Many who worship this way are deeply sincere in what they are doing. They love God, but just as Israel had to repent when the Law was rediscovered in Josiah’s day, many of us must lay aside things we’ve ignorantly adopted. God now, by his Spirit, is again revealing His Eternal Will concerning worship.
THE RETURN OF GOD’S GLORY
A beautiful story from David’s life pictures this: Israel had backslidden for years. The Book of Judges concludes with an apt description of the moral decline of those days: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” The negligent, corrupt high priesthood of Eli was typical.
Because of this, God allowed the Ark of His Presence to be captured by the Philistines, Israel’s enemies. In the battle in which the Ark was captured, Eli’s delinquent sons were both killed. When Eli heard of this, he died of a broken neck, as he fell backward at the news, “The Ark is captured.”
When his daughter-in-law heard of all these things, she went into premature labor, and died in childbirth. Before she expired, she named her son Ichabod, for she said, “the glory has departed.”
Some years later, David the king heard the Philistines had returned the Ark after they captured it. He went to Obed-Edom’s house with priests to carry the Ark back to Jerusalem. He was filled with joy, and offered sacrifices every six paces of the journey. The whole journey was full of high praise and worship.
Having arrived in Jerusalem, he laid aside his kingly robes and danced with joyful abandon before the Lord in nothing but a linen ephod. As he did so, Michal, his wife, saw him from her window and the Bible says, “She despised him in her heart.” David finally brought the Ark to rest in a tent which he had prepared for it, amidst great praise and joyous worship.
When David returned home, Michal mocked his joyful worship which she inwardly despised. ”And Michal, the daughter of Saul,” the story concludes, “had no children to the day of her death.”
BUSINESS AS USUAL-BUT NO GLORY!
This episode has much to teach about what is happening in the present spiritual renewal of God’s people. Although God’s glory had departed due to Israel’s corruption, lukewarmness, and continual backsliding, the priesthood and religious system continued to function as it always had. It was business as usual.
Similarly, the church has often moved gradually into periods when all its ritual and ministry proceeded out of carnality, and God’s glory was no longer present. No one seemed to notice it was gone, either. Many segments of the church are still like that today. It is business as usual services are conducted, ministers ordained, prayers prayed, sermons preached and all without a trace of the glory of God. But it is into the midst of this that God brings renewal.
It was no coincidence that King David, a man addicted to the worship of God, was the one responsible for seeing that the Ark of God’s presence was returned to its rightful place. When God brings revival and renewal to His people, He does so through men and women who are worshipers. Only people who worship and praise the Lord consistently can ever expect God to move gloriously in their midst.
THE MICHALS AMONG US
Finally, how telling was Michal’s negative response to David’s abandon to worship and praise: When God brings renewal to His people, the very first evidence will be an increased freedom and frequency of worship. This always meets with hostility from a number of people. These are the Michals among us.