Sunday’s sermon: Making My ‘Messy’ Magnificent

dancing before God

Text used – 2 Samuel 5:1-5; 6:1-5





  • [PLAY A FEW BARS OF “Footloose[1]”] → Classic, right? The wildly-popular 1980s movie[2] about the new boy in town going toe-to-toe with the staunch and stodgy town minister over the issue of what?
    • Kevin Bacon = Ren McCormick, new boy in town who lives his life through dance
      • Dances when he’s happy
      • Dances when he mad
      • Dances when he wants to have fun
      • Dances to “get the girl”
    • John Lithgow = Rev. Shaw Moore, local minister who believes there’s something inherently inappropriate and wicked about dancing → does everything in his power to keep Ren and all the rest of the local youth from dancing (especially since Ren’s dance to “get the girl” is aimed at Rev. Moore’s oldest daughter)
    • Classic scene = the city council meeting
      • Ren takes his place at the microphone to address the city council as well as the gathered crowd → argue to allow high school dance within city limits
      • And what book does he quote from in support of his argument for the power and value of dance? He quotes from the Bible. He read Psalm 149, and he speaks of King David leaping and dancing before God.
        • Ps 149: 1 Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song; sing God’s praise in the assembly of the faithful! 2 Let Israel celebrate its maker; let Zion’s children rejoice in their king! 3 Let them praise God’s name with dance; let them sing God’s praise with the drum and lyre! 4 Because the LORD is pleased with his people, God will beautify the poor with saving help. 5 Let the faithful celebrate with glory; let them shout for joy on their beds. 6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, 7 to get revenge against the nations and punishment on the peoples, 8 binding their rulers in chains and their officials in iron shackles, 9 achieving the justice written against them. That will be an honor for all God’s faithful people. Praise the LORD!
    • And with our Scripture reading this morning, we got a little taste of David’s story, both the political side and the dancing side.
  • So let’s talk about David. As we make our way through the Narrative Lectionary, our goal is to take in the whole, overarching scope of the Story of faith, right? Well, we certainly can’t do that without talking about King David, can we?
    • David’s thread in the Story of faith is a long, colorful, and complicated thread → probably takes up the most space within the entirety of Scripture (possible exception: Paul’s travels as they’re recounted in Acts)
      • Begins when prophet Samuel goes in search of a king to replace Saul
        • REMINDER: Saul = anointed king by Samuel when the people of Israel demanded a king (against God’s wishes) → Saul does a good job ruling for a little while (following God and God’s commandments) → eventually stopped listening to God and is rejected as king[3]
        • Samuel goes in search of a new king à finds David in the field tending his father Jesse’s sheep à Samuel anoints David[4]
      • David is taken into Saul’s service as a musician and armor-bearer (though Saul is unaware that this boy has already been anointed as his replacement)[5]
      • David defeats Goliath[6] and befriends Saul’s son, Jonathan[7]
      • Saul becomes suspicious and jealous of David → Saul pursues David and tries to kill him multiple times → David escapes time and again through various means[8]
        • This part of David’s life – when he’s running from Saul and trying to avoid being captured and killed but is also still functioning as a soldier for the people of Israel and going into battle for his people – is a really complicated and fascinating part of the story of faith. We don’t have time to go into it in detail today, but if you’re looking for an interesting read, delve into 1 Samuel 18-31.
      • Eventually, Saul is killed in battle[9] → David is anointed king for a 2nd time – anointed as king of Judah[10] → But because of conflict between the house of Judah and the house of Israel (different tribes under the greater umbrella of “people of Israel”), David only ruled over the people of Judah for the first seven and a half years of his monarchy.[11]
    • 1st part of today’s Scripture reading (from 2 Sam 5) = David finally being anointed as king over people of Israel as well
      • Moment of powerful unity
      • Moment of dynamic hopefulness
      • Text: All the Israelite tribes came to David at Hebron and said, “Listen: We are your very own flesh and bone. In the past, when Saul ruled over us, you were the one who led Israel out to war and back. What’s more, the Lord told you, You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will be Israel’s leader.” So all the Israelite elders came to the king at Hebron. King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.[12] → Anointing number three … third time’s the charm, right? With the first anointing (in the fields with just Samuel and the sheep as witnesses), David was accepted by God as king. With the second anointing, David was accepted by – the house of Judah – by a faction of the people as king. And with this third anointing, David is finally accepted by all the people as king. And how does David celebrate? Probably not the way you think.
        • Part of Scripture that we didn’t read today (part that fills in between 2 Sam 5 and 2 Sam 6) = David leading the army of Israel to capture Jerusalem and defeat the Philistines → Granted, there’s a lot of battling and conquering that happens throughout the Old Testament. This is just a small part of it. With this battle and this conquering, David does something that becomes incredibly culturally, religiously, and politically impactful: he establishes Jerusalem as the Holy City for the people of Israel.
          • Certainly an action that continues to have cultural, religious, and political ramifications even today, right?
    • 2nd part of today’s reading = David calling to have God’s chest brought to the city
      • “God’s chest” = “the Ark of the Covenant” → special chest that was created[13] to house sacred articles of the covenant with God (most notably the tablets containing the 10 commandments) → But it was more than just a special, fancy box. The lid of the box was known as the kaporet or the “mercy seat. Two gold cherubim on either end of the lid created a space with their wings which was believed to be the space in which God would appear. So bringing God’s chest into the city was a powerful, sacred, and highly significant act because it establishes Jerusalem as the place where God lived.
        • Scholar: The ark, a large box, functions as God’s throne; a visible place for God’s invisible presence. The ark went ahead of the Israelites as they journeyed through the wilderness.[14]
        • See in the text just how significant and moving this act was: David and the entire house of Israel celebrated in the Lord’s presence with all their strength, with songs, zithers, harps, tambourines, rattles, and cymbals. → different translation (NRSV): David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.[15]
  • So here’s the thing: we’ve talked about all the ups and downs that David has already been through in this short life. Remember, our Scripture reading this morning said that he was only 30 when he was anointed king of the house of Judah (2nd anointing) and 37 when he was anointed king over all Israel. So in his relatively short life up to that point, he had been through a lot. He had gone from a simple shepherd boy to a secretly-anointed king to an armor-bearer for the king to a national hero to the best friend of the king’s son to a fugitive and a battle commander … to the king. And in the face of all of that … maybe because of all of that … David danced.
    • Danced because he was happy
    • Danced because he was relieved
    • Danced as a release
    • Danced to honor God
    • [PLAY SAME FEW BARS OF “Footloose” AGAIN]
    • Even though he was probably exhausted … even though he probably had a lot on his mind … even though he probably had worries and uncertainties and fears and a to-do list a mile long (being a king and a conqueror, after all) … even though he had been through some terrible thing, some scary things, some dark and painful things … David danced.
      • Brings to mind words from Ps 30: You changed my mourning into dancing. You took off my funeral clothes and dressed me up in joy so that my whole being might sing praises to you and never stop. Lord, my God, I will give thanks to you forever.[16]
        • Many psalms traditionally attributed to King David à this is one of those psalms
        • Now, I hesitate a little to say this because I know that sometimes, when you’re down in the depths of whatever you’re facing and people tell you things like, “It’s bound to get better” or “There’s always a silver lining” or any of those other sunshine-and-roses-everything-is-happy platitudes, it can actually have the opposite effect. It can make you more frustrated, more anxious, more depressed, more angry, more discouraged. But even after everything that he had been through, David danced before God. David let God take that mess that he had been in – mess of political intrigue, mess of war, mess of leadership thrust upon him, mess of grief and exhaustion and fear. David let God take that mess and change his mourning into dancing. David let God bring light to his darkness. David let God bring love to his loss. David let God bring passion to his pain. David let God bring the Holy to his hopelessness.
    • That’s why the words of our next hymn[17] are so powerful → convey dancing in the face of some pretty awful things
      • “I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee, but they would not dance and they would not follow me …”
      • “I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black. It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back …”
      • “They cut me down and I leapt up high. I am the life that will never, never die …”
  • And remember … not all dancing has to look the same.
    • Maybe your dancing looks vibrant and effusive and energetic like David and the people of Israel dancing “with all their might”
      • Movement that conveys joy
      • Movement that conveys passion
      • Movement that conveys celebration
    • Maybe your dancing is slower, more measured, more contemplative à more “movement with a purpose” than anything
      • Movement that conveys belief
      • Movement that conveys intention
      • Movement that conveys resolve
    • Maybe your dancing is simply moving your finger or tapping your foot
      • Movement that conveys faith even in fear
      • Movement that conveys courage even in pain
      • Movement that conveys hope even in uncertainty
    • In the midst of his mess, David let God move him. David let God bring out the magnificent in the midst of that mess because that is the nature of God: goodness, mercy, love, and hope above all else. These are the things about God that will not change. These are the things about God that reach into our hearts and our souls no matter what we’re facing. So friends, let me ask you: How is God moving you? What will your dance be? Amen.


[1] Kenny Loggins and Dean Pitchford. “Footloose,” released Jan. 1984 by Columbia Records.

[2] Footloose, written by Dean Pitchford, released Feb. 17, 1984 by Phoenix Pictures and Paramount Pictures.

[3] 1 Sam 8-15.

[4] 1 Sam 16:1-13.

[5] 1 Sam 16:14-23.

[6] 1 Sam 17.

[7] 1 Sam 18:1-5; 20:1-42.

[8] 1 Sam 18:6-30:31.

[9] 1 Sam 31.

[10] 2 Sam 2:1-7.

[11] 2 Sam 2:8-11.

[12] 2 Sam 5:1-3 (emphasis added).

[13] Ex 37:1-9.

[14] Elna K. Solvang. “Commentary on 2 Samuel 5:1-5; 6:1-5” from Working Preacher,, accessed Oct. 20, 2019.

[15] 2 Sam 6:5 (first CEB, then NRSV, emphasis added).

[16] Ps 30:11-12.

[17] “I Danced in the Morning,” Glory to God (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013), hymn #157.

One response to “Sunday’s sermon: Making My ‘Messy’ Magnificent

  1. Pingback: Sunday’s sermon: Big Love | Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

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