Lectionary: 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19, Psalm 24, Amos 7:7-15; Psalm 85:8-13; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:14-29
So among the dilemmas I faced back in the summer of 2015 was that Don Henley, one of the most recognizable voices of The Eagles, was releasing a new solo album that September – but it was an album of country music which is not a preference of mine. I downloaded it anyway and enjoyed it very much. Recently I have been re-listening to the album.
One particular day last week I was in the garage by myself listening to one of the songs, Where I Am Now: eyes closed, ear plugs plugged, head lolling to the rhythm, hands and feet air-banding at an imaginary drum kit in front of an imaginary crowd while my very real phone warned me about the dangers of extended high volumes of music.
That’s when it happened: I opened my eyes briefly from my rockabilly induced trance and saw my wife standing, looking at me… She simply smiled and said, ‘I see you’re enjoying your music; way to go’ and went back inside. She is very kind to me.
But my point is that I wasn’t really embarrassed (too much): first, because it’s a good song; second, I was enjoying myself.
In this Scripture narrative, King David is able to bring home the ark of the Covenant from their enemies (yes, that Ark of the Covenant) and he is beside himself with joy. Except David didn’t air band drums and cymbals – he danced wildly in some sort of loin cloth.
14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment.15 So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns.
16 But as the Ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she was filled with contempt for him.
20 When David returned home to bless his own family, Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out to meet him. She said in disgust, “How distinguished the king of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!”
21 David retorted to Michal, “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. 22 Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes!
Can you imagine that scene? David was so out of his mind joyful that he literally made a fool of himself gyrating and cartwheeling down the street without caring what people thought. I love the real personalities of the Bible.
I understand that life is stressful and hectic and necessarily so if we want to make our way through it, but is that all there is?
In recent Christian history there has been a focus on leaving this world after death and ‘getting to heaven’ to enjoy the peace and rest of the next life but that has not always been the case. In fact, you will find that the Bible itself isn’t as concerned with future life as it is with embracing the here and now – living our gift of life on this beautiful planet within whatever circumstances we’ve been given while joying in the love of God.
When we embrace, internalize, God’s voice vibrating inside us, we live in a sense of fullness and joy. The joy may or may not cause dance but it will bubble to the surface at the least expected times. The prophet Isaiah wrote it like this:
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
What should be priorities in my life?
Do I find time for the things that give me real joy?
If you are a church person: Are my worship and church activities filling me with real joy?
If you are not a church person: Do my worship and activities fill me with real joy?
For both: Does the thought, experience of God bring me higher, transcendent joy? What to make of that?
1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
2 for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.
3 Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.
5 They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Savior.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.
7 Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
he is the King of glory.
(A Psalm of David – Psalm 24, NLT)