DANCING WITH GOD
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
OCTOBER 22, 2016
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
“Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with timbrel and lyre!” (Psalm 149:3, RSV)
Dancing was frowned upon by the Fundamentalist, sectarian church of my youth, because it might lead to something even more sinful. Since I was one step beyond naive, I never knew what that meant exactly, but nevertheless, I did not dance, ever. When Lenny and I married, I discovered that he was a fabulous dancer, having been pressed into the role of his older sister’s dance partner when they were teens. Even though we took dance lessons so I could learn some of the basic steps, I never seemed to get it right. Two left feet perhaps?
Yet, the Bible has many instances of dancing in the joy of the Lord, or to celebrate something notable. The story of David bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem is a good illustration. The Ark had been at the house of Abinadab for safe keeping. For the back story on how the Ark intervened between Israel and their enemies, the dastardly Philistines, read I Samuel, Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7:1.
Once King David had defeated the Philistines, he and thirty thousand chosen men “set out to bring up the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the Ark,” (II Samuel 6:1-2) You may remember the story, about how the Ark was placed on a new cart to bring it to Jerusalem, rather than being carried on the shoulders of the Kohathites (sons of Levi), as Moses had instructed them (See Numbers 4:4-5; 15).
God’s instructions about how the Ark was to be transported were very specific. Anyone other than a Levite who touched it would die. Sure enough, as the Ark was being carried by ox cart, the oxen stumbled and Uzzah, Abinadab’s son, reached out to steady the Ark. “The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the Ark of God.” (II Samuel 6:7, NIV) He was instantly struck dead. No doubt he was trying to honor his father’s commitment to keep the Ark safe, but he disobeyed the commandment and was executed on the spot in spite of his good intentions.
As an aside, I’ve always been fascinated about what exactly killed him (Too many crime dramas, no doubt, make me wonder about the forensic evidence). Was it a heart attack, a stroke, poison, or just what? Likewise, when Moses was not allowed to go into the Promised Land, but was allowed only to view it from Mount Nebo where God took him to die, how did he die? (See Deuteronomy 34:1-8). What exactly killed him? But I digress.
David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah (II Samuel 6:8), and terrified as well, too fearful of the Lord to take the Ark to the City of David, where he had intended it to go. Instead, he had it taken to the house of Obed-Edom, the Gittite, where it remained for three months. Because the Lord blessed this man and his entire household, David’s courage returned and he retrieved the Ark, this time having the proper men carry it, and as they traveled, after every 6 steps, David sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. The text relates that, “David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.” (II Samuel 6:14-15, NIV) What did God think of this dancing king, you wonder? David’s wife Michal, daughter of King Saul, his old enemy, was watching the whole spectacle from a window and, “when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.” (II Samuel 6:16, NIV)
God was pleased with David’s dancing and his offering of sacrifices, but He was NOT pleased with Michal’s attitude, for she was made barren from that day forward. Dancing is a human reaction to great joy, and yet, I never, ever considered dancing with God until fairly recently. Perhaps that is fall-out from my upbringing, and the fact that in my formative years, I never heard anyone talk about the many scriptures which declare God loves us! You don’t want to dance with someone who may strike you dead for violating His commandments.
The story of Uzzah’s execution always struck terror in me because I grew up fearing God, and was taught that He no longer healed the sick, raised the dead, or performed any miracles for us because the Holy Spirit went back to heaven after the last apostle died. As I said, there was never a sermon about the love of God, only the wrath of God. I thought I loved God, but how can you really love a being who may strike you dead at the slightest infraction of His rules, which is how I viewed Uzzah’s sin in my youth. I feel sure David felt the same way exactly, which is why he made sacrifices every 6 steps, and why he danced for joy when God allowed the Ark to arrive in Jerusalem with all participants (except the bull and fattened calf), safe and sound. Who can blame him? Certainly not I!
On a human level, we would not want to dance with anyone who hated us, was cruel to us, or who threatened dire punishment for disobedience. A person like that would be the last one we would ever want as a dance partner. It seems to me that the more fearful of God we are, the more we tiptoe around, hoping not to provoke His wrath. Once the veil is removed from our eyes allowing us to see how much He loves us, and how much He cares for us and helps us with every little problem we have, only then might we wish to dance with God. Even if dancing isn’t our thing, we want to fellowship with Him, talk to Him, hear Him speak with us, feel His love encompassing us as he swirls us around to the divine music of life.
In 2002, the Spirit gave me this poem, entitled “Seeing God,” which illustrates the point I’m making.
I find it very odd that we can’t see you God.
What does it mean that you can’t be seen?
Where do you go when you go away,
When I can’t find you night or day?
I want to hug you and hold your hand;
I want you to show me the Promised Land.
Take me where I’ve never been.
Come on Father, let me in.
I want to see hinds feet on high places,
Stags running fleet races,
Mountain crags and meadows lush,
Roaring waters and twilight’s hush.
Here I am child, open your eyes.
See me in a sunset’s purple skies,
in the smile on a baby’s face,
The galaxies swirling out in space.
See me in trees after a shower,
Flowers blooming in a hidden bower.
Displayed in beauty everywhere,
I am in the hearts of all who care.
Open your mind; see with your heart
That we are not ever really apart.
I live in you. You live in me.
We’re together forever, eternally.
You are my child, created to love,
To be sent to creation, below and above.
Love is the key for you to see,
That I am in everything, for all came from me.
Open your eyes child, drink it all in,
The unseen is God, who will never end.
In atoms and protons, in all DNA,
In all my creation, at work or play.
In you, and through you and as you,
I’m helping and guiding and leading you
Through the tight spots and dim places of your life
Through sin and trouble and gloom and strife.
I made it, I sent it, and I’ll bring you through,
It all depends on me, not on what you do.
So, sit back child, relax and smile,
For this life lasts such a little while.
At the end of your personal story,
You’ll come to walk with me in glory,
where, with all creation throughout time and space,
You will behold your God, face to face.
Written for the Saints of the world on 5/8/02
One of my favorite hymns is “Lord of the Dance.” Click on this link to see and hear the You Tube video. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvmIDdCyFTc). I love it so much I made a ring tone out of it. Here is the first verse and chorus:
I danced in the morning when the world was begun.
I danced on the moon and the stars and the sun
I came down from heaven and danced on the earth
In Bethlehem I had my birth
“Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the dance, says He.
I lead you all wherever you may be, and
I lead you all in the dance says He.”
The thing about dancing with God is this: “If you want to dance with God, you have to turn loose of the rails.” You don’t get intimate fellowship with the Divine by following rules and regulations, by espousing correct doctrine, by avoiding sin and corruption, by asceticism and legalism. You receive an intimate relationship with God by the Spirit through love and personal interaction, just the same way we do with loving human relationships. If dancing with God fills you with fear, you cannot hear the music or feel His arms around you guiding you through the dances of your life. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us.” (I John 4:18-19, RSV)
Father, we want to feel Your arms around us, leading us in the divine dance to Your heavenly music, experiencing You up close and personal, at a cellular level. Fill us up with Yourself that we may share Your music with those who don’t know You yet. We give You blessing and honor and glory for ever, and, we add our voices to “the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Amen.
DANCING with GOD [Jan A. Antonsson] 10-22-16 1