By Brent Lanigan
Sometimes it feels as if the word worship has become too common in our Christian lexicon. It gets used to describe our praise singing (“We are now going to worship”), our tithing (“Let’s give as an act of worship”), and a style of music (“My favourite music is worship music”). But what really is worship as seen in Scripture? Thankfully, the Bible paints a very clear picture. Join me in exploring the essence of biblical worship over these 5 devotionals.
Part 5: How Does Worshiping God Change Us?
2 Samuel 6:10-12, 14-16, 20-21 – David would not move the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple in Jerusalem. Instead he took it to the house of a man named Obed-Edom. And the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and his family. The people told David, “The Lord has blessed the family of Obed-Edom. This is because the Ark of the Covenant of God is there.” So David went and brought the Ark up from Obed-Edom’s house to Jerusalem with joy. Then David danced with all his might before the Lord. David and all the Israelites shouted with joy. They blew the trumpets as they brought the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord to the city. Michal, David’s wife was looking out the window. When she saw David jumping and dancing before the Lord, she hated him. She said, “The king of Israel did not honor himself today! You took off your clothes in front of the servant girls of your officers. You were like a foolish man who takes off his clothes without shame.” Then David said to Michal, “I did it before the Lord. So I will celebrate in front of the Lord.”
Fascinating Fact: According to the Guinness Book of Records, the longest dance marathon by an individual is 126 hours, and was achieved by Bandana Nepal in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 23 to 28 November 2018. Bandana took on this challenge largely to promote Nepalese music and culture, but it was also a personal challenge as she has been dancing since early childhood. By contrast, the longest dance marathon by a group was “only” 24 hrs, 1 minute set in 2011. Much more fun to dance in a group, don’t you think?
Scripture Study: Today we ask the question: how does worshiping God change us? The answer can be found in the life of David, both in the worship psalms he wrote (e.g. see Part 1, Psalm 29) and in his role as king. When David was newly installed as king of Israel, one of his first priorities was to repatriate the Ark of the Covenant from someone’s home to the Temple in Jerusalem where it rightly belonged. But David did not want to do this quietly. He decided to design a praise party around bringing back this symbol of God’s presence among God’s people.
The Bible says that David danced before the Lord “with all his might” as the Ark was brought into Jerusalem. Can you imagine Queen Elizabeth dancing with all her might in public? That would be a pretty ridiculous spectacle. Why? Because queens and kings are supposed to look and act dignified. But even though David was a new king, he was not caught up with “presenting” well; instead he wanted to show how much he loved God by expressing his worship through dancing. His worship dance was so heartfelt and joyous that his wife thought that it looked too improper for a king to be doing in public. But David did not care. His response? “I will celebrate in front of the Lord” (v. 21). And so David went from being a dignified king one moment to dancing like any old commoner the next, caught up as he was in his joy of worshiping God.
It is evident that David was continually transformed by his steadfast worship of God. You see, David valued worshiping God more than worrying about what people thought about how he worshiped God. And it was because of that attitude that David’s worship transformed him. Not only as a writer of worship psalms but also as the king of Israel. In the same way, if our worship of God is consistently done out of a heart of authenticity and joy like David, we too will be transformed by it; both inside and outwardly, whether that’s raising your hands or perhaps even dancing! All God desires is that we offer him our whole heart in worship and not be self-conscious in how we worship – whether we are isolated at home away from church or among fellow believers. Just so long as it is expressed with an attitude that does not draw attention to ourselves but to God like David did when he said “I did it before the Lord.”
Questions to Discuss
1. Have you ever been tempted to “present well” when worshiping in church?
2. Have you ever been tempted to worship in such a way that draws attention to yourself rather than God?
3. Do you think there are more “proper” forms of worship expression than others?
Thank you God for the many different ways that you have given us to praise you. Help us never to lose the joy of praising you for who you are. Amen.