A Window on Worship (II Samuel 6:12-23)
Topic: II Samuel Passage: 2 Samuel 6:12–6:23
Crying for a King
A Window on Worship
II Samuel 6:12-23
September 1st, 2013
(One Lord: No One Like You)
I. A Worship Quiz
Okay, here’s a simple quiz (of sorts). The topic is worship. I will read you three set of words, and I want you to tell me which ones, which set, in your mind, best fits under the heading of “worship”. Are you ready? Here we go…
Set #1: kneeling, silence, reverence, and tradition.
Set #2: singing, experience, music, and relevant.
Set #3: presence, provision, pleasure, and priesthood.
So which one strikes you as the best fit? We could also ask, “How would most Christians today answer that question?
Well, God is going to help us answer that question this morning as we return to our ongoing study in the book of Samuel. So let’s look together at II Samuel 6, verses 12-23.
I believe what God has given us in these verses is a window on worship. Worship is one of those words that is easily pigeon-holed in Christian circles. But God wants to give us a big view of worship through His word.
And one of the best biblical teachers we could have when it comes to this subject is David, the king of Israel. Remember, 73 of the 150 psalms in the book of the Psalms, the songbook of Israel, 73 were written by David. We know from the Psalms, and from Samuel, and from Chronicles, that David was one of Israel’s most prolific singer-songwriters. More importantly, the content of those psalms tells us that David lived a life of worship.
II. The Passage: “I Will Celebrate before the LORD” (6:12-23)
But as we look at this passage from II Samuel this morning, we will watch David more than we will listen to him. I want you to consider with me what we can learn from David’s actions in this passage about worshiping God. If we are followers of Jesus, if we have experienced His grace in our lives, then of all people, we should understand the importance of the topic of worship. Jesus himself told a Samaritan woman he met by a well…
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)
Wonderfully, Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to worship in this way.
A. Worship: Celebrating God’s Presence (6:12-15)
So let’s explore this subject by looking first at verses 12-15 of chapter 6. Now real quickly, let me remind you about where we left off in our study. David has finally been established as the king over all Israel. Having captured the Jebusite city of Jerusalem, David wanted to bring the Ark of the Covenant up to his new capital.
But the transport of the Ark was handled poorly and irreverently. The priest, the king, the people all minimized God’s holiness and a man died because of it. So instead of bringing the Ark to Jerusalem, David, out of fear and frustration, had the Ark left at the house of a man named Obed-edom. And that’s where we pick up the story in verse 12…
And it was told King David, “The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing.  And when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal.  And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod.  So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn.
So the first thing we are reminded of here is that worship is about celebrating God’s presence.
Once David realizes the error of his ways and that he will not be blasted, but blessed by the Ark, he quickly acts to complete his original plan of bringing the Ark of Jerusalem. But notice the manner in which this movement takes place. Look at these words: “rejoicing” (12), “sacrificed” (13), “danced” (14), “all his might” (14), “shouting” (15), and “sound of the horn” (15). This is like a party, isn’t it? What a celebration!
But what are they celebrating? The relocation of a popular tourist item? The opportunity for Jerusalem to now be a real ‘destination location’? No, they are celebrating, David is celebrating, what the Ark of the Covenant represents. They are celebrating the presence of God among His people. And as Obed-Edom’s household makes clear, there is amazing blessing that comes when God dwells among His people.
Christian, do you celebrate like David celebrated? I’m not talking about the cultural expressions of ram’s horns and dancing and animal sacrifice. But is your worship an expression of spiritual exertion in joyful celebration of God’s presence in your life? Remember the Ark was only a symbol that pointed forward to this reality:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:14, 16)
Jesus is God among us. Because he dwelt among us, God’s Spirit now dwells within us. Listen to this amazing promise from Christ: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23) And when God the Father and God the Son make their home in your heart through God the Spirit, you will blessed, far beyond what Obed-edom experienced because of the Ark.
B. Worship: Giving God’s Provision (6:16-19)
But look at what else we learn from this passage about worship. Look at verses 16-19…
As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, and she despised him in her heart.  And they brought in the ark of the LORD and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it. And David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.  And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts  and distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed, each to his house.
The next thing we learn or are reminded of here is that worship is about giving God's provisions.
Now verse 16 is an important part of this passage, but let's talk about that verse when we look at the final verses of this chapter. Notice what we see here as this Ark procession reaches its destination. When the Ark is finally placed in this temporary tent that David has set up for it, the worship here is very clearly defined by giving, by gifts. And there are two kinds of gifts here: we read about David's gifts to God, AND David's gifts to the people. David is making offerings to God and is offering food to the people.
Now think about this for a minute. If the Ark of the Covenant represents God's special presence among His people, and if God's presence brings blessing to His people (as it did for Obed-edom, right?), then isn't it instructive that David is showing how genuine worship always involves giving back to God and giving to one another, some portion of what He's given you?
Now think about how this reminds us of our worship as followers of Jesus, the Lamb of God who was slain for us. Hebrews 13:15 talks about offering up “a sacrifice of praise to God”. Philippians 4:18 describes financial gifts as “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God”. And Romans 12:1 calls us to offering our own bodies as “living sacrifices...which is your spiritual worship”.
But we also read in the NT about giving gifts to one another in the context of worship. In Ephesians 5:18, 19 we are called to be filled with the Spirit,  addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart...And when Paul gave instructions to the church in Corinth about their times of community or corporate worship, he wrote, What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. (I Corinthians 14:26)
It is very easy to fall into the trap that worship is somehow mainly about me. Oh sure, God is the One we are praising, but I am the one having a 'worship experience'. Yes, we can enjoy our blessings, but God is always calling us to turn those blessings around and bless...to bless His name and be a blessing to our brothers and sisters.
C. Worship: Seeking God’s Pleasure (6:20-23)
But there is something else here. Listen to the final four verses of II Samuel 6. We read...
And David returned to bless his household. But 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!”  And David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD—and I will celebrate before the LORD.  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.”  And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.
The final thing we see here is that worship is first and foremost about seeking God's pleasure.
If we go back to verse 16 we see there that the writer of II Samuel has given us a second 'window on worship'. But this window is literally a window. It's the window from which Michal watches David and the procession as they enter Jerusalem. Notice how verse 16 points us forward to these verses. We learn there that Michal's heart is filled with bitterness when she sees David. And when we get to these final verses, we find that same bitterness, as it spills out of her heart through her words.
What is Michal's complaint? She despises David because she believes he has acted, not like a king, but like some vulgar commoner, like some riff-raff; like a fool. He is jumping around, he is shouting, and he is wearing what, in her opinion, is a completely inappropriate outfit. But wait a minute? Why is Michal getting all worked up about this? Why is everyone celebrating except her? Well, the language of verse 16 is crucial. Look at how the characters are referred to there. He is called “King David” and she is called, “Michal, the daughter of Saul”. He is not simply “David, her husband” and she is not simply “Michal, his wife...his first wife”.
Now, Michal has been through a lot. Like David, she has also suffered. At one time, she loved David. But when David's life was threatened, Michal helped him escape. And then all those years of David being on the run. And then she was given to another man, to be his wife. And then, when David returns, she is taken from that man, and sent to David as part of some political wheeling and dealing. Finally, she is now one of many wives that belong to David.
But her label here, “Michal, the daughter of Saul”, this is the key to understanding her heart. You see, Michal's father, Saul, always sought the pleasure of the people. He wanted to look the part of a king. And he valued public approval so highly that he was willing to reject God's commands. As David explains to her, his worship was not for the sake of any person in the processional. Their opinions, her opinion, does not really matter in terms of worship. Verse 21, David danced “before YHWH”...he “celebrate[d] before the LORD”.
You see, Michal misses the wonder of God's presence among His people because she is too worried about David doing it the 'RIGHT' way, about what is proper. She is too self-absorbed, too concerned about what others think, and too defined by worldly categories.
But David's worship is driven by what is pleasing to God. He sings, he shouts, he dances, he sacrifices, he distributes, he blesses, he does all of it for God's pleasure. Is that what drives your worship? It's easy to be like Michal. How? It's easy to distance ourselves and turn worship into something that only happens on Sundays, and then, into something that has to be done just 'right', or else it is “boring” and “stuffy”, or “worldly” and “irreverent”.
But worship is so much bigger than that, and it's that bigness, that wide perspective, that fuels our worship together on Sunday mornings.
III. The Best Worship Leader in Town
What have we seen this morning? We've seen that the flame of worship is sparked by a recognition and appreciation of God's presence among us. And when we grasp WHO it is among us, we celebrate with spiritual exertion! But that exertion also leads to giving, just as we've received. We give back to God...praise, service, money, even our whole body. And we also give to one another...encouragement, blessings, love. And we do all of that for God's pleasure; we live before an audience of one.
When Jesus spoke to that woman by a well in Samaria, He knew then that only He could make “spirit and truth” worship a reality. Why? Because as Romans 1 tells us, we have no problem being worshipers. What we cannot get right is the object of our worship. We are worship-warpers. We are praise-perverters. Paul writes...
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools,  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:21-23)
But even in II Samuel 6 there is a preview of something wonderful up ahead. Do you see Jesus in this passage? He's right there at the end of verse 14: And David was wearing a linen ephod. The ephod was a piece of clothing, but it was a piece of clothing that is always associated in the OT with priesthood, and in the overwhelming majority of cases in which this word is used, with the priesthood of Israel. So why does the author point out what David is wearing? What do we see David doing here? We see him involved in the priestly work of offering sacrifices and blessing the people.
But wait a minute. David was from the tribe of Judah, not from the tribe of Levi, from which the priests came. But remember the location. This is Jerusalem! David has just captured the city and made it his new capital. Now before David, there is another king of Jerusalem named in the Bible, in Genesis 14. His name was Melchizedek. And interestingly, he is described as both a king AND “a priest of God Most High”. Now when you fast forward in the Bible to Psalm 110, we learn that a future king of Israel, one that David wrote about, would in fact be a priest in the order of Melchizedek.
And did you know that Psalm 110:1 is the most quoted OT verse in the NT? Psalm 110 is without a doubt a psalm about Jesus Christ. And Hebrews 7 confirms that Jesus is in fact that priest from the order of Melchizedek. He is the greatest of all priests, He is the perfect High Priest for all who trust in His intercession.
And so David's ephod and David's worship point us to Jesus who leads us in worship. He leads us away from the empty worship of created things like money and power and sex and reputation and security and comfort and success, and He leads us to worshiping the Creator in spirit and truth.
God has given us an amazing window on worship this morning. What have you seen? How will God use it in your life? Let's pray and ask God to help us to break free from our fleshly worship categories and focus on the ideas of presence, provision, and pleasure...in light of Christ's perfect priesthood.