Peeled - Joy

2 Samuel 6:12-23 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 to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. 16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. 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. 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. 19 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. 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, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” 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. 22 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.” 23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.

“I lied, OK?” That’s what Candace Bushnell said late last month. Candace built her whole career on the supposed truth that a somewhere in the world man exists who she will in love with and that love will conquer all. Her empire known as Sex in the City was built on that entire premise. She truly believed that the right man and the right marriage would bring her the joy she sought. What she’s found in her real life and what she says other women have found is that men just can’t pull that off. She says, “Ultimately being in love with a man is never going to be enough for me.”

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you see the opportunity in her words. Maybe you see that she’s ready. She’s almost there. She’s on the verge. It makes me wish I could talk to her, have a cup of coffee with her, interview her… anything so that I can ask her the question I’m dying to ask her. If being in love with a man is never going to be enough for you… If you won’t and can’t find your joy there, then where will you find it? And where will you find it in such overwhelming amounts that it begins to overflow into lives of others? If there’s anything the Holy Spirit wants to teach us today in this Scripture, it’s that.

And he does it in the most powerful and fascinating of ways. I used to think this narrative was really all about David. David dances. David feasts. David does this and David does that. That’s what used to stick out in my head. David. David. David. But this isn’t a David narrative. It’s also not a David-less narrative. It’s about him. It’s just that it’s not only about him. This narrative is really about David and, his wife, Michal. This is about their differing approaches to finding joy and where those approaches lead. It’s a case study in just that.

That’s so important for us to notice. David is one of the most talked about spiritual figures in the Bible. Seriously, he is. He also wrote the Psalms and we’re told so much about him in other parts of the Old Testament. David dominates in Bible history and spiritual thought. That’s why it’s so striking that here in this narrative we’re told just as much about his wife, Michal, as we are of David. And, perhaps, what’s most striking is how she’s portrayed.

She’s first pictured as watching from a window, which couldn’t be more telling. David was executing one of his most powerful and epic acts of his entire kingship and his queen refused to attend. He had gone down from his throne to carry up the Ark of God, the place of God’s special presence, from a random guy named Obed-Edom. And this was no two-men-and-a-truck moving party. This was a moving party where David was quite literally dancing his face off and sacrificing bulls every six steps. This was a moving party took buckets of money, oodles of planning, and had excitement coming out of its ears. And there sits Michael apart from it all. Contemptuous. Stuck-up. Refusing to join the party welcoming God’s presence to the City of David. In fact, we’re explicitly told by the omniscient narrator, “When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.” (v. 16) Ouch.

Meanwhile David's joy continues to ooze and overflow. He’s sacrificing bulls. He’s sending up fellowship offerings. He’s handing out cakes of dates, and cakes of raisins, and loaves of bread. And this isn’t like Black Friday either. It’s not that the first 50 people through the door get what David’s giving. It’s every single person in the crowd. It’s everybody. David’s joy is overflowing to quite literally his entire world. He’s so committed to that that as his next act we’re told he heads up to, “bless his household.” (v. 20)

And that’s when Michal comes smashing back into the narrative. It’s epic, complete, and total marital clash. David comes home with joy in his heart and wanting to bless his family and she just rakes him. It’s ugly, ugly stuff. She doesn’t even let the poor guy get through his own door. The narrator makes sure we know she’s so amped up and so hornet mad that she goes out to meet him saying, “How the King of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” (v. 20) Such a telling statement! Don’t you think?

Do you see what Michal’s concern really was? It wasn’t that David was dancing. Not really. It wasn’t how he dressed. Granted he wasn’t wearing kingly, long garments, but he wasn’t lewd either. He did have on a linen ephod. He was clothed. That wasn’t her problem. Not really. Her problem is revealed later in her statement. What Michal was upset about was where and with whom he was showing his joy. The slave girls. As any vulgar fellow would. You know what vulgar means? It means average-joe-guy. It’s the normals. It’s the spiritual and social middle class. She was upset that David was dancing and leaping and rejoicing down there and in sight of Average-Joe sinners.

And Michal was upset because it was robbing her of her source of joy: being better than everybody else. Michal wanted to be different. She wanted to be above. She wanted to be better. She wanted to be held in awe by the masses. And David’s joyous actions pulled her right down with everybody else. Because when the king gets down there and dances with the masses, then what does that do to his queen? It puts her socially and spiritually right down there with him. That’s what made her madder than a hornet. That’s what made her lash out. Michal, like so many of us have, tried to find her source of joy in something other than her God. And God would have us know the endgame to joy sources other than him. Powerfully, I might add. “Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.” (v. 23) The last thing that could set her apart. The last thing that could raise her stature above the masses - being the mother of David’s prince - was taken from her.

And that’s the end of the narrative. That’s it right there. It’s not an upper to say the least. The truth is that it’s devastating. It really is. There’s no getting around it. There just isn’t. And that’s actually the point. The Lord is just refusing let us settle. Because he sees our inner Michal. He sees our inner disappointed Candace Bushnell. And the Lord loves us too much to let us find our joy in anything less than the one being that can deliver it: himself. Not in our social status. Not in our husbands or our wives. Not in our kids or our careers or our friends or our alcohol or our money or our porn addictions. He just won’t. He won’t let any false joy have us. And so the Spirit shows us their devastating ends.

So we won’t ever come to it. So we repent. So we turn. So we know the only true and lasting and endless source of joy that makes us dance and give out loaves of bread and cakes of raisins and cakes of dates to our whole, entire world. Don’t you want that source of joy? I know I do. I want it so badly I could burst. I’m tired of the false starts. I’m tired of the spiritual ups and downs. I’m tired of looking to sources of joy that only disappoint. I want Davidic joy that gets down with all God’s people - the normal joes, the slave girls, the vulgar people, the sinners - and glories. I want that. Don’t you?

You know what the truth is? If you see false hopes from your past… if you see your disappointment and your frustration and your hurt from them, then you’re ready to know the ultimate source of joy. And I get to tell you all about it! Or, really, David does. It was in the very recent past that David’s spiritual leadership had catastrophically failed. Catastrophically. Tragically. Say it however you want to. He put a priest in a position where he would have to touch the Ark of the God. The man died as a result. It was David’s fault and he knew it. It was just three months before David’s ecstatic scene here that he had said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” (v. 9) Because he saw his sin. And he saw its effects. And he wrongly thought the Lord would be after him for it. So he didn’t finish bringing the Ark of God home. He left it randomly at some guy’s house called Obed-Edom.

And the Lord blessed Obed-Edom. And blessed him. And blessed him. And blessed him. It must’ve been quite the scene because word was getting out about this. Babies must’ve been being born. Crops must’ve been coming in. It must’ve been quite the sight because word was getting out and word about it made it all the way to David’s throne. Just as it was supposed to. Because the Lord is merciful and the Lord is kind and the Lord is forgiving. And the Lord wanted his king to know it and trust it and believe it. And so he blessed Obed-Edom so ridiculously much while the Ark of God was with him that David got word of the Lord’s gospel heart.

A heart that looks at our catastrophic leadership failures. A heart that sees all our little chasings after false sources of joy. A heart that sees how sometimes we’ve looked past the one and only thing we ever needed for joy. A heart that saw all that and still wanted us. And still yearned for us. And still sought us with his whole being so much so that he made the Ark of God obsolete. He made it archaic and so Old Testament. You know how he did that? The Lord did away with the symbol of his presence, the Ark of God, and came to earth himself. He came himself! And when he showed up he walked with the slave girls. He talked with the vulgar. And he danced with the sinners just as David his father had done. And then after he did all that, he died. He died for the slave girls. He died for the vulgar. He died for the Average-Joe-sinners.

And I think you already know why. So we could keep on dancing. So we could come into the Father’s presence unafraid of our sin. So we could enter there knowing that we’d be judged - but not as you might think - so that we’d be judged as justified. The Innocent Ones. The Saints. The Holy Ones of God. Not as the vulgar. Not as the slaves. Not as the Average-Joe-sinners anymore. As God’s children. As God’s people. As God’s joyous ones. That’s why he died. So we could keep on dancing.

Dancing. That’s what David was doing. He was dancing. My daughter, Elliana, loves to dance too. She dances freely, powerfully (for a little girl!), and ecstatically. We turn on our little Bluetooth speaker at home and we have dance parties. I think I like them more than she does because my inhibitions go away. And for those moments I’m free. I can express the joy of the Lord in my life. Thankfully, Melanie isn’t my Michal. If she’s not doing the dishes, she joins in too. We are that free as God’s people. We’re not trapped by other people’s expectations. We’re not held down by hopes of a career that may disappoint. We’re not tied to a relationship that we have or perhaps don’t have. We’re not tied or trapped or chained to anything anymore except our Lord. That’s why we dance in life. Freely. Powerfully. Ecstatically. Joyfully.

Life for the Lord is like that. It’s a joyful dance. You make the moves. You express your joy. You decide. Seriously. As long as it’s about loving the Lord and loving his people. You make the moves. You decide. I don’t think anybody was in David’s ear saying, “Hey, David you gotta toss loaves of bread and date cakes and raisin cakes to every soul here.” Joy is free and powerful and it acts on opportunities that come along to love the Lord and love the Lord’s people. It’s a lot like dancing in that way. That’s what’s so awesome about Paul’s list of fruits of the Spirit too if you think about it. He lists them off without directions. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Love the Lord. Love his people. And dance with joy as you do it.

When Candace Bushnell said, “Ultimately being in love with a man is never going to be enough for me.” Her quote caught fire. Perhaps for some it was because it was so shocking to hear especially from someone who had built a career on the premise. Perhaps for others it was because it affirmed so much of what they have experienced. But for us as Christians, it’s an awesome reminder that if we want to dance – and I mean truly dance with the kind of joy that goes on into eternity. True, authentic, Davidic joy – that only comes from knowing the Lord wants you in his presence forever. That’s how we dance right through this life and into the next one. Just as David did. Freely. Uninhibitedly. Powerfully. Ecstatically. Joyfully. Amen.

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