God’s Presence & Our Pleasure in Worship

2 Samuel 6 is one of those chapters that reminds us of the divinely inspired nature of Scripture.[1] Go ahead, read it, I’ll wait.

The whole chapter goes against the grain of human preference. Commentator Dale Ralph Davis says it like this, “No one would’ve invented a story like this, let alone a ‘god’ like this. Not if we were trying to win converts and influence people. The God of this chapter isn’t very marketable.” Death from God’s holiness, dancing and delighting in God’s pleasure, and disgust for worshipping in so unproper a manner. The Bible is a perfect balance of truth. Both great terror and great joy are here. Tremble before this God and dance with all your might! The world cannot comprehend a God like this, but you know who can? The redeemed get it. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ understands that a thing can be both dreadfully terrible and deeply wonderful at the same time.

Allow me to put forward two takeaways from 2 Samuel 6:

First, Emotional Pleasure in Worship.[2] 

When someone today describes another as an ‘emotional type’ are they giving that person a compliment? No. For some reason we think expressing emotions is a sign of immaturity, while keeping your emotions in check is a sign of maturity. I think that mindset more fits with Michal than David in our this chapter. Look at David. A heart full of joy in the Lord cannot be contained without vigorous dancing in the presence of the Lord. Now I get that to a degree varying temperaments express joy in different ways. Too many though, use that as an excuse for remaining emotionally frigid. If your voice resounds and your hands reach to the heavens when ‘your team’ scores a touchdown and they don’t go up in worship, something’s off. Worldly delights are delights, but they shouldn’t have or receive the majority of our emotional expression. No, God should. Therefore it ought to be our great and earnest endeavor to cultivate a deep joy in God. Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; and at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 27:4, “One thing I have asked of the LORD, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, and gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple.” Psalm 36:7-8, “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They feast on the abundance of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your delights.”

Emotional maturity then means, not avoiding feeling in worship, but feeling what we ought to feel in worship. The grandeur of the glory of God, the gravity of our sin, and the gladness of redemption. God wants all of you. Mind and heart. When the mind is renewed, the heart is enflamed, and when the heart is enflamed the body cannot be still. It either bows low in reverential humility, or sings – sways – dances in reverential satisfaction. But…let’s not miss the forest for the trees here. When David brought up the ark at first and worshiped and rejoiced according to his own ways and wisdom the result was death. But when David brought up the ark again and worshiped and rejoiced according to God’s ways and wisdom the result was national celebration. Lesson? Right order in worship isn’t intended to stifle deep emotion, but to allow Godward emotions to run wild.

Second, Divine Presence in Worship.

It is important to see why the events of chapter 6 come after the events of chapter 5. Back in chapter 5 we saw king David lead out the armies of Israel not only to defeat the Jebusites and capture Jerusalem, we saw him lead out the armies again and defeat the Philistines twice. These were certainly great victories. Then in chapter 6 we have the narrative of the ark coming to dwell in the city among the people where it belongs. Lesson? God’s people are not sustained first and foremost by great victories against their enemies. God’s people are not sustained first and foremost by expanding their borders, no. Victory is good, expanding and growth is good but God’s people are sustained first and foremost by seeking God’s very face, His presence.

I think at times we can easily lose sight of this. We too easily get caught up in the latest moral outrage, social cause, ethical dilemma, and political battles of our time. And while these things can be good in themselves and while they may move us to action and cause us to be mindful or aware of our current cultural climate, are these the things that sustain the life of the Church? No. Think back to the ark. It was the symbol God’s presence among His people, and in this way this box, this sacred furniture looks forward to Jesus Christ who is the “…image of the invisible God…” in whom “…all the fullness of the deity dwells bodily…” and is “…the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature…” (Col. 1:15, 2:9, Heb. 1:3).

How do we keep our focus on God personally and corporately? By turning our eyes and hearts to Jesus, His Person (truly and fully God / truly and fully Man), His work (perfect law-keeping life, wrath bearing and atoning death, victorious resurrection, and mighty ascension), and looking full in wonderful His face.[3]

Our worship of Him must be and ever remain to be at the center of our life together.

[1] Dale Ralph Davis, Out of Every Adversity – 2 Samuel, 75, 77–78.

[2] Zac Hicks, The Worship Pastor, 143-155.

[3] Davis, 74.

The Avalanche of Sin

“It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 3 And David sent and inquired about the woman.” (2 Samuel 11:2-3a) (Read the entire chapter here). Things only went downhill for David from there.  Author and Pastor John Piper once said, “Avalanches of evil begin with a single pebble of sin.”  This truth could not be seen more clearly than in the story of David from the verses above.

According to the text late one afternoon, as David was presumably lounging around his palace all day, he decided to get up and take a walk out onto the king’s roof top. Once outside his eyes fell upon a beautiful woman as she was bathing.  Now in that moment, he could have decided to hide his eyes and turn away, but rather than leave it alone, he chose to indulge himself and inquire about the woman.  Once he found out who she was, he arranged for her to come over to his house.  Upon her arrival the text tells us that David slept with the woman.  You can see already how this situation has turned from bad to worse very quickly. It does not take much for sin avalanche.  Not only had David’s lust turned into premarital sex, but to make matters worse, both David and the woman he had slept with were married.  The snowball is increasing in size as this sin grows bigger and bigger.

Not long after David and Bathsheba’s affair, Bathsheba sends word to David that she is, in fact, pregnant with his child. This news seems to trouble David as he is now in fear of being caught in his sin.  So he attempts, unsuccessfully, to get Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, who is out in battle, to come home and to sleep with his wife so that no one would think anything of Bathsheba’s pregnancy.

However, when David’s first attempt at cover-up failed, he decided to have Uriah put in the front lines of battle so that his death was sure.  This was his second attempt at covering up his sin (and we find out later it failed as well 2 Samuel 12).  So what started with lust ended in adultery and murder.  Rather than nipping sin in the bud, David allowed his sin to grow, and it quickly grew out of control. And the same thing can be true for us. We can play with sin and play with sin and think we are doing just fine, but before we know it things can get out of hand and our sin has ruined us. Sin can ruin our reputation, ministry, even our lives. And if we continue in it without repentance it will lead us to hell.

There is no such thing as a “small” sin.  All sin is rebellion towards God and can lead to “avalanches of evil.”  We are to set our eyes on Christ and live for Him, leaving our sin behind.  John Owen once wrote, “be killing sin or it will be killing you.”  Let’s strive every day, by the grace of God, to treasure Christ above all else and to snuff out our sin before it burns out of control.

The good news for David is that his story didn’t end there. By God’s grace he realized his sin (2 Samuel 12:13) and asked God for forgiveness (Psalm 51) and although there were consequences to his sin (2 Samuel 12:7-14) ultimately David was forgiven.  David was well aware of God’s forgiveness for sin (Psalm 32:5) and we can be sure, by God’s grace, he was forgiven from all of it. What great news.

And the good news for David is also good news for us. There is forgiveness for sin. Complete forgiveness.  That does not mean that there are not consequences for sin and we should take it lightly – sin is dangerous – but by God’s grace all our sins can be forgiven when we admit our fault and turn to Jesus (Psalm 32:5; 1 John 1:9 ). Praise God for His grace and mercy toward undeserving sinners like you and me.

A Hope for Gentiles Too

One question looms over all of this series on 2 Samuel 7 doesn’t it? How can such a glorious promise made to Israel mean anything to gentiles like us? Most of us in this room do not come from Israelite origin, we are not Jews, we do not grab hold of the covenant promises of Israel by physical birth. Well, this promise is the only hope for gentiles like us, and it is not an over-statement to say that this same promise made to David, of a coming King, is the only hope of every gentile on the planet. How is this so?

Amos 9:11 says this, “In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the gentiles who are called by my name, declares the Lord who does this.” Do you see what this means for us? It means that in the promise made to David in 2 Samuel 7:8-16 God had in view a larger house and kingdom much bigger and much greater than only Israel! He had gentiles in view here! He had every nation and every people and every langauge and every tribe in view. This is a worldwide kingdom, remember the promise of Isaiah, “…of His kingdom, and of the increase of His government there will be not end.” Likewise Revelation 11:15 says, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

This hope for Gentiles is made even more clear when we remember what Jesus did at the last supper. Remember what He said when He held up the cup? “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood.” This means that through His blood Jesus purchased, He bought, all the covenant promises of old for those who’ll one day trust in Him. We know this because 2 Corinthians 1:20 says “All the promises of God find their YES in Christ Jesus.” Therefore if you’re in Christ, if you’ve trusted Him and placed your faith in Him all the promises God has ever made are yours and you can hold on to them as tightly, find hope in them, feel the sovereign strong power of God promising to do good to you, now! Romans 8:32 also, “For He who did not spare His own Son but have Him up for us all, won’t he with Him graciously give us all things?” The “all things” in view include all the covenant promises of old, they aren’t just for Old Testament saints, or for believing Jews, all the promises are pulled forward and applied to the Church, applied to you, and applied to me. And specifically, you and I can now go to 2 Samuel 7, read of the promise of a coming King and rejoice that your King has come, He is Lord of Israel, Lord of India, Lord of China, Lord of Kenya, Lord of Columbia, and He is now pursuing gentiles who are called by His name in every tribe, language, people, and tongue – even people in Newton county.

So I end with a call to you, post-modern 21st century Americans from two places in Scripture:

Isaiah 55:1-3, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.”

Revelation 22:16, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star. Come, let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

After David heard the promise, the first thing our of his mouth was, “Who am I and what is my house that you O Lord would do such marvelous things for me?!” Perhaps God has brought you to that same point in life, and you have cried out in a similar manner after seeing your sin and beholding what Jesus did for us on the cross. And then perhaps you haven’t, I pray you would.

He is Making All Things New

Continued from yesterday…

This is exactly what took place when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and said in Luke 1:31-33, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” This is Him! David’s Son is here! He will reign forever and ever. Paul agrees and states in Romans 1:3 that the Son of David is Jesus. Matthew 22:45 says this Son of David is also the Lord of David, and 1 Corinthians 15:25 says the King ruling and reigning over the true Israel is David’s Son Jesus. So we see the promise made to David in 2 Samuel 7 has eternity shaping realities, when we find out that the son of David who will rule forever is the Son of God Himself. David’s heir who’ll build a house for God is David’s God.

If any of you are familiar with the famous Lord of the Rings novel written by J.R.R. Tolkien, you’ll remember there is a part in the very back that peaks to our topic today. After the quest was over and they were back in the safety of the elven city Rivendell, Gandlaf was sitting by the bed of Sam and Frodo. Sam woke up for the first time since the dark lord had been defeated, and Gandalf asked him, ‘How do you feel?’ Sam’s answer speaks much about the delight and hope of the Christian. Sam said, “Well, I don’t know how to say it. I feel, I feel’ – he waved his arms in the air – ‘I feel like spring after winter, and sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I have ever heard! Does this mean the King is now going to make all sad things untrue?” The wait is over, the King has come, and yes, He is making all things new.

The Return of the King

Befuddlement is the proper response upon reading 2 Samuel 7:8-16. David desired to build a house for God to live in, and God responds, not in the manner we expect, and says that instead of David building a house for God, God is going build a house for David. And not only a house, but an eternal house/throne/kingdom that would endure forever and ever. This is a strange God indeed. Can you see why this chapter could easily be one of the 7 summits of the Bible and one of the largest moments in the redemptive history? David was just told he would receive an eternal kingdom, and that he would never lack a son to rule on the throne of Israel. This is stunning to say the least. Here before us we have what the Church, for ages, has called the Davidic Covenant. And in this Davidic Covenant God promises that David’s throne would extend forever.

There is much happening in these few verses. God promises that Solomon will reign in David’s place one day, but it is not Solomon that will reign forever and ever. This is why 7:14 says, “When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, and the stripes of the sons of men…” Yes, Solomon will reign but he will not reign perfectly, he will sin and need the Lord’s discipline, and eventually Solomon’s life will end. But verse 13 and 16 make clear that David’s kingdom will reign forever, it will be an everlasting kingdom. So God is making eternity shaping promises here, and Israel would have placed all their hope in the line of David. Yet, even in the midst of David’s reign Israel learned what happens when the king disobeys God; it always brought the nation to ruin, but God had promised (!) the line of David would not end. So the people would begin to yearn and groan for a king to come who would actually fulfill the conditions of the covenant, obey God fully, bring the nation to flourish under God’s mighty hand. They knew that such a king could only come from God Himself, a righteous, obedient descendant of David ruling justly on the throne.

Then David dies, and Solomon dies, and king after king after king come and go, mainly showing themselves wicked not righteous, and bringing destruction, ruin, and even exile to the nation. Then in the prophets writings we see glimpses of hope coming, that one day the king their looking for will come and make all sad things un-true.

Ezekiel says this in 34:23, “And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.” Jeremiah 23:5-6 says it too, “”Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord our Righteousness.” Isaiah says it in 9:6-7, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

This last prophecy from Isaiah teaches us that the Davidic covenant is glorious because it shows the One whose coming goes by the name, Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, and Mighty God. What does this mean about who the King is? The coming King will none other than God Himself! God Himself will come as King and sit on the throne of David. In spite of all their sin and all their wandering God will come to His people and do good to them in His way and His timing. So you can almost feel the anticipation that existed within the heart of an Israelite. They had some dark days, and the night is darkest just before the dawn, and how glroious the sight would be of the coming of the King! O’ to see the New Day Dawning, to see the King come and sit on His throne, to see the people of God seeing what they have for so long yearned for! The King will come, and rule in righteousness and faithfulness forever.

2 Samuel 7: One of the Biblical 7 Summits

13 years ago a close friend in high school introduced me to the exciting and thrilling world of rock climbing, and from the moment I first ascended my first climb I was hooked and to this day I enjoy climbing as often as I can. It wasn’t long before I realized that many climbers dreamed and aspired to do one thing, climb the 7 summits. You see, the 7 summits is to the climbing world what the Super Bowl is to the NFL. These 7 summits are the 7 tallest mountains on each continent, and to be a climber whose climbed all 7 means you’re among the most elite climbers in the world. It wasn’t long before this aspiration began rising in me as my new climbing hobbie grew. The 7 summits hit me as I was beginning to pray over and think through this sermon, because in the Bible we can clearly see 7 summits as well, each summit being a monumental moment in history that not only changed everything for that specific time period, but is far reaching in it’s implications for the entire history of redemption. If one were to put all 7 summits down on paper, the events of 2 Samuel 7 are such a summit. Why? Lets look into it to see.

As we begin 2 Samuel 7 we find David as King of Israel and there is rest from war at this point in history because The Lord had defeated all of Israel’s enemies. David then has a thought he shares with Nathan the Prophet, “I live in a big house, God dwells in a tent.” Nathan responded eagerly and quickly, “Go, do all that is in your heart. The Lord is with you.” We take this to mean David wanted to build God a house, he wanted to make a temple. Now that’s not a bad desire, but God then comes to Nathan that same evening and gives Nathan a word for David. Listen to how God responds to David’s desire to build Him a house.

It would seem from these initial verses that God did not want a house to live in, because if He had wanted it, He clearly would’ve told the judges to build Him one. Even more so, God is Creator not part of the creation, in fact in Psalm 50 God states, “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.” Similarly Paul says in Acts 17, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” Even though David wants to build God a house, it would seem that David is about to hear something similar here, that God is God, He needs no home! “David don’t you know that I am The Lord, I am different than the false pagan gods that all dwell in temples.”

Well you would think God would say that, but He doesn’t.