY over His presence manifested in the ark!
But not everyone was pleased with David's dancing. One of his wives- Saul's daughter, in fact, Michal, told him that his dance was common and vulgar- not befitting of a king. Sound familiar, folks? Have you ever been determined to worship the Lord- through song, or praise, or dancing, or writing, or prayer, or speaking the truth in love- and someone has come along and said, "Ummm, You need to tone that down a notch. It's not reverent." Reverence- sometimes very real and very necessary. Sometimes a code word excuse for a luke-warm heart toward the Lord. He knows the difference. And so does the worshiper. David knew that his heart was pure before the Lord, but that it was also full of JOY that needed to be expressed! So his response to Michal was perfect- "It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over Isreal- I will celebrate before the Lord." Go David!!
Yesterday I talked about singing. Today, dancing. Because a word recently came to me- "Not rejoicing is as much a sin as not repenting." If you are in Christ Jesus, then you have reason to dance for JOY. He has made a clear path between you and the Almighty, and, friend, you feel free to dance right along it.
But know that other people won't appreciate it. In fact, they'll question you. They'll accuse you. They'll attack you. They'll put you down. And when they do? Just dance. Dance with all your might. Celebrate before the Lord. Because He is worthy.
I love my Lord. I love His freedom and His truth. I love Light and Deliverance, Restoration and Healing. I am for those things because I am for Him. And, if I have to dance around in my underoos like David to show Him just how much I love Him, then I will- with all my might!!