That’s all they could go. When King David brought the Ark of the Lord into Jerusalem, lifted on the shoulders of priests, they could only carry this holiest of structures six paces before having to sacrifice an ox and fatted lamb. (2 Samuel 6:13)
Imagine carrying a structure so holy that one touch meant instant death! (2 Samuel 6:6-7) Think about the achingly slow process of repeated sacrifices to cleanse and cover the sins of the priestly party before continuing on in the journey. In just six simple paces, human flesh had managed to defile itself once again, and the Holiness of the Lord requires complete purity. Repeated sacrifices and repeated bloodshed for a temporary covering of sin.
When the Ark finally entered the city of Jerusalem, David made it a celebration of worship. He didn’t just invite the dignitaries. No, not King David. Do you ever feel that the best celebrations require a backstage pass? You get the best seat at the table … if your name is well known. You get a place of honor … if you are considered influential, a person to whom others look up to in respect. Have you ever walked by a formal party at a fancy restaurant and peered inside? Everyone is dressed in their finest clothing, sparkling crystal in hand, and a colorful array of delectable food adorns expensive china plates. That’s what it feels like to look in from the outside while the party goes on without you.
But David – the favored, handpicked and anointed king of Israel, didn’t require tickets or a name of prominence to be invited to this celebration. He invited everyone, the “whole magnitude” of Israel — including the women – to share in one of the biggest events in the history of faith — ushering God’s holy presence into the city. David delighted in bringing the presence of the Lord to the people. ALL of the people, not just the dignitaries.
And here is the best part: David didn’t sit up from above and look down as the people celebrated. Oh, no, he joined in with them, “the commoners” or “base fellows,” as his wife Michal, the daughter of Saul, called them. This mighty king jumped into the celebration with the people, literally spinning in dance. (2 Samuel 6:14) and mind you, he took off his kingly robes, too. You see in David’s eyes, there would be no other king to be honored that day. There was only One Whose presence dwelt between the cherubim of the Ark. Yes, David was a man who knew how to worship God in freedom, spirit and truth.
When you surrender your dignity in worship — as David did as he danced and whirled without his kingly attire –you are choosing to lay down your nobility, your esteemed position, or perhaps your prominent image, to worship God in freedom. David worshiped the Lord with every ounce of his being. His worship was undignified. That’s the kind of worship ushers in the very presence of God.
When you experience a selfless freedom in worship, one that ushers in the presence of God, you will find that it will either draw others in, much like a moth is drawn to a bright flame, or alienate them in fear. Expect to get attacked. To David, the attack came from his wife, Michal, daughter of Saul, when she looked down on David and “despised him in her heart.”
“How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (2 Samuel 6:20)
Michal didn’t like what she saw. She was too carried away in her own presence, her own position above the people, to jeopardize looking “undignified” or out of control. You need to know that when God’s spirit descends, no man can control it. He comes like a wind that cannot be contained. Forget control in the presence of God! When I enter into the presence of God, I can barely sing! (Not a good thing for a someone leading worship!) I can’t force God to show up in a powerful way. God will do what God will do. When I happen upon a mountain and experience God’s presence, I can only wrap it around me and rejoice!
God is searching for people who will worship him in Spirit and in truth. (John 4:23) Why can we become “undignified” as we watch sporting events, reality shows, and when shopping at a good sale at the mall, and not jump for joy when singing about God’s ability to raise the dead and forever cleanse our fatally flawed flesh? Listen, there is nothing “ho hum” about worship!
Here is the truth: Coming together to sing praises is no different than ushering the Ark into Jerusalem. We are calling for and ushering in the mighty, holy presence of God. The Most Holy. The One who could hit the smite button at any moment, and yet His love is so powerful for us that He doesn’t. The God Who calls us by name and gave His Own Son to pave the way back to Him. To be purified and cleansed forever. No, we don’t need a sacrificial cleansing every six paces. We are forever cleansed and covered by the blood of the Lamb of God.
Isn’t that worth celebrating? I think it is. So go ahead, be undignified! Dance and shout, whirl if you will, and celebrate the One Who has set us free!