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Sunday, March 30, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "The Right Way to Worship"

“The Right Way to Worship”
The LORD Is My Rock: The Message of 2 Samuel
March 30, 2014 :: 2 Samuel 6:1-23

Two weeks ago, David became king over all Israel.

And last week, we saw what David’s new kingdom was like: promised, powerful, and prosperous.

David’s power grew and he conquered Jerusalem and made it his capital. The City of David.

It seemed like everything David touched at that time turned to gold.

And now in chapter 6, David believes that it’s high time to bring the ark of the covenant up to Jerusalem, as well.

This is a momentous occasion, because it will bring together the monarchy, the capital city, and the center of worship all into one place.

David is trying to unite the kingdom and center it on the presence of God.

Because that’s what the ark symbolized.

You remember the ark, right?

The ark was very important in the early chapters of 1 Samuel.

And, if the scholars have it right, it’s languished in the city of Kiriath Jearim for about 60 years!

But now, David is going to do something about it.

He’s going to bring the ark up to Jerusalem. And that’s a very big deal.

We’ll see how it goes.

Now, as you can see from the back of your bulletin, I’ve entitled this message, “The Right Way to Worship.”

Because there is a wrong way and a right way to worship.

Worship is not just “as we please.”

I remember a few years ago, I was trying to help a needy person buy a new mattress. Hers was flea-bitten and nearly destroyed.

And I invited her to church here with us. And she said, “I prefer to worship God in my own way.”

And I didn’t say it then, but I thought it later, “Wouldn’t it smarter to worship God in His own way?”

I think that’s the application of this story to our lives today. It reveals the right way to worship by also showing us the wrong way.

Because David knows that this “bringing up of the ark” is a big deal and a time to worship.

2 Samuel chapter 6. Verse 1.

“David again brought together out of Israel chosen men, thirty thousand in all. He and all his men set out from Baalah of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark.”

Stop there for a second and let those numbers sink in.

David is going to bring up the ark (v.2), and he gets a group of chosen men. Thirty thousand of them.

I’ve never noticed that number before. They are not going into battle. They are going into a worship service.

They are the military procession fitting for moving the ark from one location to another.

In other words, David is “doing it” up big-time.

Because this is the “ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark.”

This is the early throne of God. It symbolizes (it’s just a symbol. We learned before that you cannot put our God in a box, but it’s a powerful symbol) of the presence of God.

He is enthroned between the two cherubim angels on top of the ark. Symbolically, he sits there and rules from between them.

This gold covered box contains the original 10 commandments (at least the second copy, the one that Moses did not smash). It includes the staff of Aaron that budded. It stands for the covenant, the relationship between God and His people. The top of it is called the atonement cover or the mercy seat.  It stands for the reconciliation that the sacrifices provide making things right between God and man.

This box is so connected to God, that it is (v.2) called by the Name.

It stands for God. It is not God, but it stands for God.

So this is a big deal. 30,000 men in a parade to bring it to its new home in Jerusalem. V.3

“They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill.”

Now, what just a second. Here’s where the story goes wrong.

It looks like David is respecting the ark. There are all of these troops. And there is a brand new cart to move the ark along.

However! Are you supposed to use a cart to move the ark?

No. The law given by God to Moses had very strict instructions, rules, for how the ark was to be transported. And it involved Levites with poles carrying it on their shoulders.

So, there is a disregard here for the law given by God. Middle of verse 3.

“Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it.

David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals.”

I don’t know what a sistrum was, do you?

Whatever it is, they are rocking now!  This is a quite the worship service.

They’ve got the full band, and everybody is rocking along, singing a song, playing their instrument, giving it their all.

Have you ever been in a worship service that was really enthusiastic...

...but there was something missing?

Lots of music, even “worship music” does not equal lots of true worship.

Not if the hearts are in the wrong place.

And there is a disregard going on here for the holiness of God.

Now, you probably know what happens next.  The ox pulling the cart stumble. V.6

“When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The LORD's anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.”

What?!

Uzzah was just trying to help!

The ark was going to fall.

But he wasn’t supposed to touch it.

And God is holy.

No matter how rocking the worship band is, if we don’t treat God as holy, then our worship is just a bunch of noise.

What’s the right way to worship?

#1. WITH HOLY FEAR.

There was plenty of warning before Uzzah’s bad choice.

The law was clear. God didn’t want anyone to die! That’s why He gave them detailed instructions about dealing with holy things.

But David’s crew ignored the instructions and Uzzah dared to grab the ark.

Now, if Uzzah loved the Lord, he went to heaven.

But you can’t just worship God however you feel like it.

We need to worship God with holy fear.

And that’s not just for Old Testament believers.

We don’t have the ark today, never mind what you see on Indiana Jones.

But we have the same God today as they worshiped then.

The New Testament says, “live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” That’s 1 Peter 1:17. “Reverent fear.”

Hebrews 10 says, “let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’” Reverence and awe.

Holy fear.

There is a lot of triviality in worship today. Treating God as a small thing, a light thing, a warm and fuzzy thing.

But we forget, to our peril, about God’s “lethal holiness.” (Dale Ralph Davis, pg. 76)

Yes, God’s wrath is consumed by the sacrifice of Christ, so there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

No, we don’t have to worry that if we somehow pray or sing wrong at church on Sunday that God will strike us dead on the spot.

But that doesn’t mean that we should call God, “The Man Upstairs” or make light of Him or treat Him as a small thing that we can safely ignore or put on the shelf between Sundays.

Or stop paying attention to what He wants.

Remember, worship is not just a Sunday thing. It’s a 24-7 thing.

We can worship Him wrongly by not treating Him as holy the other 6 days of our week.

God is not cute.

God is holy, and if we want to worship Him rightly, we will worship in holy fear.

Reverence and awe.

David got mad. V.8

“Then David was angry because the LORD's [anger] wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.”

Who’d David get mad at?

Some people think it was the LORD, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense. God is just doing what is right.

Maybe he was mad at Uzzah.

But my guess is that he was mad at himself because he knew that he was responsible.

“Oh, I should have followed the law. I should have obeyed the Lord. Oh, I should have led my team to worship with holy fear. What have I done?”

Last week, the Lord broke out against the Philistines.

Now, he’s broken out against the Israelites who have not revered Him rightly. V.9

“David was afraid [not just angry, afraid] of the LORD that day and said, ‘How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?’ [I’ve messed up.] He was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.”

David is scared that he’s flunked worship for good and that the ark will never reside in Jerusalem.

And that’s a good thing.

It’s right for David to be concerned. He’s thinking now, not just feeling.

Worship is a thinking thing. It involves our feelings, but it starts with our thoughts.  What we think about God is important.

“Is God done with me now?”

The answer is no.  v.11

“The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household. Now King David was told, ‘The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.’ So David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing.”

He tries again.

And, this time, he does it right. V.13

“When those who were carrying the ark of the LORD had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf.”

Six steps?!  1-2-3-4-5-6. Sacrifice.

For 10 miles!

And notice that there is no ox cart. “Those who were carrying the ark.”  1 Chronicles 15 tells us that they were doing it, this time, as they should.

Taking God seriously. Worshiping with holy fear.

Is there anything you need to adjust in your worship, either on Sundays or daily, to make sure that you are worshiping with reverence and awe and not slappy dappy happy sappy?

Now, I think it’s interesting that David makes sacrifices and (v.14) dresses in linen ephod, which was a priestly kind of garment, whatever it looked like.

David is not a Levite, and he does not sacrifice in the temple. He does not act as a Levite.

Perhaps all this means is that he directed these kind of sacrifices to happen.

But I also wonder (following some stuff I read this week in the commentaries) if he didn’t see himself as a different kind of priest. Maybe like a priest in the order of Melchizedek?  As ruler of Jerusalem like Melchizedek was?  It’s possible.

We’ll see that he’s also blessing people like a priest does.

King and Priest together(?)–that has possibilities to think about.

However it works, this time it’s right. It’s reverent. And it’s also joyful. V.14

“David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.”

Verse 12 said that it was with rejoicing, and v.14 says that David danced.

I almost called this sermon, “David Dances.”

And they’re shouting. And playing the trumpets.

The worship band is rocking again! And this time, it’s right.

But somebody’s not happy about it. V.16

“As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. [She’s not going to attend this worship service!] And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.”

It must have been quite a sight to see the King of Israel leaping and dancing before the LORD as part of the procession.

What joy he was experiencing!

How he gave himself over to worship.

But Michal, his wife, despised him. V.17

“They brought the ark of the LORD and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the LORD.

After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD Almighty.

Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.”

It was probably the greatest worship event since at least the end of Joshua and probably since the Red Sea Rescue and the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai.

But David’s wife was not happy. V.20

“When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, ‘How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!’”

Was David being lewd?

I don’t think so.

He’s wearing a linen ephod and the parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 15 says that he also wore linen robe.

He’s not disrobed. He’s not immodest. He’s not flashing the crowd.

But he’s not been dignified either.

At least, not dignified enough for Michal.

She’s disgusted with him because he’s not been wearing the royal robes and the crown and acting the part of the king.

Remember she learned kingship from Saul.

Notice that every time she’s named here, she’s named, not as the wife of David, but as the daughter of Saul.

She’s got her priorities in the wrong place.

What’s the right way to worship?

#2. WITH HUMBLE JOY. V.21

“David said to Michal, ‘It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD's people Israel–I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.’ And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.”

David is saying, “You’ve got it all wrong, Mic.”

I wasn’t putting on a show for the girls.

I was worshiping God alone.

“I will celebrate before the LORD!”

And nothing is going to stop me.

David was worshiping with humble joy.

We can see the joy part in his dancing.

But we get the humble part by his self-forgetfulness.

He’s not focused on how he looks.

Do you ever worry about how you look when you’re worshipping?

How you look?!

Now, we should try not to distract people in corporate worship. They aren’t here to watch us.

But we aren’t here just for them, either.

We’re here for Him!

V.22. “I will become even more undignified than this.” Watch me. “And I will be humiliated in my own eyes.”

“I am just a servant. Yes, I’m the king. But I’m just the LORD’s servant.”

“And I will risk being misunderstood to worship the LORD with gladness and joy and abandonment.

And if you can’t see that, Michal, that’s your problem!

Even the slave girls of Israel will be able to see it rightly, and honor it.”

And the daughter of Saul never had a child. Judgement upon her for being too much the daughter of Saul.

Humble Joy.

Joy and gladness and rejoicing and enthusiasm–not to put on a show but because we truly have the joy of the Lord.

That’s the right way to worship.

There are people who will jump up and down and scream in their living room or on the field when their team scores a goal, but who will not even lift up their voice and sing to the God who saved them.

David worshiped with humble joy.

He knew how much He had to praise God for.

He knew how worthy God was.

And He didn’t care who saw him humble himself before the Lord.

Do we worship with humble joy?

Or are we Michal’s, judging everyone else’s worship and thinking that it isn’t quite up to snuff.

Let’s give our all to the Lord is worship.

Not just on Sunday. Worship is not just a Sunday thing.

It’s a every day thing.

Every day should be a day of humble, joyful worship of our holy God.

Psalm 2:11 says, “Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling.”

That’s right.

It’s both/and not either/or.

“Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling.”

Holy Fear and Humble Joy. That’s the right way to worship.

Messages in This Series

00. "How the Mighty Have Fallen!"
01. King David
02. David's Kingdom
03. The Right Way to Worship

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