Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Michal and the Quest for an Unsoiled Reputation

Photo Courtesy of: Emile Seguin

So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. So they brought the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it. Then David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. And when David had finished offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts.Then he distributed among all the people, among the whole multitude of Israel, both the women and the men, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins. So all the people departed, everyone to his house. 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 today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!’ So David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor.’ Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.” ~2 Samuel 6:15-23

There’s no doubt in my mind that David was quite a case. Sure, he was deemed a man after God’s own heart, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have issues. Because he definitely did! He was married to multiple women and housed many concubines besides, he had what appears to have been a rather forceful affair with Bathsheba, he essentially murdered Bathsheba’s husband, and then we read of these issues between him and his wife, Michal in 2 Samuel 6. 

Now, whether Michal was on the right side of this argument or David was, this account nevertheless raises some important issues to consider. After all, isn’t a “a good name to be chosen rather than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1a)? Shouldn’t we care about what our actions and lifestyle choices are saying about the God Whom we claim to serve?

In a way, yes. Absolutely. We should certainly seek to live upright lives to the praise and glory of God’s name. We should do what is right and forsake doing what is wrong. By living in this way, we will naturally develop a reputation for being living, joyful, peaceful, patient and so on if we are walking by the Spirit (see Galatians 5:16-23). 

But there is a key component here which we often easily forget: the world will always view Christ and His ways as weird, old-fashioned, out of style, or wrong. God’s ways are not the ways of the world, nor the ways of our natural in-born sin nature. This means, then, that sometimes living in accordance with God’s standards will mean appearing rather backwards to the world. And sometimes it will lead to a soiled reputation in the eyes of the world. The question is, are we okay with that?

Whether it was appropriate for David to dance around nearly naked in the presence of others and whether that was something God wanted him to do or just something he thought he should do, are certainly questions up for debate. But there was something Michal needed to remember, as well, and it is this: sometimes the watching world is going to think we’re crazy. And that is okay, as long as we are living lives that bring honor and glory to the Lord.

This holiday season, where is your focus? Are you striving to appear perfect, normal, and “relevant” to the watching world? Are you trying to impress the world, show them you’re hip, and make them think that being a Christian means you can be pretty much like the world still? Or are you willing to appear a little weird for the sake of walking in the footsteps of Christ?

Because the truth of the matter is, Jesus certainly had a soiled reputation in the eyes of certain folks of His day. Some thought His theology was off, others thought He was a lunatic, still others thought He was loose with His morals because He dined with tax collectors and sinners. But did any of that truly matter? No, because He was walking in step with His Father’s ways moment by moment, day by day. He was fulfilling His mission on earth, and that is what is important - regardless of what exactly the watching world has to say about it.

So, friend, this Christmas  consider this your permission to relax, rest, and take a deep breath. Permission to let go of the expectations of others. Permission to delight in who God made you to be and how He desires for you to live. Permission to only live to please an audience of One - the Lord Himself. The moment we can let all other concerns, fears, people-pleasing tendencies, etc., go, that is when we will experience the sweet freedom which comes with only be concerned with what the Lord thinks of us. I encourage you to lean into that permission and freedom today, friend. It will be good for your soul!

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