Worship and culture

Some of the things that worship is


Please read 2 Samuel ch6 before continuing.

Do you identify more easily with David or Michal?

David’s worship of God embarrassed his wife, they were both looking at different things. David was thinking only of God and just expressed all that he felt. Michal was thinking of David’s position and what was expected of him by others and presented her own expectations to him to try to curb his activities. What a mix of problems here.

The thing is that worshipping people will always stand out from the godless society they live in. Let us look at this passage to learn some things about worship.


The first 5 points are all linked to the idea that worship is counter to our national culture in the UK.

1.  When we look at verse 5 it tells us that the people were celebrating with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals. In that time and place these instruments were used in all celebrations not just temple worship—at times of victory in war etc. In this worshipping nation there was no difference between their worship celebrations and their ordinary celebrations—God was always included and celebrated.

Our society leaves God out of everything. To be like this today is counter cultural. We, as Christian people, should include God in all celebrating. It is right that there shouldn’t be any difference for believers. All celebration is worship.

2.  The beginning of verse 5 tells us that they were celebrating with all their might. This is so un-British– fancy showing your passion! I often hear of criticism of worship that makes people emotional—ugh, what is going on? The Bible tells us to, “Love the Lord your God with all your might” that means with passion. We need to get past our stiffness and worship with all our might. Worship involves passion.

3.  In verse 20 we read, “how the King has distinguished himself…” Michal says this with great sarcasm. This behaviour would fit in very well in Britain today along with her cynicism. How unfitting it is shown to be when held up against David’s purity and freedom in his worship. These two behaviours easily taint our faith and we often do not notice it. They should not creep into our speech or our view of worship. Worship builds up.

4.  Also in verse 20 Michal describes David’s actions as those of a “vulgar fellow.” This is Michal’s pride talking. She wants to maintain a front of superiority. “We don’t behave like that.” In fact it is Michal who is behaving wrongly. We, in the western world, have historically been guilty of telling others that they should worship like us. What should be going on is that every person should be free to express their love to God freely. This disapproval goes on in many towns and cities today where one congregation look down on another because they are not “like us.” This is pride and should be exposed for the godless activity that it is.

Our attitude to other believers and our use of words should encourage and build up in worship not tear down. “They will know we are Christians by our love.” Worship is a humble offering.

5.  Looking back at v10 David had not been willing to take the ark into the City of David at first. I don’t blame David for this after what had previously happened but it is rather a ‘me’ response. How is this going to affect me? What can I get out of it?

This is a national trait in the UK today that is becoming ever stronger. Our churches are not exempt. Worship is not about self.

The next 3 things I have picked out of this passage remind us that our worship is also affected by our church culture and over-comes it.

1.  King David sent the ark to Obed-Edom, we read in verse 10. This was David’s choice, rather than taking it into the city with him. We often have choices made for us—in our churches this may be the type, style, length, time and day of worship. Equally our choices affect others. We need to be sure our choices will bring freedom not hinder others in their worship. Worship is flexible.

2.  In verse 19 we see David gave gifts to the crowd. Our worship should also over flow in practical ways to bless others. All that we do in church should start with our worship life. If we do not have a strong worship life then nothing else we do comes from God - it is just goodwill amongst townspeople and adds nothing to the kingdom. Worship overflows.

3.  Back at verse 5 we see that the whole house of God celebrated. Our church culture does not require people to come to worship regularly to our loss. Churches that put great emphasis on their members attendance do better than churches that say come when you can (not just in numerical growth but in spiritual maturity too). Churches which follow up non attendance attract people because they feel cared about. People who think that if they don’t go they will not be missed are so often proved right. Worship is about relationship.

Following our progression, the last two points are closer to home again.

1.  It was when David returned home that he found the greatest pressure on his worship life. It is the same for most of us. Your family may not be Christian but it is that overflow of blessing which we spoke about that will witness in the home—the way of life not the words. It may be that time and quiet are pressured and it is hard to find time and space to continue worshipping. It may be that you live alone and there is no personal encouragement and care. What did David do? Look at the end of verse 21. He made a conscious choice over and above all the other pressures “I will celebrate before the Lord.” Worship is a choice.

2.  The last point is about our personality in worship. In the end David realised Michal’s problem was her problem not his. He had a strong enough faith to rise above it and continue to worship God freely anyway. He had a strong enough relationship with God to keep God in his rightful place in his life. He put into practice his knowledge of God. Worship is an expression of self.

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This article © Linda Faber 2006-2009.