12. And it was told king David saying, The LORD hath blessed the house of Obed-edom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness.
13. And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings.
14. And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.
15. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the voice of the trumpet.
16. And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul's daughter looked through a win-dow, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.
17. And they brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.
18. And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts.
19. And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. So all the people departed every one to his house.
20. Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to-day, who uncovered himself to-day in the eyes of the hand-maids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!
21. And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD.
22. And I will yet be more vile than this, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.
23. Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.
In the above passage of scripture, we have the account
of king David returning the ark of God to Jerusalem. As you recall,
it had been taken by the Philistines and sent part way back by them when
God smote them with a plague. David had tried to bring it back earlier,
in the wrong manner. He set it on a 'new cart,' but it was
supposed to be carried by the Levites. David got mad when Uzzah
was slain by God and let the ark be placed in the house of a heathen.
Now he takes courage and goes again to get it when he hears that God has
blessed the heathen man and his household due to its presence there.
David is so excited, that he dances and praises God all the way back to
Jerusalem, as do all the children of Israel. But we find that one
notable character is not involved in the procession of gladness, rather
is at home and is critical of David for his behavior. It is Michal,
his wife! Because of her critical attitude, she has no children from
that day on.
From this account we can see some significant spiritual parallels, if we look at the pictures and types within the story. It is a series of truths that applies to the churches today and why there are so few true converts, and it is this spiritual application that I wish to present in this booklet.
In the above account we see David, who is a picture of the Lord Jesus for sure, but also a type of the saints of God. Evidence of this is seen in Revelation 1:5 & 6, where the Apostle John writes, "...Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father..." Here we see that God has given the saints a dual blessing at salvation. We are elevated by our relationship with Christ, but we are also placed in a position to worship Him. In John chapter 4, when dealing with the woman at the well, Jesus "saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth." We see that God is desires worship, and seeks worshippers. It is the saints who are to fulfill this desire in their administration of their priestly office.
In our text from II Samuel, David is the king, but in this instance, is acting in a priestly role. This can be seen in the fact that verse 14 of our text says, "...David was girded with a linen ephod." Look at I Samuel 2:18, where it says, "...Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod." Of course Samuel ministered in the temple in the role of priest. So David is a type of the saints of God in this passage.
We might point out the reason for David's praise was not merely the return of a holy artifact, or the ark as a piece of furniture for the temple. The ark of the LORD brought with it the presence of God. It was above the mercy seat that God dwelt, as we see in Exodus 25:22, where God says, "And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony..." And in Numbers 7:89, we read, "And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spoke unto him." David was rejoicing because God was returning to the Israelites in manifestation! God is omnipresent, and so He was really with them all the time, but it was His manifested presence that David longed for.
Today, the presence of God is promised to the church when it assembles, as seen in Matthew 18:20, where Jesus said, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." But we have been missing His manifested presence in most of the churches for a long time. So we see that the story takes on further significance to the time in which we live.
David's attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem through means never intended by God shows the propensity of even the saints of God to fall into error and try 'new' ways. Here was a man after God's own heart who missed the ways of God. David thought he was doing well because he took the ark off the cart which the Philistines had made for it. Yet he was influenced by them in that he put it on another cart. It was neither the Philistines' nor God's, it was a 'new cart.' In our day and time man has made a salvation that is neither all of the world, nor is it all of God. Even as David's means of carrying the ark much more resembled the way of the Philistines than the means set forth by God, so the modern method of the church in presenting the things of God has a distinct resemblance to the world. These ways, however, are destined to fail, and will eventually be judged of God. In fact, they have been in our day as well, but many have not been able to discern it.
It is significant to note that in David's time judgement for failing to follow God's ways was swift and severe as Uzzah found out. Today God allows more to transpire with no apparent move on His part, but this should not be taken as a sure indicator that all is well. We also note that God's judgement in our time is associated with the spiritual more than the physical. We will see that barrenness on the part of the church does not refer to the physical reproduction of the saints, but lack of spiritual reproduction. The nursery role in a church may swell, but the church may still be barren. God still demands that His ways be followed if we are to see success in our efforts for Him. This is a fit topic for another booklet, as we don't have space to elaborate here. I mention it only as a precaution and motivation to be certain our methods and practices meet God's approval.
There is ample description in the text to indicate what David did in praising and worshipping God, and the manner in which he did it. Let it suffice to say that we surely can be in agreement that it was loud, long, intense, joyful, and varied in its manifestations. There was shouting, leaping, blowing of trumpets, waving of hands, etc. We know that it was not out of order, as it '...was before the LORD.' We can further be assured that it was proper, because God judged Michal for being critical of it. Now I shall show that praise is not out of order in the church today.
In Hebrews 13:15, we read, "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." In Luke 19:37, the Scripture says, "And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen." Luke 1:42 says Mary's cousin Elizabeth '...spake out with a loud voice..,' and John the Baptist who was still in her womb had a leaping fit! It was not a co-incidental 'kick' of a six month old fetus, as some might argue. It says he 'leaped.'
Some might argue that the new testament Scriptures do not describe instances of such praise as often as do the old, nor do the verses indicate the same level of intensity as we see in the old testament. Some might even argue that we are presuming if we think that it is proper to do these things now. We must be careful in this attitude, remembering that this is the reason the 'Church of Christ' [denomination] will not have musical instruments in their churches. Simply because we find no accounts in the new testament Scriptures where it says they were present in the early church. To this let me point out a few things to ease your mind.
We have seen in our text that folk were loud and prolonged in their praise in the old testament, but there are many, many, other accounts of similar instances. We need not expound on this. There is general agreement that this was an old testament practice. But we see that praise will also be loud and prolonged in heaven if we look to the book of Revelation. Revelation 7:9-10 should be sufficient to prove this. Here we read, "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb." One might also read Revelation 5:11-14 where it says angels numbering over one hundred million cry with a loud voice, "...Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them...[say]...Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." To assume that the interval which we occupy, between the old testament and heaven, is somehow to be different and quiet is more presumptuous than to assume it is the same, and that it ought to be loud.
I dealt with the 'Church of Christ' folk previously. Let me quickly insert here, that the same argument against their reasoning for the lack of musical instruments in their churches would apply. Since there were instruments used in old testament times, and they will be used in heaven, it is more presumptuous to eliminate them here than to use them! It may seem like a minor thing, but if God wants instruments used, we ought to use them if we hope to fully please Him!
We have much more to be praising God for than those in the old testament, which should make it impossible for us to be silent, as seen from the saints in heaven. One look at God up there will be sufficient to draw praise and acknowledgement from even the unbelievers. But the saints should have received enough at salvation, to elicit praise now!
Finally, let me point you to history and you will see that Baptists of old shouted and praised God and danced holy dances before the Lord. It was fear of being labeled charismatic, fear of what men would think, desire to gain great numbers, or an attempt to get the 'dignified folk,' and those with the money, which led away from this. Today it is largely due to ignorance of these facts among our people, and an unwillingness of the preachers to teach them, which keeps us where we are. From all of this we should be able to see that what David did would be fit and proper for us to do today.
Now that we have dealt with the validity of praise in the church today, and have shown from the Scriptures, and from history, that it is acceptable, I want to deal with another important aspect of praise. It has been in anticipation of this that the previous was set forth. The above has been preparing the soil, if you will, to accept the seed that follows. I want to deal with Michal and her attitude toward the praise, and the result of it. Then I wish to give application to our time with regard to the churches and the saints of God.
Let us note verse 16 of our text in II Samuel, where we read, "...Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD..." From this we can see that to begin with, she was in the wrong place. If we look back to verse 15, we read, "So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting..." She appears to be the only one who was not 'with the program.' But it was not her physical location alone that was the problem. She was where she was physically because of where she was spiritually. Her mind set was wrong. She wasn't thinking right. Notice that the account says each time it refers to her, that she was 'Michal Saul's daughter.' She was over in an area that hindered spiritual thinking. Saul was dead, and she was David's wife. Not only that, but she was the Queen. She was dwelling in an area that should have been put to death with Saul. Saul was a carnal king. He tried to kill David. He only gave his daughter to David to be a snare to him according to I Samuel 18:21. She was in such a place that God's presence meant little or nothing to her.
Then too, Michal had a wrong view of worship and praise. Notice that it said in verse 16, she "...saw king David dancing before the LORD." Yet she didn't see it for what it was. She saw the 'dancing,' but didn't see it as 'before the LORD.' This shows that a person can see the thing that is, but not see it as it is. Its like one who says, "I see your praise," but they don't really see praise as God sees it. To them it is a negative thing, or as Michal put it, a vile thing. These folk have a slanted view. Their perspective is off.
Because of her wrong opinion of praise, Michal had a wrong opinion of the one doing the praising. In verse 16, we are told, '...she despised him in her heart.' This doesn't mean she hated David, or even that she did not love him. I Samuel 18:20 tells us that '...Michal Saul's' daughter loved David.' One can argue all they want that Michal wasn't saved as we know salvation, and thus didn't really know love as saints do, or they may say she fell out of love with him, etc. But let the Scripture say what it says. It does not require that Michal hate David because it says she despised him. The word means she 'looked down on' David for his actions. In other words, she 'held him in contempt.' Notice that she belittles him for his actions in verse 20. She didn't say, "I hate you," or, "I despise you." She points out his supposed failure to act in a way she felt was required by his office.
Folk who are critical of shouting and praising God are often those who actually love the ones who are praising God. It is often those who are closest to those who claim the liberty that is theirs in Christ. It is a contempt of the actions that they are voicing when they become critical. It does not mean they don't love the person.
Michal's understanding of David's role was a singular and narrow one. She overlooked the priestly and saw only the kingly aspect of his office. This is evidenced by her statement in verse 20, where she says David '...uncovered himself...' He was NOT naked, as we saw from verse 14 which said he had on a linen ephod. What Michal despised was David taking off his king's robe and putting on priest's garb.
Let me anticipate another objection of those who would be critical of my position and who would argue that David was not a Levite, and thus was not acting in a priestly manner. They would maintain that it would have been out of order for him to do so. They might even point to Saul, who offered a sacrifice and was rejected from being king because of it, to prove their point. But there are several differences that make this an invalid argument.
First, Saul was presumptuous in his sacrifice. He offered it when it should have been offered by Samuel. Saul was out of order. Also, he offered it as king. There was no priest present, and Saul ordered it to be done. It was programmed, and forced, not spontaneous. Saul even said he 'forced himself.' Indeed, one of Samuel's comments was that the LORD had 'sought him a man after his own heart,' which demonstrates that it was not as much the action that was wrong, but the attitude. Samuel even said that had Saul been right in his attitude, God would have 'established his kingdom for ever.' Finally, Saul was only a king because the people demanded one. He is a picture of the false convert. The people demand results, and they are given them through plans, programs, prayers, and promise claiming. God is required to act. This is a problem in the churches today. Even if praise is offered, it is out of order, programmed, and with the wrong attitudes. It is offered by the wrong people, often those who are not even saved.
David was the opposite of Saul. He was the man after God's own heart, which Samuel said God was seeking. David even recognized that there was a difference between him and Saul. David said in our text, "..it was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father..." David's praise was offered out of a sense of appreciation for God choosing him.
David also pictures the liberty that the saints have in God. Remember the verse we saw earlier regarding Samuel as a child. We can point to several analogies to show that David is a picture of the saint, having a dual office.
In I Samuel 2:18, it said, "...Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod." First we note that Samuel was not a Levite. He was an Ephrathite, or a descendent of the tribe of Ephraim. He could not fulfill all the duties of the Levitical priesthood, but he was allowed to minister as a priest in some ways. This why he wore a linen ephod. He ministered the common duties of the priesthood. The high priest had a very costly ephod, as seen in Exodus 28:6-12. Jesus fulfilled the duties of the Levitical office, and as the high priest, but we are allowed the liberty to minister before the LORD though we are not the high priest nor Levites. We are ministers, especially, in our praise as we have seen. And this was so in David's case.
We also see, Samuel ministered 'being a child.' This has significance to his age, not his relationship. That is, it was not because of who's child he was that he ministered, but in spite of his age. We have a right to worship because we are the children of God, but the point proven here is the manner in which we may worship. We worship, as did David, after the manner of children. David said, "...therefore will I play before the LORD." It is the natural instinct of a child to be loud and boisterous. To be unhindered by opinions of others. As adults, we are taught to restrain ourselves from this, but when we go to activities where it is said there is playing taking place, we tend to revert to our childish manner. The best example of this is at a ball game, whether it be baseball, football, or basketball. The teams are said to be 'playing the game.' The folks get so involved, that they tend to lose their thoughts of restraint, and become as little children; loud and boisterous in their actions. In fact, we refer to them as 'fans,' which is short for 'fanatic.' This is what David looked like when he praised God, and this is the scene we picture in heaven if we see the verses from Revelation properly. One hundred million angels and a multitude of saints beyond our ability to number praising at the same time will NOT be quiet, dignified, and orderly!! Though it WILL be in order, as it is 'before the LORD.'.
One final proof that David was allowed liberty to act as priest is seen in his eating of the shewbread which was unlawful to be eaten by any other than the priests. Jesus referred to this incident approvingly, and it was recalled by Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Let me point out here, that our kingly position and our priestly position are not separate as some might infer from the way we have presented the points above. We may practice one or the other singly, but we do not divest ourselves of one to practice the other. David was still the king though he exchanged garments for a while. This is evident from verses 16 and 20, where he is referred to as the king, though he is accused of acting contrary to it. We acknowledge that David was never actually a priest, nor can we say with certainty that he was acting in a priestly role. This was the time of the Levitical priesthood. Remember, we are dealing with David as a type for purpose of illustrating spiritual truth. One thing is certain, however, and that is David was identifying with the priests and the common folk. He was over where they were! We are both kings and priests at the same time. We may operate in one realm at a time, but this does not contradict or nullify our position and claims in the other realm. We may lay aside one set of garments for another, but we may take them up again.
It is a sad truth that many folks today don't realize that we have a priestly ministry as well as a kingly ministry. This is why they do not understand how to operate in the spiritual realm. One who does not understand their position certainly will have problems knowing how to operate or function in that position.
I do not wish to add more confusion to those who find this a new doctrine, but I will say at this point that we also have a prophetical ministry. It is in this capacity that we tell others of their need for salvation. We are to preach the gospel to every creature. We are ambassadors for Christ, even as Paul said he was, speaking in Christ's stead. That is, we speak for Christ, and on His behalf. Paul said it was as if God were speaking. Space prohibits dealing with this at length, and it has little impact on the subject at hand, but it is worth at least a mention.
We also see that Michal was concerned about the opinions of others as evidenced by her reference to the 'handmaids of his servants.' She was concerned over what they should think of David. It is even likely that she was actually more concerned over what they would think of her. She thought David's actions reflected on her as well due to her relationship to him. You will find folk seldom give the actual reason for their criticism. Often, it is because they will not acknowledge the real issue themselves. Often, they do not even recognize the underlying motivation. It is a subcon-scious problem. But David discerned the true issue, as we see by his response in verse 22. He says, "...and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour." David knew what Michal meant when she scolded him, and what was in her heart. David's answer shows that people's opinions may fool those who are so worried over what others think. We never know what they will think, so why try to figure them out ahead of time. We ought to obey God and let those who are critical be so, and we may find there are some who will agree and praise God with us. Even more, David's reply shows that some will think more highly of us because of our praise. This is because it may give them liberty to join in, or it may help them get saved if they are lost. It demonstrates that what we have is worth having!
Saints have been silent for so long that the world thinks they have something better than we do. Look at the world at ball games, and parties, and their various activities. They get wild and vocal! The sad truth is, even professing Christians often make more noise at these activities than over the things of God. This tends to make the lost folk think saints enjoy God and salvation less than the worldly things. This leads them to believe Christians are hypocrites! It also shows that many professing Christians are more closely associated with worldly things than spiritual. They are at the least carnal, and many would do well to check out their salvation.
Now we shall deal with the greatest spiritual significance of this passage, and a main reason this booklet is being sent forth. The truths above are important, but I want to show why all of these things are crucial for us to understand. Let us see the results of the actions and attitudes of Michal, the one who despised the praising of God.
Our text says in verse 23, "Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death." Michal was barren as a result of her attitude towards the praising of God. One might say, "Surely God does not place that much emphasis on praise." To this I reply, "Again, Michal's attitude toward the praise of God was not the root of her problem, but the fruit." It is not because she would not praise that God made her barren, but because she did not love God. Michal had little or no appreciation for the presence of God as we saw earlier. This is why she despised praise. Her attitude towards God was wrong, which led to her attitude towards praise. If she had a real love for God and the things associated with Him, she would have been out there with the others.
In our churches today, folk have a wrong view of God as well as the presence of God. This is why there is a sad lack of true conversions. Preachers have taught that plans, prayers, programs, and promise claiming are sufficient to save folk. The presence of God is despised in practice, though few would dare to say out loud that they despise the presence of God. In fact, it may not even be recognized by the individual who despises it. They think they have the presence of God because folk respond to the message. Because great numbers have 'made decisions.' Yet most of the time this is simply due to conscience and worldly sorrow on the part of those responding, which according to II Corinthians 7:10, worketh death. If the response is due to the presence and power of God working in the individual, it is in likely in honor of the truth being preached, and the presence of God leaves as soon as the same old fleshly techniques are applied at the altar.
Some might refer us back to the verse that I quoted earlier, where Jesus said He would be in the midst of those who gather in His name, to refute this. They would argue that it makes no difference whether we despise His presence or not, He will be there. But my reply is that the presence of God may not be manifested though Jesus is there. In fact, God is everywhere, but there is more to it than this, or Jesus' promise would simply be a repetition of a truth we already know. And it certainly would not have had the reassuring affect that He obviously meant it to have. We have all experienced services where we knew Jesus was there, because of the promise, but there was no sense of it among the people. There was not enough manifested presence of God to save anyone. There wasn't even enough to get the ones who were saved stirred up. This is a truth that is foreign to many of our people today.
I would refer the reader to Scriptures where Jesus could do no great miracles due the people's unbelief. Yet it was an unbelief which arose out of despising who He was. He was present with them, but they saw Him as the carpenter's son, etc. The scriptures say He could only heal a few sick folk. When He was allowed to manifest Himself for who He was, people had their sins forgiven, and they got joyful over it!!
One might ask what the difference is, and what is the application to the churches today. I would respond that we have enough presence of God to heal a few sick folk, that is some are coming out of the world, but they are not saved. They have not experienced the forgiveness of sins. They have religion, but no God. God may have moved on them, but the work was not a complete work due to attitudes and practices foreign to God's desired ways. When God shows up in a manifesting manner, folk get the real thing. They become new creations in Christ Jesus. And they know they have been changed. Joy in the heart of an individual is one of the accompanying results of salvation. It is a joy that ought to be of sufficient degree to make that individual want to vocalize it.
When I think back to my two empty professions of faith as a young person, one at twelve, and one at fourteen, I really believe there was more than conscience involved. I believe the presence and power of God moved me due to the truth being preached. The problem lay in the fact that methods and prayers took the place of His presence at the altar, and the work that was begun was short-circuited. When I got real salvation and experienced the forgiveness of sins and the liberty which is in Christ, it was when I loved the truth and allowed God to do the work. I waited on the manifested presence of God to save me with power. When I say manifested presence, I do not mean that I saw a 200 foot Jesus or some vision, nor did I feel tingling throughout my body, etc. I simply waited until I knew that God was there, and that He was there to save me. I was appreciative of the fact that He had worked throughout my life to get me to where I was. Though I recognized that He did not have to save me, there was no doubt at that moment that He could and would do it. It was what He had been working towards all my life! I knew, even as David knew, that God had His mind on me. He had chosen me before I ever thought about Him. How could He not save me? He didn't have to, but He did have to. God purposed it, so God had to perform it! And when God saved me, people didn't have to tell me what happened, I told them. Salvation, like Paul's gospel, came, '...not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance..,' I Thessalonians 1:5.
Notice, again, that Michal was never referred to as David's wife. She was always referred to as 'Michal Saul's daughter.' We dealt a little with this earlier, when we presented her wrong thinking. Let me say at this point, that, in this, she is a picture of an unbeliever. That is, she is a type of a lost person. Michal is never seen as having had a relationship with David as his wife. She lived in the palace, enjoyed the benefits of being with him, such as talking to him, eating with him, and being cared for by him, yet she never really was a wife to him. She was what her father wanted her to be, and what she was sent there to be. She was a snare to David. Michal is a picture of the tares sown by an enemy of God. The tares are sown by their father, who is the devil. Am I inferring from this that all those who despise praise are lost? Or that those who simply do not praise are not saved? Certainly not. Up to this point, I have presented Michal as a type of the Christian with the wrong attitudes produced by the wrong views. But there is no escaping the fact that she also represents a false believer. Not a lost person outside the church, but one within the household. Look at verse 20 of II Samuel, where we read, "And David returned to bless his household." Those who despise praise are lost religious folk, or they are saved folk with attitude problems. I will leave it to God to tell the critics to which class they belong. I will say that they must be one or the other. There is no neutral position!
Let me point out here, that Michal is a picture of individuals, and also the churches. If an individual despises the praises of God, they will be spiritually barren in their personal life. By this I do not mean necessarily that they will not lead anyone to Christ, though this is likely true.
For some reason when we speak of barrenness or fruit-bearing in the life of a believer, most folk automatically jump to the conclusion it has application to soul-winning. Yet the Scriptures teach far more often that fruit deals with attitudes and inner condition rather than external actions and their results. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. External actions such as tithing, witnessing, church attendance, etc., are second generation fruit produced from the seeds of these first generation fruits, which are produced by salvation and the operation of the Spirit in the believer.
When I say that those who despise praise will be barren, I mean they will have no expressed joy, since praise is the expression of joy. There may be a supposed sense of appreciation for salvation, but it will be merely a mental affirmation of facts seen or heard. It will not be a true appreciation born out of an experiential encounter with a living God. Psalm 22:3 says, "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." These folk will have no presence of God in their private lives. They will have no knowledge of what it is like to have God love on them as they go about their daily activities, or what it is like to sense God next to them while they reflect on what God has done for them at salvation. Their knowledge of God will be what they read in the Bible and other books, or what they have heard some preacher say. It will be a factual rather than actual knowledge of God. These people will be critical and cold towards those who praise God and who experience His manifested presence through this means as long as they continue to despise praise.
If a church despises the praises of God, she will be barren and devoid of true converts, and will produce only folk who have come out of the world. There will be constant strife and division and no lively joy. Services will be cold and formal. There may be the same supposed appreciation of salvation as in the case of the individual above. But it is merely a collective mental affirmation rather than an individual one.
One may argue that in the case of a church, which is comprised of many individuals, one cannot apply the type in its strictest sense, and thus we cannot say that the church which does not allow praise will never see anyone truly saved. This is so. There may be an occasional person who gets real salvation in spite of the church's overall attitudes. But this is because if the truth is preached, God will honor it. But even if one does get real salvation in spite of the church's attitude, that individual will not stay. They cannot stay. They must go where the liberty to praise the One who gave them life is granted. That church will thus be ultimately barren.
But even as there is a caution to those who would despise the praise of God, there is a promise to those who appreciate and practice it. Those who joined David in praise, received '...every one, a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine...' Don't you know when the king gave them these gifts, they went home rejoicing all the more! The praise of God is motivational. It moves God. It causes Him to desire to come and meet with His people. Our God is not an impersonal God. He loves to be appreciated in a way worthy of His Being. The angels and all those in heaven recognize this, the old testament saints recognized this, and some folks in the churches recognize this. God has given us a record in the Word of God that this is what He desires. May we respond to this with a genuine praise born out of a genuine appreciation of who God is, and what He has done for us, particularly in salvation.
We also see from Psalm 33:1 that praise is comely, or beautiful for the upright. God thinks we look good praising Him. It's like when we say an outfit on a lady is very becoming. It enhances, or compliments her natural looks. Psalm 147:1 goes further and says it is not only comely, but pleasant. That is, it brings pleasure to the one who praises, and the one being praised. I cannot speak for the reader, but as for me, I want to look good to God, so I'll just praise Him!
In closing, let me leave the reader with one final principle. It was a principle that David lived by, and that he has given to us through his Psalms. It is the 'I will' principle. Thirty-nine times in the book of Psalms, David says, "I will..." when referring to praising God! The reader is free to get a Strong's concordance to find them all, but let us look at just a few now.
Psalm 7:17, says, "I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness..." From this we can see at least two things. First, that David's praise is not something that always comes from God moving on him to do so. Some folk have the idea that one only praises when moved on by God, that is, when they can't help it. If that were so, God would not be honored, because it would be something He initiated. It would be like my wife prodding me to tell her I love her; "Please, tell me you love me." What sense of satisfaction would be derived from that? My telling her that I love her should be out of a sense of my true feelings for her, and out of a desire to let her know it. If my wife did ask me to tell her, it would be a sure sign I wasn't doing it enough on my own! God desires our praise to be spontaneous, and as a result of our true feelings toward Him. If one waits for God to move on him, it likely means there hasn't been enough voluntary praise. God is starving for attention in that person's life!
Let me hasten to add that it is not forced in the sense of the word that Saul's sacrifice was forced, even though it is forced in the sense that one makes himself do it. But it is not done grudgingly, or because we feel obligated to do it, rather with joy, and appreciation of God's person and God's performance. It is because one wants to do it, and has the liberty to do it.
Secondly, we see that David's will is stirred by a worthy motive. David does not just say, "I will praise God merely to be praising God." He seeks to find just cause for praise. This should be easy for a believer to do, even as it was for David. David found his purpose for praise in the righteousness of God. I believe David also found purpose for his praise's intensity here. David says, "I will praise God according to his righteousness..." In other words, David's praise would be in proportion to God's righteousness. This means it would be intense, for God's righteousness is total righteousness. This is why David danced before the LORD 'with all his might' in II Samuel 6:14!
Let us look at Psalm 9:1, where David says, "I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvellous works." Again, David intentionally finds cause to praise God, and again, it is with great intensity that he does it. It is with his whole heart, or as we might say, 'whole-heartedly.' But further, here his praise is meant to inform others of all the things God has done for him, especially regarding his salvation. as seen in verse 14, where David further emphasizes the fact that his praise in this instance is to 'show out,' or 'to be seen.' Let us go back to our illustration of the fans at a sporting event. We all know that one who is loud and boisterous is not likely to go unnoticed, though one might make an attempt to ignore them. Their presence and preference are obvious. They attract attention. They desire to influence either the players, the officials, the other fans, or all of the above. For this same reason, God wants us to be outwardly evident in our praise, and why we should want to be this way. It ought to be our purpose to be seen at times, especially when we want others to know what God has done for us, and what we think about it.
Let us look at Psalm 18:3, where David says three things of importance. The first we have seen, and that is that he wills it. David gets in a position of voluntarily praising God. Secondly, his motivation in this instance is that God is worthy of praise. David praises God because God deserves it. It is an act of obedience as much as it is an act of appreciation. If God deserves praise, it is our duty to do it. God's worth demands praise. Thirdly, we see that there is an attendant benefit to this praise. David says it will bring deliverance from his enemies. The phrase 'so shall I be saved from mine enemies,' shows that it as a result of praise that David expects to be delivered. Is it the praise itself that does this? No; rather it motivates God to respond and protect the one who praises Him. This person is one of God's prized possessions. He will not let that person go and lose His praise.
One final Psalm we ought to look to is Psalm 52:9, where we read, "I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait upon thy name; for it is good before the saints." Here we see that the duration of our praise will be endless. Yet it must have a beginning. Some may wait until they arrive on heaven's shore to begin, but David's admonition would be to begin here, as he said, '...it is good before the saints.' I would add, "It is perfect before God!"
We could look at many more of these Psalms, but space prevents it. The reader should see in the ones we have shown the truth we are attempting to set forth. Look them up for yourself, at your leisure, and you will find they bear witness with one another.
We have shown what the Scriptures teach about praise and the applications of spiritual truths associated with praise. If you were one who despised praise, I trust that you will not 'kick against the pricks,' but will get in line with the truth. I know that you will find it brings satisfaction and the peace that accompanies obedience to God's way of doing things. If you were already one who loves praise and one who practices praise, I hope that you were blessed and reinforced in your confidence that praise is fitting and proper in our lives today.
I want to thank the reader for taking the time to read this. I hope it has been a help. If you desire further information, if you wish to comment, or if you want additional copies of this in booklet form, e-mail us. Booklets are furnished at no cost as our funds allow. You may also obtain a list of other booklets available by e-mailing. May the Lord bless you. - J. M. G.
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