After recalibrating their regard for the holiness of God and the ark, David leads Israel by bringing the ark into Jerusalem. David knows how to make an entrance! 2 Samuel 6:12-19 and 1 Chronicles 15-16 depict an exuberant celebration. There are many instruments making music, singers, sacrifices, offerings, free food, and a scantily clad king.
That’s right, King David is less than fully dressed, and he leads the revelers, dancing with all his might. His “linen ephod” is a sort of undergarment. In this limited clothing David is literally jumping for joy (2 Samuel 6:16) in the middle of the party, which draws some attention. David’s wife Michal scolds him for his indecency. She calls his conduct in front of females vulgar and shameless.
David’s response is pointed and abrasive. He was in God’s holy presence – the same God who picked David to rule Israel instead of Michal’s father (Saul) – and he sees no need to apologize for rejoicing before God. Not only is he not apologetic, he has more to come. The NIV translation of 2 Samuel 6:22 makes David’s defiance clear: “I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” A textual variant suggests “your” eyes, but either way, David shows that his only concern is God’s eyes. He does not care if he is appropriate or undignified; he does not care if he is honored or humiliated. He does not care about his self-esteem or the esteem of others. David celebrated in God’s presence, and nothing else mattered.
David knew God in a way that was utterly freeing, allowing him to celebrate without inhibition. We should take note of the phrase “with all his might” in 2 Samuel 6:14. I think it is rare in our culture for a person to do anything with all their might. Whether because we are too distracted or too exhausted or too afraid to fail or too uncommitted or spread too thin or whatever the reason might be, we are more likely to hold something back than to go all-in. An exception to this trend is the Olympics, in which thousands of athletes gave their all earlier this month in pursuit of gold medals. I wonder if part of why the Olympics are so intriguing is because they give us a rare glimpse of what “all your might” looks like in the form of might-y athletic performances.
Since I have served at a few Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreats, I know that Olympians are not the only people who give their all. Legacy Retreat volunteers are also all-in. For four days, they hold nothing back in their service to retreat families. It does not matter what the circumstances are; it does not matter how strong the fatigue is – they serve with all their might. And, like King David, they are joyful and exuberant!
For David, such mighty response to God’s presence made celebration more powerful than social convention. At Legacy Retreats, such mighty service in God’s presence makes celebration more powerful than disease.
“I will become even more undignified than this…” – 2 Samuel 6:22