May 6, 2018
Imagine the scene as the parade comes into view. There’s David at the lead, dancing for all he’s worth. This isn’t the graceful choreographed liturgical dance that some of us are used to seeing in church. David is dancing, jumping, gyrating without abandon. David’s dancing is unbecoming of a king and is embarrassing to his wife Michal. She scolds him for his immodesty and his only response is that he was dancing to glorify God and if necessary he would make an even bigger fool of himself if it honored God. After David come the singers and the musicians. Then come the Levites carrying the Ark of the Covenant and the priests. Finally we can see all of the leaders of Israel singing the song that David wrote for this occasion.
The Ark of the Covenant, the seat of God is being returned to its rightful place in the center of Jewish life. While Moses was with God on Mount Sinai, God gave him instructions for building the Ark and the Tabernacle that housed it. After the Ark was built, it was where Moses went to meet with God face to face. It was the seat of God and God’s presence in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night filled the tabernacle. When the cloud lifted and moved, Israel followed. When the cloud stopped, Israel stopped. Israel followed the Ark, they followed God through the wilderness and into the Promised Land. When they entered the Promised Land and faced the impenetrable defenses of Jericho, they followed God’s leading by following the Ark around the city every day for six days. Then on the seventh the followed the Ark seven times around the city. When they shouted, the walls of the fortress fell and Israel walked right in.
Israel followed the Ark as God led them into their home. But then something changed. In Judges we hear several times that, “everyone did what was right in their own mind.” They forgot about the Ark. They forgot about God. They began to view the Ark of God as a talisman, a good luck charm and they only brought it out when they needed help in battle. Then it went back to its place at Shiloh to await the next time it was needed. Eventually, Israel treated God as a good luck charm one too many times and they lost the Ark to the Philistines in battle. When they eventually got it back, things had changed. Israel put the Ark, they put God in storage.
I think that we do the same thing sometimes. We put God in storage and treat God as a charm to be brought out when we need God’s presence. Let me give a couple examples. We put God in storage when we decide what we should do and then ask for God’s blessing on our decision. We keep God in storage when we decide and don’t even ask for blessing; asking instead for forgiveness and deliverance. We keep God in storage when we try to use the Bible to justify our beliefs instead allowing the Bible to shape our beliefs, our beliefs about giving, our beliefs about helping, our beliefs about witnessing, our beliefs about who is worthy of God’s love. We keep God in storage when we read the Bible to justify our preconceived beliefs rather than letting God’s word shape what we believe.
But today was the day that, under David’s leadership, God was returning to lead Israel from God’s rightful place in the center of Jewish life. David taught the people a song to sing as they celebrated. Psalm 105 is very close to what 1 Chronicles tells us they sang. Read the Psalm and hear the song. David’s song was about the history of Israel. He sang about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses—the heroes of Israel. But the song was not about them. David knew that as heroic as they were, they all had fatal human flaws that disqualified them as leaders. He knew that he, too had flaws. His song was not about humans, it was about God. The song Israel sang was about how God was faithful throughout their history because he knew that God was the reason for all of God’s blessings.
Look back on your life—Can you see God’s work in your life? I am convinced that I am only here by God’s grace and God’s work. To me that means that God has work for me here! I pray every day for God to show me the work God has for me and for God to work through me for God’s glory. Can you see God in your history? What is the work God has for you today? Now, think about what your life would be like if you let God lead you
. What would your life be like: If you prayed for guidance before making even the simplest decision; if you listened for God to speak to you through prayer and scripture; If you let the Word of God shape your belief instead of letting your beliefs shape your understanding of God’s Word. What would your life be like if you followed God? What would our church be like? What would our nation be like?
It is not an easy thing to turn our lives over to God. We have been taught to be independent; to think for ourselves. We may find it hard to trust God because we have been hurt so often when we trusted others, even those who say they love us. But here’s the good news: As we hear David’s song of praise for God’s great works, as we hear of the love God has for us—so great that God gave Christ to die for us—as we look at our own history we can know as we say in our communion liturgy, “When we were unfaithful, God remained faithful.” Thank God for God’s faithfulness! Amen.