Key verse: 2 Samuel 6:22
Big idea: When God reigns in our lives, no one else's judgments matter.
Since our last reading, David has consolidated his reign over all twelve tribes, set up his capitol in Jerusalem and intended to bring the ark there. For the journey of about nine miles, David secured a previously unused cart. It was clearly intended to be an act of reverence, no cart that had ever carried anything else was worthy of carrying the ark of the Lord. They began their journey with all kinds of instruments and a tone of celebration. Then, when the ark began to fall, Uzzah reached out to stop it. He certainly intended to respect the ark, but paid for it with his life. David tried to bring the ark to Jerusalem on his own terms, with his own ideas about how to respect God, but it would never work. In fear, David stopped the ark for several months, until he heard how God was blessing the household where it was. David was reminded that God is a blessing God, and that the judgment of Uzzah was a response to their sin, not a sign that God wasn't good. So he prepared to bring the ark to Jerusalem, but carried by people this time, apparently with no instruments but trumpets and voices, and David himself led the procession, wearing a linen ephod. It certainly looked less dignified than the first attempt, but it was what God wanted.
The party took six steps from Obed-Edom's house to see if God would permit them to continue, and offered sacrifices of thanksgiving when He did. As they proceeded, David danced ("twirled") before the Lord with all of his strength, in worship. His wife and the daughter of Saul, Michal, looked down from a window and despised David. This was no way for a king to behave. A linen ephod was little more than a loincloth, and while a child might wear it, it was hardly appropriate for a grown man, and still less the dignity of a king. When Michel accused David of humiliating himself before the servants, what she probably meant was that he had humiliated her. But she had revealed her heart in any case. David explained that he was not dancing before the servants, but before God, and that he did not care what anyone else thought. Before God, he was happy to be humiliated. David knew that when he honored God that God would bless him, and told Michel that the servants would honor him just the same. In their first attempt to move the ark, people would have been pleased. In the second, God was.
Discussion idea: Why was God so particular about how the ark was moved? How can we replace God's will with what seems good to us or what looks good to others in worship?
Prayer focus: Ask God to teach you to be humbled before Him, and to trust Him to exalt you before others.
Key verse: Romans 3:23
Big Idea: The gospel is the universal solution to the universal problem of sin.
Suppose I ate a bacon cheese Whataburger, with a large order of fries and a chocolate malt (any similarity to actual events is purely coincidental). I took in a lot of bad things: saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt. Maybe later that day, I started to feel guilty about it. How many salads with low-fat dressing would I need to eat to cancel that out? Unfortunately, that is not the way it works.
Maybe I had a bottle of water, with a little poison in it. How much tea do I need to add to the poisoned water before the good tea cancels out the bad poison? Silly questions. Good things do not cancel out bad things, and what is true in the physical world is even more critical in the moral. No amount of time in a soup kitchen can ever excuse a murder. Good deeds can never remove the burden of sin.
Romans 1 and 2 have laid out the case against humanity. Whether we have violated our conscience and the testimony of nature like the Gentiles or violated God's revealed Law through hypocrisy like the Jews, we all have the same problem: sin. The Bible denies the claim that people are basically good. Instead, God tells us that we are all God's good creations, but have been warped and disfigured by the Fall. Our actions and our desires alike have been bent to the wrong ends. We all stand accountable to God, and we all fall short. There is no room for pride because every human being is in the same position. Our behavior can never solve the problem, and the more we try, the worse it gets.
This bad news can only be counteracted by the very good news that God has done the work for us. God's Law pointed toward real righteousness, but it could never get us there because of our own weakness. Instead, God has given us righteousness apart from the Law by giving us righteousness as a gift. Our sin earns us death, but He died in our place. No matter who we are, no matter what we have done, there is one problem and one cure—Grace through faith.
Discussion Idea: How can God, who is a perfect, holy Judge, forgive us without sacrificing justice?
Prayer Focus: Thank God that when we could never get to Him, He came down to us.