I love the story of King David dancing in 2 Samuel 6 when the ark of the covenant is brought into Jerusalem. David’s heart of worship is on full display, overflowing into passionate dancing and celebration.
Learning from Davidic Worship
This story provides worship leaders (and all worshippers for that matter) with a challenging example of:
1. Worship that is total (2 Samuel 6:14)
And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod.
David didn’t hold back. Here is the King of Israel, a strong man, a visible man, a well-known man, and he’s so consumed with what good things God has done that he’s dancing (picture this …) “with all his might.” And as if that’s not enough, he’s “wearing a linen ephod.” One commentary I read described a linen ephod as “form fitting.” There’s a mental image for you. David’s total worship is a challenge to us, who are so often so reserved and so self-conscious that we worship God in a bullet-proof cage of self-conscious reservation.
2. Worship that draws scorn (2 Samuel 6:20)
Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out to meet David and said, ‘How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!’
You can hear the contempt dripping from Michal’s words. She heaps condemnation and scorn upon David for his public display of worship. There is a lesson here: Heartfelt, expressive worship will often make you look stupid in some people’s eyes. But this can be a good thing for us to experience. Because we’re in good company, thanks to David. Am I more like David in my worship, or more like Michal? Do I worship with a childlike love for Jesus, or a crusty old stiffness? I want the former and I hope you do too.
3. Worship that is God-centered (2 Samuel 6:21)
And David said to Michal, ‘It was before the LORD…’
David’s worship is God-centered. And because it’s God centered, he doesn’t care what people think of him. How much is our worship confined because of our self-consciousness or others-consciousness? Maybe it’s because: “I don’t like to sing. I don’t like this song. I can’t clap. I’m a guy; guys don’t clap. No one else is lifting their hands. I don’t want to be the hand-raiser.” The list goes on. When our worship is God-centered, then like David, we can worship with abandon.
4. Worship that is always growing deeper (2 Samuel 6:22)
I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.
I don’t know about you, but on the scale of “undignified-ness,” dancing with all your might in a form-fitting linen ephod is pretty high up there. Not for David. There’s still room for him to grow. How about for us? How often (if ever) do we go outside our self-defined safe zones in worship? Are we seeking to grow in expressiveness, in articulating heart-felt praise and gratefulness to God? David is an example to us of a man who sought to grow in worship, not settle down in a safe zone.
This post could stop here, and many times when I’ve taught on this text, my messages have indeed stopped here. And the main point is, “Worship harder! Lift your hands more! Don’t be so self-conscious! Be more like David!”
But that’s missing the point.
It misses that David’s worship in 2 Samuel 6 is pointing us to Jesus’ perfect worship.
Because David, the shepherd-king who worshipped God with abandon and joyfulness, is pointing to Jesus, the true and greater David, the true and greater Shepherd-King, who perfectly worshipped his Father with abandon and joyfulness, and became so undignified as to lay down his life for his sheep on the cross.