by Debbonnaire Kovacs, posted July 8, 2015

Based on 2 Samuel 6.

I was there. I saw it all, with my own eyes. I’m telling you, it gave me a whole new understanding of what worship can be—what it truly means to praise God with a whole heart.

I was only a little girl when the Philistines captured the Ark of the Lord, but I remember the stories; how their false god, Dagon, fell on his face before the Ark of Israel’s God, and how the Philistines got tumors and all kinds of trouble, and finally sent the ark back home to Israel. But it only got as far as Kiriath-Jearim, where it stayed for more than twenty years, at the home of a man named Abinadab.

Even when our new, heroic, young King David went to bring it back to Jerusalem where it belonged, there were still more evidences of how holy and sacred that Ark is, and how respectful we should be with it. Once again it was delayed, this time at Obed-Edom’s house, but only for three months.

So you would think, when David finally went and brought it the rest of the way to his capital city, everyone would have been very proper and solemn, marching straight, eyes forward, playing only solemn trumpet blasts, like they do at Yom Kippur. And that is what most of the priests and Levites did. I was in the crowd at Jerusalem, waiting for the procession, and I saw how their eyes looked sideways at the king, some with disapproval, some with what I thought might be secret envy.

Because David was dancing. I mean, he was dancing! He was leaping and twirling and shouting praise. I heard several phrases I recognized from some of his more popular songs. And I myself saw him, not far within the gates, get so hot that he pulled off his kingly robes and flung them to a nearby servant, (who almost didn’t catch them), and go on in his linen tunic!

To tell the truth, I was a little shocked myself. It didn’t seem very decorous for a man in his position. He almost looked like one of those prophets of the false idols. They dance the same way, and our prophets warn us to beware of acting in any way that might be misconstrued as being like them.

But as the king came closer (I’m short, so I was in the front), I saw his face. It didn’t have that frenzied, twisted look I’ve seen on the idol worshipers. I’ve sometimes thought they looked more frightened than reverent—as if they are terrified that their god will turn on them or they will displease it in some way. (And come to think of it, I’ve seen good Israelites act that way about our One True God, too…)

David didn’t look like that. His face expressed the purest, most delighted, overjoyed, excited…joy that I’ve ever seen. For just a second, I thought of the joy of a bridegroom who truly loves his bride and is going to bring her to his home. Or the joy of the bride whose husband has come at last.

I tell you the truth—it brought tears to my eyes. One by one, people from the crowd joined in the rejoicing and singing and shouting, and so did I. As we came to the tabernacle David had set up, and the Ark passed within, the shouting and singing died down to a vibrating sense of fulfillment and joy that made me feel my heart might burst at any moment.

The Ark of the Lord was home. YHWH was with us.

And as I watched the rituals of sacrifices that followed, I knew I would never think of worship quite the same way again.