Track 1: Set Free in Christ
2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
It was a time of great celebration. The Ark of the Covenant was at one time in the hands of the Philistines, but now King David had rescued it and having it carried into Jerusalem for the first time. David was so joyous that he was dancing before the Ark. But not everyone was celebrating. From the Second Mood of Samuel we read:
David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.
As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. (2 Samuel 6:12-16)
The glory of God radiated from the Ark of the Covenant. David’s wife Michal did not see the glory. She saw her husband the King acting in an undignified way. He was not conforming to the accepted norms of the day.
The Apostle Paul wrote about conforming to this world:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. ().
David had little awareness of what was going on around him that day. He was celebrating the presence of the glory of God.
We are treated to the wonderful Davidic psalm today:
Lift up your heads, O gates;
lift them high, O everlasting doors;
and the King of glory shall come in.
“Who is this King of glory?”
“The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle.”
Lift up your heads, O gates;
lift them high, O everlasting doors;
and the King of glory shall come in. (Psalm 24:7-9)
David knew the Lord as the King of Glory. He was in love with an awesome God, a God of majesty and glory. And David also realized that we are invited by God to partake of his glory. Paul wrote about the honor of being selected to live in the glory of God:
In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:11-14)
When we attend a sporting event do we get emotionally excited by the play and for our team? No one needs to tell us when to cheer and when not to cheer. If it is alright to become emotional at a sporting event, why are we not allowed to cheer and celebrate the glory of God. At a sporing event we may have a passion for the game. David had a passion for God.
God is calling us into a passionate relationship with him. He is calling us out of this world. We may still be living in the world but Jesus said that we would not be of this world. Our present world has put us in an emotional straight jacket, so to speak. We must say and do this. We cannot say and do that. Many will despise our passion for God. They will despise our lively praise and worship. God does not despise us. He loves us and wants to share his love with us. Do we want to get to know him as David did?
Which do we choose – listening to God or the falsehood of this world – eternal life or eternal damnation? Paul wrote to the church in Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5)
Track 2: Truth or Self Justification?
Today we read about King Herod who allowed himself to be placed in a difficult position. He has arrest John the Baptist. He liked to listen to him preach. He knew that there was something special about John, but now he was forced to make a difficult and unpleasant decision. From today’s Gospel we read:
For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. (Mark 6:17-28)
Herod beheaded John the Baptist even when he knew it was wrong. Why did he do it? Perhaps he did not want to lose face. He made a promise and his guests might be upset if he did not keep it. He did not want to look bad in front of others so he did something very bad. Does the world dictate our behavior today? It does if we need to justify ourselves. We may need the approval of others to feel that we are accepted. This is the trick of the Devil, of course. He tells that we will not be accepted unless we do certain things. And then when we do those things he accused us for doing them.
There is no real peace in the world. We cannot really get approval from the world. Justification and approval comes from God alone through the blood of Jesus Christ.
To whom are we listening? The psalmist wrote:
I will listen to what the Lord God is saying,
for he is speaking peace to his faithful people
and to those who turn their hearts to him.
Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
Mercy and truth have met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Truth shall spring up from the earth,
and righteousness shall look down from heaven. (Psalm 85:8-11)
We have a choice to make. Do we listen to the world around us and value what people will say, or do we listen to God. One way leads to destruction and the other way leads to eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. In his sermon on the mount Jesus clearly explained our choices:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
What advantage do we gain for doing what the world considers correct when it is actually wrong. God determines truth and correctness. His way is correct. Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” If we choose his way, truth will spring up from the earth. We will understand what is right and what is wrong. Moreover, Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. But we must first chose him over this world
At a time of great falsehoods how much we need the truth today! The truth is that God loves us and that he has approved us because he has taken all our sins away. They were nailed to the cross of his Son Christ Jesus.