– Isaiah 61:1b-3c
"As the Box was being brought into the city, Michal, Saul's daughter, looked out of the window and saw King David dancing and jumping around in the sacred dance, and she was disgusted with him. Afterward, when David went home to greet his family, Michal came out to meet him. 'The king of Israel made a big name for himself today!' she said. 'He exposed himself like a fool in the sight of the servant women of his officials!'
David answered, 'I was dancing to honor the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and his family to make me the leader of his people Israel. And I will go on dancing to honor the Lord, and will disgrace myself even more.'"
- 2 Samuel 6:12b-22 (GNT, excerpts)
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To fully appreciate what was going on in King David's head, we first need to rewind about three months, where there's quite a different scene being played out.
The "Covenant Box" -- you know, the Ark of the Covenant ... the Indiana Jones thing -- had been captured in battle quite some time ago by Israel's arch-enemies, the Philistines, who had then reluctantly given it back after God struck them with a plague. Since then, it had been sitting in a sort of prolonged quarantine at Abinadab's house, while Israel went through a period of mourning and licking their wounds.
What King David needed was a morale-booster event, and he knew just the thing. He would be the One Who Brought Back the Box! He'd lead a pompous procession to outshine all other pompous processions ... ushering the Covenant Box back to its rightful place in Jerusalem. So, David had convened 30,000 noble men for the occasion, along with a marching orchestra with himself at the head -- most likely playing the finest of instruments, and most likely singing, in five-part harmony, ceremonious psalms that he himself had written for the occasion -- as he solemnly led the procession from Abinadab's house.
To make a long story short ... well, in fact, God did make the long story short! The somber procession which, though well intentioned, was both illegal and ill-conceived, quickly came to a tragic end. In His eternal righteousness, God was forced to cut it short with a lightning bolt from heaven, resulting in the death of one of Abinadab's sons, Uzzah, who was driving the ox-cart. Ox-cart?? Yeah, that was the illegal part: because God's Law strictly laid out the method for transporting His holy Covenant Box. It was to be borne by the priestly class, not the beastly class.
But ill-conceived? Though a bit more subtle, King David "got it." See, his morale-booster event was all about HIM -- David -- leading HIS procession, leading HIS music, with the Covenant Box meekly following the oxen back to its assigned place in HIS capital.
But something snapped in King David's brain (and heart) that day. Call it a God-snap ... something like that white-hot lightning bolt he'd witnessed! And NOW, fast-forward three months later, and he was ready to try this thing again. To get it RIGHT this time!
"The LORD has anointed Me ... To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them ... the oil of joy for mourning." That's our Lord's own heart for his people, and that's the heart we see in David when it comes time for the Parade Sequel, in 2 Samuel chapter 6, starting at verse 12 -- this time bringing up the Covenant Box from Obed's house instead of Abinadab's.
He'd come to realize that it wasn't all about David himself, but about God Himself. Yes, the idea of a morale-booster was born in his heart by God Himself. God was turning Israel's page from the failed reign of King Saul to a new beginning with David. From oppression to praise. From MOURNING to JOY.
This called, not for a solemn procession, but a wild parade! God was figuratively bringing back the captivity of Israel, breaking the yoke of the Philistines from their neck, and turning their mourning into dancing! Sure, there was music this time, but it was music you could really rock to.
And rock they all did! Back to our lead-in Scripture, we now see David rocking it out in front of them all, not seeking to make himself the hero, but rather wildly praising God -- the True Hero of the day. Cross-referencing details of this event in 1 Chronicles chapter 16, we understand that David started the parade wearing a fine royal robe, but as things got joyfully hot, he shed the robe and continued with just a linen cloth around his waist, whirling, leaping, and shouting joyful praises to Almighty God, Who had delivered His Covenant Box, and His people, from their mourning.
To grasp the impact of King David's un-kingly behavior -- which left his wife (Saul's daughter) horror-stricken as she observed the parade from the security of her window -- think of "Joe Cool" Montana, greatest of the great, the impeccably-mannered quarterback, ready to throw his historic pass against the Cowboys in January 1982. Montana lines up at the five ... on third down and three ... He's got the ball! Montana rolls right, looking, looking to throw! NFL history is about to be made....
But then something snaps. Joe drops the ball carelessly on the field, sprints over to where the Gold Rush Girls are standing, strips down to his boxers and tee shirt, and leads them in a wild sequence of cheers for the crowd, cheers for the teams, cheers for the love of Football!
You're probably thinking by now how we've strayed a long way from the topic of Isaiah 61. But think again! Our Lord Jesus was anointed "... to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them ... the oil of joy for mourning..." It's HE Who came to turn the page. It's HE Who came to die and atone for our mournful state of Sin, to rise again, and to ascend to the Father's right hand, where He ever lives to make intercession for us. Hallelujah! If that doesn't call for stripping off our three-piece suits and dancing in joy and worship in our undies!... (Well, you get the point. And, maybe your "secret prayer closet" is the place for such exalted worship.)
Christianity is not about church, not about the worship band, nor the choir ... not even about the sermon. (Horrors! Dare we say that?) It's all about Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Deliverer of His people.
Why not pray ...
"Dear Father, thank you for Jesus' triumph over Sin, the Grave, and Mourning. Thank you that -- as 2 Corinthians 2:14 says, 'Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.' Please help me respond with abandon, with a dancing heart to honor the Lord and 'disgrace myself' even more, as King David did, to spread the oil of joy to those around me, and so continue the Isaiah 61 work of my Lord Christ.
In Jesus' name. Amen"
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 11/21/2021.