Undignified: When Worship Gets Real
Posted by: Tres Sansom
Reposition: Dancing Before the Lord
Focus Verse: “I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! But those servant girls you mentioned will indeed think I am distinguished!” 2 Samuel 6:21-22
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 oxen and fattened 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 multitude” 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 servant girls” or “the commoners,” 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, no other king would 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 that 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 “she was filled with contempt for him.” You can hear the sarcasm in her voice as she said:
“How distinguished the king of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!” (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.
In response to Michal’s upbraiding David replied,
“I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! But those servant girls you mentioned will indeed think I am distinguished” (2 Samuel 6:21-22 NLT)!
David was not concerned about what those watching him thought of his worship. He seemed to be more concerned about what God thought. David was shameless in the outward expressions of his passion for God.
As worshipers we should be just as undignified as David in our outward expressions of worship. We may choose to express our worship in a different manner than David, but we should be willing to be shameless and unconcerned about what others choose to think of us.
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!
Step back in time to 2002, and listen to David Crowder’s popular song “Undignified.”
Scripture Meditations for this week: