A reflection on the 2 Samuel 6 sermons
While listening to Pastor Jon’s message on October 16th, 2 Samuel 6:14 kept repeating in my head. “And David danced before the Lord with all his might.” I asked myself, “where have I heard that before?” Well, have you ever seen the movie “Footloose?” It used to be one of my favorites. I realized that 2 Samuel 6:14 is one of the bible verses that Ren McCormack, the protagonist in “Footloose”, uses to fight for his right to dance against his town council that outlaws the act.
I feel like I grew up constantly hearing phrases in church and pop culture stating “dance like David,” “sing like David,” and “praise like David.” I concluded that David had to have been the best worshiper of all time and so, I associated nearly all things worship-related in the bible with David. I figured that we must all try to be like David and devote our whole lives to praising and worshiping God all the time, with all our being, and all our strength. Now, what a huge expectation that seems to be. The expectation to meet the standards of a well-known biblical figure. So let’s take a moment to consider some smaller expectations. Let’s look at what we know about David, and what we know about ourselves.
Understanding David to understand worship
We have been sifting through Samuel with Pastor Jon for the past few weeks. We have followed David’s rise to the throne as the King of Israel and and his reign as God’s Humble servant. Because of David’s faithfulness (demonstrated by his worshipful and praiseful actions), the Lord blessed and honored David. King David aspired to build a temple worthy of the ark of God. Let’s also not forget how his story begins, by defeating the giant Goliath in single combat. In summary, David sounds almost like a hero in a fantasy novel. However, David was human like us. And like us, he was constantly tempted by sin. And also like us, a lot of the time, he fell to temptation and sinned. David murdered, committed adultery, and broke his promises to God.
So, why is David such a huge biblical figure? Why did God bless him? The best answer I can give is that David actively pursued God in worship. Throughout books like 1 and 2 Samuel and Psalms, we can read about David praising God in times of celebration and great suffering. In periods of prosecution by his enemies, David cries to God in shame, anger, grief, and for forgiveness. And in times of excitement (like 2 Samuel 6), David praises God by dancing, singing, and shouting. David humbles himself by relinquishing his human desire for control and asks God for help. And he encourages and educates others to do the same.
David showed us that worship is the act of ascribing worth to God, regardless of circumstances or environment, because God is worthy of praise. God is all good. We, as humans, are a blend of bad and good. Goodness comes from God and His gifts to us. One of the many immeasurable gifts God blessed us with was and is worship. Our right or ability to give glory to God by dancing, singing, shouting, praying, etc. David demonstrated that worship includes, but does not have to be about emotion. The purpose of worship is more of an active recognition of God, where we find ourselves filled with the Holy Spirit. I think this can look different at different times for everyone. There are some who find that fullness by happily singing songs at a church service (that’s where I’m at), and that’s okay. Not everyone finds that fullness by trying to happily sing songs at a church service, and that’s okay too.
Combating a critical spirit by microdosing God’s goodness
If you attended the contemporary service on October 9th or 16th, you heard the worship band perform “A Million Saints.” One of the writers, Meredith Andrews, explains that the song is meant to be “a picture of heaven.” Where the church of the world, not just one person or one community, but all nations and all generations, sing the same song. With one voice and one heart singing “God, you are holy.” I think this song beautifully fits Pastor Jon’s first point from the October 9th message, “Honoring the holiness of God.” That the holiness of God is to be feared, loved, and trusted above all else. Singing this song as a congregation in church, or even just being intentionally present, is a way to praise God’s glory and actively pursue God in worship. Remind us of a familiar figure?
Pastor Jon advises us to actively pursue God in all good and bad times. To make room for God in our busy lives to bless and restore us. Pastor Jon asks us if we have “just gone along with the crowd” and grown lax in our active pursuit of God. Have we gone along with the crowd by allowing negativity, disgust, and disdain to persist and solidify in our hearts and minds? Pastor Jon asks us this in his message on October 16th. He talked about how unchecked criticizing words and thoughts build until they erode our relationships with others, ourselves, and God.
In my introduction post, I explained that I am working on completing my master’s degree and working towards professional counseling licensures; therefore, I am going to apply a little therapeutic knowledge on human thought and behavior. In the therapy profession, we can identify these little “pecking” words and thoughts as problematic thinking patterns. Problematic thinking patterns can establish core beliefs about ourselves and the world. Core beliefs that guide us to believe that we are not as “good” as others, which can lead to anxiety and self-consciousness. Or, core beliefs that instruct us to perceive everyone else is “bad,” and therefore, everyone needs to be judged and put in their place, which can lead to anger and hate. These little “pecking” words and thoughts that establish core beliefs also solidify the neural pathways in our brains to continue perceiving and responding in a judgemental and critical manner. It can be an endless cycle. However, we can also interrupt the cycle by microdosing God’s goodness and positivity!
Remember how I said earlier that David set huge expectations and standards for the rest of us? That’s where microdosing (a term coined by my professors at UW-Stout) comes in. In the counseling profession, we start the process of change by setting attainable goals and changing our behavior in attainable ways. We microdose positive and realistic thoughts to interrupt the negative ones and encourage more positive behaviors. The purpose of this is to solidify new neural pathways in our brains to establish a healthier cycle, and cause the negative one to soften and fade away.
As I stated earlier, goodness comes from God. We are blessed with strength to change our ways (thoughts and behaviors) because of God. We have the confidence to continue living in healthy and positive ways because of God. All the more reason to want to praise God and give Him the glory he deserves. One way to microdose God’s goodness is by finding moments, no matter how small, to intentionally worship and praise God!
We sang “Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty” at the traditional service on October 16th. In just four verses we can see in the hymn’s lyrics where we ask God to interrupt our negative judgments and actively pursue worship like David. We sing to God in adoration of the beauty of heaven and the gifts He has granted us on earth, “Oh, how blessed is this place, filled with solace, light, and grace!” We sing to God and implore for His neverending faithfulness and strength in the face of trials, “Thou my faith increase and quicken, let me keep thy gift divine, how soe’er temptations thicken; may the Word still o’er me shine as my guiding star through life,” and “Here of life the fountain flows, here is balm for all our woes.” Just as David encouraged, we sing as a one church with one voice, “Here thy praise is gladly chanted.”
Now, we may not have Kevin Bacon shouting “Let’s Dance!” in our ears with the classic guitar solo line queuing us to get moving and start praising. Like David, we have to be motivated ourselves to actively pursue God in worship. In the good and bad times. That way, we can strengthen the cycle that God’s goodness has in our lives and quit fostering that critical spirit. Where are you praising? Where are you noticing the goodness of God in your life? How are you noticing it?
Stick with that.
And foster it’s good growth.
I have attached YouTube links to the two songs I mentioned in this post: “A Million Saints” and “Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty.” Look for my weekly posts on insert social media platforms here and on our website church website! Please feel free to reach out to my email firstname.lastname@example.org with any thoughts or questions.
Meredith Andrews – A Million Saints (Official Lyric Video)
901 – Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty – The Congregation sings from The Lutheran Service Book.