2 Samuel 5:1-5; 6:1-5; Psalm 150
(watch here: https://youtu.be/BYyZ5dFJAHM)
Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, ‘Look, we are your bone and flesh. 2For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be
shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.’ 3So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. 4David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for forty years. 5At Hebron he reigned over Judah for seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.
6David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim. 3They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart 4with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. 5David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.
1 Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty firmament!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his surpassing greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with clanging cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
This morning’s reading reminds me of the one about a man who died and was taken up to heaven where he met Peter at the gate. “Welcome to heaven,” greeted Peter. “I’ll be showing you around.” They walked a short way and came upon a group of people singing, shouting, and raising their arms in the air. “This is where the Pentacostal followers worship,” explained Peter. They walked a little further and saw some people taking holy communion. “Over here are the Catholics,” said Peter. Around the corner they came across a bunch of people hunched over Bibles and engaging in lively discussion. “Those are our studious Lutherans,” Peter said with a smile. They walked by several more groups of followers openly worshiping in their own ways. Then Peter said, “Shhh, be very quiet now,” as they walked past a long, tall brick wall. On the other side they could hear shouting and singing – what sounded like a big party going on. The man asked who was behind the wall. Peter said “Oh, those are the Mormons…they think they’re the only ones here!”
A little gentle denominational humor never hurt anyone. Besides those Mormons bring it on themselves, always isolating themselves from the wider church and adhering to some pretty radical teachings and practices. If only they’d ground themselves a little and play nice with others then perhaps they wouldn’t be the butt of so many jokes. But I suppose I’m starting off with a little too much judgmentalism… The joke does highlight an aspect of the Mormon denomination that resonates with all Christian denominations, possibly all religious faiths. The Mormons in that joke were shouting and singing and having a good, old party. They were celebrating the way that God wants all of us to celebrate. They were celebrating the way that David celebrated in today’s psalm. They were celebrating the way that all the tribes of Israel were celebrating at the anointing of David over all of Israel. God takes great delight in our praising him and giving him our thanks for all his many blessings. God wants us to always have cheerful hearts. God does so very much for us each and every day of our lives. He may not anoint us kings and queens over entire nations but He finds ways to uniquely bless each one of us. God created every one of us to be truly distinct with our own sets of skills and beliefs and limitations. Each one of us is given a unique life situation in a specific time and place. We are born into certain families and raised according to certain traditions and beliefs. None of us lives exactly identical lives. We are all blessed with unique challenges and opportunities.
Just look at David. Who would’ve thought that that precocious little shepherd boy would have been singled out by Samuel and later raised up by the tribes of Israel to be their king and leader? God knew David had greatness within him. God knew that David would fearlessly and faithfully lead his people. Of course, God also knew how deeply flawed a leader David would be as well. As fearless and faithful as he was, David was still human and wrestled with inappropriate urges and behaved rather unkingly. But God still blessed him with so many opportunities to reveal God’s glory. So many times God gave David the strength and courage to overcome great resistance from those around him. David, like all great leaders, naturally accrued great enemies over time and could have easily succumbed to fear and doubt. But he stayed true to his faith in God and God stayed true to him. God didn’t allow his enemies to win. God continued to bless David with persistent strength and courage.
Just as God continues to bless us with strength and courage to overcome all of life’s new challenges and opportunities. David never stopped praising and thanking God. He may have felt afraid and alone at times but those feelings weren’t because of what God had done. No, God never failed or abandoned David. God was steadfast in his love for David and continued to create new opportunities for growth and regeneration. In our own lives, God is always busy creating such opportunities too. Enemies may gather around us, sickness may gather within us, but we are never without hope because we have God. God is a sure and steadfast hope! God is most assuredly worthy of our praise and thanksgiving! Those tribes of Israel celebrated the anointing of their king David. They celebrated the ark of God being transported wherever they went because it affirmed how God went with them. David celebrated in his psalm all the many blessings bestowed on him by God.
And it’s not the only praise psalm David ever wrote either. In his 95th psalm, he sang, “O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” Clearly David knew how to sing praises and inspire others to sing alongside him. In his 103rd psalm, he sang, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits.” How many contemporary songs have used these very words to offer praise to God? MANY!!
David wasn’t the only one in Scripture to encourage praising God. In James, we hear, “are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.” (5:13) Suffering is a part of life. Sometimes it’s avoidable, other times it’s not, but it is a distinct part of life. And when we suffer, we ought to pray for deliverance or, at the very least, for understanding. But when we’re without suffering then we ought to sing songs of praise as James suggests. What better way is there to show our gratitude than through songs of praise? Long before David, Moses also sang with the Israelites as he led them out of slavery: “The Lord is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” (15:2) There is a long history with God’s chosen people giving thanks and praise to God.
We ought to honor that history and continually seek to offer our own praise and thanksgiving. Our God is a good and gracious God. He is persistent in creating new opportunities for freedom and growth. All the stories of the Bible are testaments to God’s generous blessings. Let us be mindful of them and sing out our gratitude. Thanks be to God!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.