So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of God and worshiped Him.
II Kingdoms 13:5 (Septuagint; II Samuel 13:5 in KJV and others)
Do you recognize this incident?
King David had become an adulterer and murderer over his his lust for Bathsheba. The Lord sent Nathan the Prophet to David to engage in a little “consciousness raising” about the ugly affair, which “greatly provoked the enemies of the Lord.” Despite David’s repentance, Nathan prophesied the death of the son born of this adulterous fling.
When the child became ill, David fasted and lay on the ground in sackcloth. He stayed there seven days, refusing the pleas of the elders of his house to rise and eat, until the boy died. The elders of the house were afraid to tell him of the death, afraid that if the mere illness had driven him to such measures — well, what would he do to himself when he learned of his son’s death?
But overhearing their whispers, he suspected the truth, and asked them point blank: “Is the child dead?” Yup.
So he popped up, chipper as can be, and boogied down to Church for a little worship action.
Strike that. Not likely. But
David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of God and worshiped Him.
When I read that this morning, I was struck that at what obviously was a very, very low point in his emotional life, David went to the house of God and, the text says, worshiped Him. He didn’t wail and cry — well, maybe he did. Maybe wailing and crying isn’t incompatible with worship.
Elation is far more pleasant than despondency. But if there’s anything we can learn about worship from this passage, it’s that elation is not a prerequisite of worship.
“I don’t feel like it” is no excuse.
“I’d feel hypocritical” is no excuse. Because worship, apparently, is not a declaration that “I’m so happy, and here’s the reason why: Jesus took my burdens all away.”
It would indeed be hypocritical to say/sing that when there’s dust in your mouth. That should tell us, it seems to me, that there is something deeply misguided about group “worship” that puts in everyone’s mouth a chipper ditty that some present cannot sing that day (or week, or month, or season of life) with integrity.
I dare say it’s not worship at all. It’s a pep rally.
The goal of worship, if you can call such a thing a “goal,” is simply to put the worshiper in the right relationship to God, who is worthy of our worship, whether or not the worshiper feels notably grateful or upbeat or feels much of anything at all. He’s God. We’re not. Acknowledging that, and being content with that state of affairs, is meet and right even when we’re “lower than a snake’s belly.”
Dare I suggest that “worship” that’s full of affirmations about my feelings, or admonitions to others, isn’t worship at all? If you cannot imagine a “worship service” without such things, you’re worshiping in the wrong place.
Come and see.
Come where? If you really want to know, click on Tipsy/Reader John, above, and go to the end.