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.
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!’ 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. 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 honour.’
2 Samuel 6:16, 20-22 (NIV)
When the Ark was being brought back into Jerusalem, David’s praise and worship was exuberant. He was so enthusiastic that he was leaping and dancing. Notice in the verses above that it says that David was ‘… leaping and dancing before the Lord’. David wasn’t self-conscious, but allowed his enthusiasm for God to overflow. However, not everyone was pleased to see him act in this way. We are told that his wife, Michal, despised him for it.
The problem was that Michal was more interested in appearances, than in what was going on in David’s heart. She expected him, as King, to act in a particular way and thought he was undignified to leap and dance.
Many people go through life afraid to be be themselves. This happens because others expect them to behave in a particular way. It starts in early childhood and goes on into adulthood. It is most obvious in working life, but can affect all aspects of a person’s life.
The problem is that it is also apparent in our churches. In a place where we should feel free to express our love for God in an exuberant manner, we are constrained by other people’s expectations, together with the norms of our worship culture. If we remember that God already knows who and what we are, he is not going to be shocked if we allow ourselves to express our love for him exuberantly. While I am not advocating ‘leaping and dancing’ for all, I am advocating the freedom for a person to express their love for God in a way that is in keeping with their personality. We shouldn’t be shocked, or condemning, if someone expresses their love for God in a way that we personally might find difficult. So let us be ourselves before God and allow others to be the same.