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JUST BECAUSE PEOPLE WORSHIP DIFFERENTLY THAN WE DO, DOES NOT MAKE IT DISPLEASING TO GOD

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

10 JULY 1994

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Exodus 26:33-34
1 Samuel 15:22-23
2 Samuel 6:12-23
Psalm 24:1-10

I have heard many people fuss and complain over the way other people worship God.

However, the funny (and tragic) thing is that people say the same thing about each other.

We have a tendency to look at our own form of worship as the only proper way of receiving God's favor.

Over the past month or so, we have looked at several instances in the life of King David; some of them were pleasing to God, and some were not.

This morning, beginning in 2 Samuel 6:12, we're going to take another look at an aspect of David's life.

As we look at this passage, determine in your own heart whether or not David's actions are pleasing to God.

12. Now it was told King David, saying, "The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, on account of the ark of God." And David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness.

Previously, David had tried to bring up the ark of God to Jerusalem, but because his method was displeasing to God, he ceased his attempt and placed the ark in the home of Obed-edom.

Obviously, Obed-edom had treated the ark of God with reverence; thus, the Lord blessed him.

What about this attempt by David to bring up the ark? Is it pleasing to God?

13. And so it was, that when the bearers of the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling.

Do you think these actions were pleasing to the Lord?

Do you remember what Samuel told Saul about sacrifices in 1 Samuel 15:22-23?

22. And Samuel said,

"Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices

As in obeying the voice of the Lord? .

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,

And to heed than the fat of rams.

23. "For rebellion is as the sin of divination,

And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.

Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,

He has also rejected you from being king."

We need to remember that the whole sacrificial system was instituted because the people would not obey God.

If the people would have obeyed God, there would have been no need for a sacrifice, and the continuance of violence and killing.

Thus, animal sacrifices are not what God desires, they are a concession of God, because of the evil intent of the human heart, given in hopes of bringing the people whole-heartedly back to Him.

But what about David; is he doing what God desires, or not?

Let's go on.

14. And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod.

The linen ephod was a garment of the priest.

Should David have been wearing it?

As we go on, let's see how God reacts.

15. So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouting and the sound of the trumpet.

16. Then it happened as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul [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.

Well, obviously Michal didn't agree with David's way of worshiping God.

Do you agree with what David is doing, or do you agree with Michal?

17. So they brought in the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent which David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.

In Exodus 26:33-34, we are told that the ark was to be placed in the holy of holies, the inner compartment of the tabernacle.

33. “And you shall hang up the veil under the clasps, and shall bring in the ark of the testimony there within the veil; and the veil shall serve for you as a partition between the holy place and the holy of holies.

34. “And you shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the holy of holies.

Here, David is not doing this.

18. And when David had finished offering the burnt offering and the peace offering, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts.

19. Further, he distributed to all the people, to all the multitude of Israel, both to men and women, a cake of bread and one of dates and one of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed each to his house.

Well, what do you think?

Have David's actions been pleasing to the Lord?

Let's look further in this passage and see how the Lord reacts.

20. But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, "How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants' maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!"

As we saw before, Michal obviously disapproves of her husband's actions.

But we also must ask ourselves, is she upset for God?

Or is she upset about David making a fool of himself before the people?

Or, perhaps, is she embarrassed for herself, for having a husband who behaved this way?

21. So David said to Michal, "It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel; therefore I will celebrate before the Lord.

22. "And I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished."

23. And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

In those days, children were considered a blessing from God, and a lack of children was considered a curse from God.

David may not have done everything the way the Lord would have desired, but he did it with reverence in his heart and with a true desire to serve God.

Thus the Lord accepted the worship of David and of the people.

Michal's problem was that she not only disagreed with what David was doing, but she also ridiculed the worship itself. Her use of ridicule displeased the Lord.

Many scholars believe that David wrote Psalm 24 for this specific occasion.

Let's listen to the words of the Psalm again, and see how it fits in with our message for this morning.

Psalm 24

(A Psalm of David.)

1. The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains,

The world, and those who dwell in it.

2. For He has founded it upon the seas,

And established it upon the rivers.

3. Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?

And who may stand in His holy place?

4. He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood,

And has not sworn deceitfully.

Here we get the answers to our previous questions about David's form of worship, and they begin with two new questions presented in verse 3:

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?

And who may stand in His holy place?

The answers follow in verse 4:

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood,

And has not sworn deceitfully.

This definition has not changed, even to this present day. .

As we go on, we see what happens to such a person who comes forth in honesty.

5. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord

And righteousness from the God of his salvation.

6. This is the generation of those who seek Him,

Who seek Thy face--even Jacob.

Selah.

In this verse there is a very interesting play on the meaning of the name of Israel.

Instead of calling the people the sons of Israel, who by the meaning of the name are the people who “wrestle with God in prayer,” David refers to them as Jacob, a name which means “deceiver.”

I truly believe David did this because he recognized the sin in his own life, as well as in the lives of his subjects.

David knew that the Lord accepted him when he came forth with a pure heart, and that the Lord will accept all sinners who come forth in such a humble manner.

Then David turns the emphasis of the Psalm from one directed to the individual, to one directed toward the entire community; that collectively they may be of one heart with the Lord and have Him enter all of their lives.

7. Lift up your heads, O gates,

And be lifted up, O ancient doors,

That the King of glory may come in!

8. Who is the King of glory?

The Lord strong and mighty,

The Lord mighty in battle.

9. Lift up your heads, O gates,

And lift them up, O ancient doors,

That the King of glory may come in!

10. Who is this King of glory?

The Lord of hosts,

He is the King of glory.

Selah.

If we want the Lord in our life, personally, all we have to do is seek Him with a pure heart, and He will be there.

But with a community it is harder, for not everyone has a pure heart, and thus the community lacks many of the blessings the Lord desires to bestow upon it.

But there is even another more tragic situation taking place within our communities.

And that is that many who believe are being deceived into finding fault with the other person's method of worship.

Look at what we have been able to accomplish in this church, and still it is not enough, or we would be filled.

We lovingly accept anyone who desires to come.

We worship together as Baptists, Methodists, and various others.

Sometimes, I have a different way of looking at things than you do.

And at times, you have differing ways of viewing each other's practices.

But together we have learned to function in love.

There are very valid reasons for each of us thinking and reacting the way we do; but if we have a pure heart in seeking God, then our worship is acceptable to Him, no matter the form in which it is presented.

We also need to go beyond our own church.

We need to seek harmony with others who truly seek the Lord, that within the community, our collective worship is acceptable, even if offered up in differing ways in different churches.

And we need to encourage them to do the same, and not argue with them over our differences.

And if some are hard of heart, that should be just that much more encouragement to us to bestow upon them even more of God's love.

God wants all of His created beings to come to Him.

We must be careful that we don't discourage them or, even worse, chase them away.

Love can overcome all kinds of differences, for in God's eyes there is only one Church, His church.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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