Our church is doing a Summer sermon series where different members share about 'This Verse Changed My Life.' After the very first sermon, I considered which verse that might be for me, and immediately my mind went to 2 Samuel 6:14. "...and David danced before the Lord with all his might..." In fact, I've previously written a blog post (click here to read it) about why that verse impacts me so much.
The week after the first sermon in this series was shared, I couldn't get the idea of sharing about my own verse out of my head. I texted the pastor to see if there would be a possibility of fitting me in the summer schedule. It turned out that the schedule was full, but when the pastors found out which verse I wanted to share about, they wanted to squeeze me in. I was pretty excited to be given 5-10 minutes to share in a service. My shorter talk required me having to 'edit out' several interesting thoughts I had about David's relationship with God and God's heart for us. I'll share those things in two blog posts - this one below, and another coming soon.
A Man After God's Heart
This whole thought process below stemmed from the question: 'What would motivate David to dance before the Lord with all his might?'
Before David is introduced in the Bible, we find the prophet Samuel telling King Saul that God intends to have another person outside of Saul's family succeed him as the next king of Israel - a 'man after God's heart'. 1 Samuel 13:14.
Samuel later finds David, overlooked by his family, watching the family's flock of sheep. He anoints David as the next king and then leaves, and David drops back into obscurity until Goliath shows up. At that point, something interesting happens. We see David giving his 'battle resume' to King Saul, trying to convince the King to let him fight the giant.
'But David said to Saul, "Your servant used to keep his father's sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God."' (1 Samuel 17:34-36)
Growing up in British Columbia I was taught from an early age to avoid bears and lions (we had mountain lions). And to never, never get between them and their food if you could help it. What David talks about here with King Saul is a suicide mission. He didn't use his slingshot to kill these predators - he used his hands! Why would he take leave of good sense and save these lambs? They weren't full grown and I'm sure there those weren't the only lambs in the flock - who would miss them? Why does David care so much about a lamb, on more than one occasion?
I think David loved his sheep. Consider the 23rd Psalm - 'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...' A person doesn't pen a poem like that without first hand knowledge, experience, and a love for his own sheep. Love motivates people to do crazy things. I believe David loved those little lambs and went after them because they were special to him. They were his companions out on those fields, dear to him.
And God saw this! I can see God saying 'Hey, look at this young fellow! He's putting his life on the line going after that lion/bear to save his lamb! Let's give him a little helping hand... he has a heart like mine.' And when the dust and adrenaline had settled, David finds himself and his lamb still alive, and the lion/bear dead at his feet. Time to celebrate!
'For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.' 2 Chronicles 16:9a
What was it that God recognized in David's heart? Jesus said, 'Greater love has no man than this, than he lay down his life for his friends.' Another time Jesus told three separate stories trying to help the pharisees see the heart of God:
- The story of the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to find and save the lost sheep,
- The story of the widow and her lost coin, and
- The story of the prodigal son.
And David Danced...
So what would make a fellow dance before the Lord with all his might. Doing a little be of research I discovered that several Bible commentators think that men didn't traditionally dance in public in Israel at that time. It wasn't done. So what would make David do this?
I don't think the story of David dancing before the Lord with all his might was David's first time dancing. I believe he was comfortable dancing with all his might in public because he'd danced with all his might before, at least twice, privately, over the body of a carnivore that had to tried to steal his special, dear lambs. I know if I had put my life on the line to rescue something so meaningful to me from a ferocious adversary and somehow claimed victory, I would definitely be celebrating!
And the same goes for the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. It was getting restored to its rightful place, close to David's house. It had also been lost/stolen (by the Philistines) and also lost its place as Israel's spiritual centre, but David, with God's help, was bringing it back. Being a man after God's heart, he rejoiced to see it coming back to its rightful place.
What Does This Mean to Me?
How do I apply what I learned here about both David, God, and their relationship to my life? I think first and foremost, as I understand more of the heart of God and what He is like, my perspective of everything else changes. This blog post by a friend (What is God Like by Phil Aud) talks about how important and foundational our understanding of what God is like is. I'd like to believe that as God reveals Himself to me in meditations like the one above, I change - or rather, He changes me. My heart softens and the desire grows inside me to emulate Him and His desires: Seek those who are lost, with Gods help find them and help them be restored, and rejoice along with them in their freedom!