“David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim. They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio,[a] the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.” (II Samuel 6:1-5)
Dance and body movements can be a vital part of worship. Historically, Mennonites had not included dance in worship services. But around the time I came into young adulthood that was changing. As I recall, “liturgical dance” was deliberate and the movements signified or were supposed to signify something. Symbolism was very important because, well, you couldn’t just “dance” and say it was worship. The Jewish faith, which is also a slice of my heritage, was much more accepting of dance. It was done out of exuberance and joy in celebrating love of God and God’s love for us. It was not meant to symbolism anything except for celebration. And this is was King David and “all of the house of Israel” doing.
“So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.” (Verses 12b-15)
This dance of David’s was not the “liturgical dance” of the Mennonites. It was even more than the more “modern” dance of Jewish men and women. It was a whirling dervish all out body, hands, arms, legs physical exertion of a young man who was filled with joy and excitement at bringing back the physical manifestation of the presence of God. And not all of “the house of Israel” was pleased at David’s exuberance.
“As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.” (Verse 16)
I wonder how many of us would be willing to act foolish and risk censure in praise of God. We are reminded of how people stand up for their faith and suffer for their faith. But would people be ready to look foolish before others, and cavort around in an outlandish fashion for their faith?
It is not clear in this passage who Michal is to David. I seem to remember something about the daughter of Saul being given as David’s wife in first Samuel. But I am not sure that marriage lasted because Saul also gave Michal to someone else as that man’s wife. So perhaps her extreme dislike of David was not just because of his behavior during this celebration.
As Christians, our behavior is often scrutinized by non-believers and those who believe differently than us. So “acting out” in faith and because of our faith can be good and not so good at times. When we do good and worthy things because of our faith, we can win people to God. But when we do what is unworthy or shameful, although our intentions may be good, we can turn people from God.
“They brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the Lord. When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.” (Verses 17-19)
This is a complex issue, in as much as King David’s life was a complex issue. Called by God to be king and upheld as a man of God. Yet doing much that was against God’s direction and guidance. I suspect there will be more that can be gleaned from King David’s life.
May you, beloved reader, follow all of God’s leadings and directions, how ever it may reflect on you. Selah!