The story of the Ark’s journey to Jerusalem continues in our Chronicles reading today… this time with greater reverence and appropriate care. David summons the Levites and instructs them to consecrate themselves in preparation for bringing up the ark. This time they do it properly, putting their shoulders to work rather than resting the ark on a cart (you may recall, things did not go well last time they tried this). Interestingly, greater reverence here manifests not in a greater depth of feeling but in greater obedience to God’s word . For me, I am reminded that the depth of my love and devotion to God should always manifest in obedience – to do anything less is to flaunt the grace of God.
In the latter half of the chapter we are witness to the sheer exuberance of the procession. We see a myriad of musicians, thousands of Israelites shouting and singing and the ol’ harp and lyre rocking out with ‘loud music’. A veritable cacophony of glorious, celebratory sound! And there is David, dressed resplendently in his underwear, dancing like there was something worth rejoicing. Yes! God dwelling in the midst of his people! David’s response to God is a joyful, heartfelt expression of praise. It makes me wonder if I truly know how to celebrate? In fact, sometimes I find myself identifying more with David’s wife Michal, who is more concerned about how things might appear to others than rejoicing freely for what God has done (2 Sam 6:20-22).
For the Levites, their response was obedience to God’s word, with due reverence and consecration. For David, his response was to rejoice with free abandon. I have no doubt that the Levites rejoiced in their obedience and David was obedient in his rejoicing – I need to remind myself that obedience and rejoicing are not mutually exclusive – in God, obedience IS freedom and absolutely worth rejoicing!
Our reading in Revelation relates to the church in Smyrna. As Al pointed out yesterday the letters to the churches in Revelation typically follow the pattern of commendation, complaint, judgement and promise. EXCEPT here in Smyrna. The Lord Jesus has no complaint against Smyrna. He sees their affliction, their pain, their suffering and knows that some will be imprisoned and martyred! Yet He promises that ‘the one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death’. While we regard martyrdom as an unlikely event here in Australia, many Christians around the world face this possibility (and reality) daily – let us pray that they (and us) would cling to Jesus Christ as saviour beyond death. Romans 8:38-39 states I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is indeed reason to celebrate in wild, reverent, unashamed obedience.