David was afraid of the Lord that day; he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come into my care?”
In King David’s spiritual haste to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to his home town, they all got a little too casual in the handling the holiest artifact in the Jewish faith and a colleague died and, as a result, the entire company are suffering from a panic attack–including King David. He sends the Ark away, but that won’t do either so he makes plans to try again to bring the Ark into his town.
What David realized was that he can’t live without God, but he can’t live with Him either. And I can completely relate to that feeling. We can’t live without transcendence, without God; but we can’t live with him either. He is too holy. He is too perfect.
I love that place in The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe where the children are asking about this mysterious creature named Aslan and Mr. Beaver goes about to set them straight,
“He’s the King. He’s the Lord of the whole wood, but not often here, you understand. Never in my time or my father’s time. But the word has reached us that he has come back. He is in Narnia at this moment.”
After Beaver recites an old (prophetic) rhyme about Aslan, notching the tension even higher, Lucy asks, “Is — is he a man?”
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the woods and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion — the Lion, the great Lion.”
Then, of course, Susan and Lucy ask if this lion is safe — to which Beaver answers with his memorable line, “Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
David is not certain that God is altogether safe. He’s not sure he can live with the ark.
But in time, David recommitted to treating the symbolic presence of God with proper fear and trembling by sacrificing the blood of an innocent third-party animal to acknowledge that because of the sinfulness of mankind, he might have God by his side, but he does not have God in his pocket. And this brings great joy to David.
The story tells us, David danced before the Lord with all his might.
Grace got King David dancing. And grace is what gets us dancing too. Because this dance of joy and this Ark are sign posts to Jesus of Nazareth. They point to a time when God would not be on the other side of some mystical place where a select few might have access. Jesus would come as the ultimate Ark, the final Temple.
Do you remember in John 2 when Jesus builds a whip and drives out the money-changers and trinket-sellers to purify the Temple? And when they protest and fuss with him about his actions he says,
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead…
Jesus’ body would be the final place where the presence of God would overlap and interlock with this world. When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, the living God doing a sacrifice for us; throwing open a doorway into his perfect presence for imperfect people.
Now, the way we “get in” to God’s presence and find the transcendence we have all been looking for is not a place, it’s in a person.
Will you and I hear the music of God’s grace in Jesus?
If we begin to dance to this grace-music, there might be folks close to us who do not hear the same tune and do not appreciate our dancing.
The story continues…
Michal (David’s wife) looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.
There is a wonderful line in a sermon by a preacher of a hundred years ago named Alexander Whyte where he says about David and Michal,
Those who are deaf always despise those who dance.
The question for us is will we hear the music of Jesus, or will we be deaf to it?
When my grandgingers were about 3 or four years old one of the girls came to visit my wife and I for the weekend. We noticed when she was in the play room she was dancing. It was a wonderful twirling, fluid, graceful motion. We both stopped and watched from the hallway through a door, slightly ajar. We looked at each other smiled and one of us said, “There is no music.” The other of us said, “She can hear music that we can’t hear.”
There’s an old hymn we used to sing when I was a boy that none of you will know…
There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low:
Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still,
in all of life’s ebb and flow.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
sweetest name I know,
fills my every longing,
keeps me singing as I go.
So, dear friends, may you hear the music of grace and may God get you dancing in life.