The story of the ark coming back to Jerusalem is full of drama – God strikes Uzzah dead, David dances in his underpants and cynical Michal is cursed. The full story is told in 1 Chronicles 13-15.
In his excitement to get the ark back to Jerusalem, to restore worship and consolidate his power base in the capital, David didn’t check the procedure for moving the ark in Numbers 3-4. He got his chosen men together and a new cart and attempted to transport it the 10 miles to Jerusalem with loud worship. I remember Ken Gott preaching on this passage at Stoneleigh Bible Week and saying the anointing is not intended for man’s professionalism and plans – the anointing is carried on men’s shoulders. We can have great ideas of how things should be done, church meetings can become a polished performance, with professional musicians, amazing PA and celebrity preachers in front of lovely expensive stage sets. All done in the best heart like David does here in 2 Sam 6, but is it man’s plans or God’s?
David hadn’t checked how God wanted it done. And God is not pleased. The ark that was the symbol of God’ presences is meant to be on men, not a nice looking cart or programme. When the oxen stumble, Uzzah reaches out to stop it falling and is struck done – He gets to meet His maker early. Verse 9 tells us fear of the Lord came upon David. The pomp and ceremony come to an abrpt halt outside Obed-Edom’s house so the ark stays there. He’s a Gittite, so not even part of the people of God. Over the next three months he is blessed by the presence of God. David realises the ark must come to Jerusalem back to the tabernacle. This time 1 Chr 15:13 tells us that David has realised that the problem was “we did not seek him according to His rule.”
This time the Levites carry the ark on their shoulders. There’s even more exuberant worship, with much sacrificing and David dancing with all his might before the Lord. Stunning! The anointing is meant for our shoulders not our programmes.
While God is at work doing wonderful new things, Michal despises it – perhaps she doesn’t like change, perhaps she feels excluded in the planning or not fully communicated with. She didn’t know her hubby was going to leap about in his underpants! Someone once said what people aren’t up on they are down on. Who knows why she’s so cyncial, but what’s in her heart comes back with sarcasm, grumbling and venom. Sadly these aren’t words for the wind. They land and David rebukes her – how dare she criticise exuberant worship saying it was sexual in nature! The result is that the Lord closes her womb that day. Notice David rebukes her, not curses her and it is the Lord who judges her. She was insinuating that David’s underpant worship had sexual overtones. The consequence of that is she is will not have any more sex benefits! The wrath of God on the earth is expressed in giving us over to what we desire with all its consequences (Rom 1:26).
Be careful in what you criticise. We are not always going to be in the midst of how things are changing. Don’t be cynical and critical – don’t be down on what you are not up on. Cheer it on!
Prize the presence of God over professionalism – that’s why we love to develop people and it won’t always be a polished product as new people are trained as worship leaders, PA techs, projectionists, kids workers and preachers. They may not do it as well as you but they are growing! Cheer them on! Be more excited about God at work, than everything done perfectly.
EDIT: It’ll be even less polished as we start online only services this Sunday – join us on the website www.thegatewaychurch.info at 10am. We won’t be in our underpants or very polished, but we pray it will be full of the presence of the Lord and a blessing to all!
Marinate on that