Would you do something that felt uncomfortable in order to serve the Lord? Would you engage in something that others didn’t understand if God sent you to do it? How far would you go in potentially embarrassing yourself if you thought God was calling you to perform a task outside your comfort zone?
Most of us never face this question. The closest we may come is the discomfort of doing mission work in a foreign place, volunteering to do something new, or the embarrassment of raising our hands in worship when others around us are wooden and stiff. In my decades of ministry in a church, the only time I actually risked humiliation was when I preached sermons that bombed (several times!), or when I made a statement in an administrative meeting that wasn’t well received (several times!). Oh, and there was the time that I accidentally introduced a couple at the end of a wedding as “Jim and Kerry Whale (her maiden name)” when I was supposed to say “Jim and Kerry Gentry.” Whoops!
David went a lot farther in his willingness to appear undignified before the Lord. He just couldn’t help himself. His complete and total joy in returning the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem overcame him, and his spontaneous dancing revealed more than just his happiness:
2 Samuel 6 (New International Version)
12 Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing.13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf.14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
16 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.
Permit me to be irreverent here for a moment. Every time I read this passage I remember a scene from Seinfeld where Elaine is exuberantly dancing. She is terrible! She is awkward and uncoordinated, and it is hilarious because she thinks that she has smooth moves. I imagine David dancing like this, with his little linen loincloth flapping in the wind. Both of these images are a little cringe-worthy! Michal surely did not appreciate her husband’s jubilant moves.
17 They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.
20 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!”
The conflict between Michal and David is apparent. She was the youngest daughter of his enemy Saul, and she loved David with a pure heart when he was the national hero. But when he had to flee from Saul’s hatred and wrath she was given to another man, even though she was still married to David. When David returned, she was torn away from that man and given back to David. Michal had no control over her life. In addition, she was an idol worshipper. And so here she is, watching David debase himself before a Lord she does not recognize. We can understand her discomfort with the whole thing.
21 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. 22 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 honor.”
David stands his ground. He knows who called him to this moment in time, and he worships the Lord in gladness and joy. God delivered a great victory to Israel and David is now the king….and all who worship God, including the slave girls, recognize the magnitude of what has happened.
23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.
And so they separate, and the marriage is not revisited. Michal dies childless.
There may come a time in your life when God calls you to do something uncomfortable. You may feel the urge to witness to a stranger on a plane, take an unpopular position in a debate, give generously of your resources, etc. Wherever you feel God is leading you, GO and serve God with all your might. Yes, you may feel some embarrassment, but David reminds us that the only audience that counts is the Audience of One. When we please God, nobody else matters.