************ Sermon on 2 Samuel 6:21 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on August 7, 2005
2 Samuel 6
2 Samuel 6:21
"A Fool for the Lord"
David danced before the Lord with all his might. His wife watched from a window and despised him in her heart.
When I read this story in the Bible I cannot help but think of what Paul writes in his first letter to the church at Corinth about being a fool for the Lord. Paul writes,
(1Cor 1:27-28) But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (28) He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are ...
David was a fool for the Lord. It becomes obvious that David chose to act this way. That he was a fool on purpose. That he made a decision to do what he did.
Why did David act this way? What does his behavior mean? And, what can we say about the disdain or disgust of his wife?
I The Ark of the Covenant
A David was a fool for the Lord. The occasion for his behavior was the bringing of the ark of God into Jerusalem.
To understand David's behavior we need to understand the place and function of the ark in Israel.
During the 40 years Israel spent wandering in the wilderness the ark guided the pilgrims. Israel did not go anywhere or do anything without the ark leading the way. The ark even led Israel in battle (Num. 10:33,35-36). One time Israel went into battle without the ark; she attacked the Amalekites and Canaanites even though the ark stayed in the camp. The result was defeat in battle (Num 14:39-45). When we look through the prophets and the psalms, we see there that the ark was regarded as the throne of God, or his footstool (Jeremiah 3:16-17; Ps. 132:7-8).
The ark, then, led the people. It was regarded as the throne of God here on earth. What it comes down to is this: the ark was the symbol of God's presence. It was the symbol of the presence of the holy God, the awesome God, the mighty God, the creating and covenanting God. As such, the ark was clearly the most important object within the tabernacle and, later, within the temple.
B The story in front of us needs to be seen as the continuation of the story of chapters 4-6 of First Samuel. If you remember, the wicked sons of Eli took the ark into battle. When Israel was defeated, the ark was captured by the Philistines (1 Sam 4). The ark was taken into the Philistine city of Ashdod and placed in the temple of and before the statue of the pagan god Dagon. Remember how the next morning the statue of Dagon was on its face on the ground in front of the ark of the Lord? From Ashdod the ark was brought to Gath. The people there were afflicted with tumors. From Gath the ark was brought to Ekron and death filled that city with panic. These stories serve to show us the strength and glory of the Lord of the ark.
In a panic, the Philistines sent the ark back to Israel upon a new cart pulled by milk cows. The men of Bethshemesh welcomed the return of the ark, until they unwisely violated its holiness by looking into it (1 Sam. 6:13-15,19-20). Then it was carried to Kiriath-Jearim, where it remained forgotten and neglected for some 80 years.
Imagine that: the symbol of God's presence among His people was forgotten and ignored; the symbol of God's leading and protecting care was forgotten and ignored.
II David Celebrates Before the Lord
A It is King David who takes the ark and brings it to the tabernacle in Jerusalem. After some 80 years of neglect it is David who restores the ark to its rightful place at the center of Israel's faith life and worship.
As David brings the ark into Jerusalem, look at what he all did. Six steps into the journey he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. Casting aside his outer clothing and wearing only an ephod, David leaped and danced with all his might. He led the people with shouts and the sound of trumpets. He sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. He blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. He gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates, and a cake of raisins to each person in the crowd.
B Why does David act this way? Why does he act like a wild and crazy man? Why does he act so excitedly? Why does he act like a fool by dancing, we can say, in his underwear? Is he a flasher, an exhibitionist? Is he a show off in front of slave girls who are watching? Is he a vulgar fellow?
Our text tells us that David did all this "before the LORD." David celebrated before the Lord. David leaped and danced before the Lord. David acted like a fool before the Lord. David acted like a crazy man before the Lord. David acted like a child before the Lord.
"Before the Lord." That's the key to understanding David's actions in our passage. David, you see, was in pursuit of God. He wanted to experience God's presence, God's person, God's being. His intent was to bring praise, worship, honor, and glory to God. He wanted to get God and keep God front and center in the life of his kingdom. He wanted to make his kingdom the kingdom of God here on earth. He wanted to experience the power and blessings of God. He wanted to have a time of worship with God.
David did what he did "before the Lord." So he leaped and danced wearing only an ephod. So he shouted and blew trumpets. So he acted like a fool.
In his love and zeal for the Lord, David threw all reason and all caution and all restraint to the wind. He lost himself in his worship of God. He put aside his human pride and dignity. He put aside his royal robes and crown. He put aside the honor and respect of his office. He put it all aside. He put it all aside to lose himself in his worship of God.
C Have you ever done that? Have you ever done something for the Lord Jesus regardless of how you looked or what others said? Have you ever been a fool for the Lord? Have you ever totally lost yourself in the worship of God?
What happens in our circles when people lose themselves in the worship of God? Those people sing out with heart and soul and mouth while others barely open their mouths. They are so intent on the worship of God that they aren't distracted by every little noise around them. Their focus is on God and not on the people around them. Their mouths praise God rather than give a critique on every part of the service or gossip about who is coming in or out. Like David, their focus is God.
I read this past week about an incident in the life of the Italian poet Dante.
Topic: WorshipDante had lost himself in the worship of God.
Dante was deeply immersed in meditation during a church service and failed to kneel at the proper moment. His enemies hurried to the bishop and demanded that Dante be punished for his sacrilege. Dante defended himself by saying, "If those who accuse me had their eyes and minds on God, as I had, they too would have failed to notice events around them, and they most certainly would not have noticed what I was doing."
What happens when we lose ourselves in the worship of God? Without doubt, those are the greatest moments of our lives. How stirred I am those times when the walls and ceiling seem to be in the way of our praises. In such moments we begin to understand we were created, saved, and sanctified for the worship of God. Then we understand that real living is praising God. Then we understand that the meaning of life is found in God. Then we understand that our worship is before the Lord.
D God's people are to be this way not only with worship but also with every aspect of life. All that we do, all that we have, all that we are, is to be done before the Lord. All that we do, all that we have, all that we are, is to be an offering to the Lord Jesus. In all that we do, in all that we have, in all that we are, we are to be fools for the Lord.
I remember a meeting in which we talked with a fund-raising expert about Christian school finances. The expert suggested we could raise a lot of money by holding a raffle for a house. He wondered why he was met with a stony silence. I informed him that we are opposed in principle to raffles. His response: "I am sure your principles will change when dollars are involved." But before the Lord we stick to Biblical principles of stewardship.
There is a lot of pressure put on teenagers and adult singles today to engage in pre-marital sex. Usually the guy pressures the girl with the line, "If you love me you will ..." Let me tell you, any guy or girl who talks this way isn't worth it and does not love you; rather, the only one they love is themselves. And, in certain circles there is a lot of pressure to try drugs and alcohol. "Go ahead, you will like it. Everyone is doing it." But before the Lord we stick to Biblical standards of purity.
I was talking to someone about the money our people give for Christian Education and for the church budget. They looked shocked. It is a lot of money. Even with the expense of Christian Education most of our people give more to the church budget in one month than most people of most other churches give to their church budget in a year. But before the Lord we give like we do and strive to give even more.
Why is it that so many Christians continue to fight, pray, protest, and write against abortion? Many think that we rock the boat and destroy the peace. But we do it before the Lord.
I am always amazed at all the volunteers we have for the church, for the Christian schools, and for various kingdom causes and organizations. Every week we have people who attend meetings, prepare lessons, go on outings, present a program, play the piano or organ, write letters, attend fund-raising activities, and make a busy life even busier. We have Christian school teachers and kingdom workers who could make a lot more money by working in another job. Why do we do all this? We do it before the Lord.
III The Opposition of the World
A Did you notice the reaction of David's wife to his behavior before the Lord? Scripture tells us that when she saw what David did "she despised him in her heart." That is why she rebuked David when he returned home.
Michal, being Saul's daughter, was raised in a palace, in the king's home. She has a very clear idea of what constitutes proper decorum and etiquette and behavior. She knows how royals are supposed to act. All her life she has been forced to maintain royal dignity and honor.
What David does offends her royal dignity and pride. Exhibitionists and show-offs may leap and dance in an ephod, but kings do not. The lower classes, what she calls "vulgar fellows," may shout and blow trumpets, but royals do not. Those who wear purple robes and golden crowns should always act with dignity and carry themselves with regal bearing. They should always act with restraint. They do not let themselves get carried away before the masses.
Michal could not understand David doing what he did before the Lord.
B Michal's response reminds us that the world continually opposes those who do what they do before the Lord. Using the words of Paul, the world dismisses those with commitment and dedication as being fools.
Consider, for a moment, how the media depicts those for whom religion is very important. It depicts them, it depicts us, as being fanatics. Those, for instance, who oppose abortion are often presented as right-wing crazies who kill doctors and bomb abortion clinics. Those who oppose sex outside of marriage are often presented as narrow-minded prudes who are opposed to all fun.
What happened to David eventually happens to everyone who does what he does before the Lord: the world opposes us or mocks us. But, like David, we do it anyway. For what God thinks is far more important than what man thinks.
I want you to take a look at your life. Think about the activities that fill a normal week. Tell me, how much of what you do, do you do before the Lord? Tell me, do you do things before the Lord regardless of how you look or what others say?
My hope and my prayer is that in all times and in all things we do what we do before the Lord.
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