Plumb the Text, Form the Sermon

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I am beginning to prepare my sermon and I think I will be using I have done in my OT Hermeneutics and Homiletics class as the base. The method used for preparing the paper is based on Elizabeth Achtemeier's "Plumb the Text, Form the Sermon". I still need to do a lot of work especially to research more on the Ark of the Covenant but basically, I should already have the points and the flow.

My 1000-word paper:

Plumbing the Text and Forming the Sermon from 2 Samuel 6:12-23

Plumb the Text

This passage gives the closing to the Ark Narrative that is found in 1 Sam 4:1-7:1, 2 Sam 6 and 1 Chr 13-15. Historically, the ark is a constant reminder to the Israelites of the holy presence of God – God is with them in their journey through the desert and during their conquest for land. The ark however, was captured during the time when religious life was at its lowest; the presence of God was no longer with the Israelites.

The 2 Sam 6:12-23 passage is therefore very significant. The ark is to be transported to the newly established capital in Jerusalem under the reign of King David. The presence of God is to return to the life of the Israelites as a nation.

The importance of this passage is evidence in the author’s emphasis on several aspects.

Firstly as mentioned, the ark is returning as a visible symbol of the return of the presence of God to Israel as a nation. Secondly, David is leading the procession taking on a priestly role by evidence of his linen ephod in place of his kingly robe. He sets an example to his people to serve the LORD, indicating that he is one with the people in service to God. Thirdly, David danced with all his might as a witness to the importance of the presence of the ark and as an act of worship to God. Fourthly, sacrifices were made to God at the onset of the procession acknowledging God’s power and providence, seeking for atonement of their sins, to express thankfulness for his blessings and to seek for a safe transfer. Burnt offerings, the epitome of all offerings and sacrifices, and peace offerings were made at the end of the procession. The burnt offering signifies David’s representation of the nation as a total and absolute dedication of himself and his people to God, while the peace offering denotes that Israel is already by the atonement at peace with God. Fifthly, David blesses his people as a sign to them that God is in their midst , that covenantal blessings are sure to come in the presence of the ark. Lastly, Michal becomes barren as a result of her priority that is evident based on her behaviour over David’s action.

Form the Sermon

The Ark of the Covenant is the holiest of all things to the Hebrew people . It is a visible sign that God is dwelling in their midst. Therefore, it must first and foremost be established that God must be the most important in the life of a Christian by evidence of the presence of God in his life. More than that, David knew that the ark must rest in the most central place in the life of the nation: Jerusalem, the heart of the kingdom, of life and of worship. In parallel, we must, like David, ensure that it is fundamental that God must be at the most central part of our lives: the heart of everything we do.

There are four things to take into account from this passage: David’s linen ephod, David’s dance, David’s offerings and sacrifices, and David’s gifts to the people.

David removed his kingly robe and donned a linen ephod, symbolic of a priestly role. Before God, he is acknowledging his servanthood. To David, the linen ephod represents who he is before the LORD. To us, David’s linen ephod reminds us who we are before the LORD. We may be leaders in our establishment and church as David is king, but before God, we are but servants.

David danced before the Lord with all his might. There is no second guessing; he has no qualm about it. He did it with all his might. In response to Michal outburst over his outward and lowly expression unbefitting of a king, he said to her that he will be even more undignified if need be, to celebrate before the LORD. To David, his dance represents the worth and heart of his worship. To us, David’s dance sets the standard of the quality of our worship. Just like David, we must not have any misgivings over our act of worship to God. We must worship will all our might. This however, does not mean that we should start dancing and shouting from this Sunday onwards! It must be understood that dance and music as portrayed in 2 Samuel is typical and customary in David’s days. It is common. What is significant is David’s heart. He worshipped with all his might; with all of himself: body, soul and mind – and this is what God seeks in our worship. Worship him with all our might – in our songs, in our music, in our prayers, in our words.

David began and completed the moving of the ark with sacrifices and offerings. These sacrifices and offerings are laden with purpose and significance. They are meant to accomplish and bring about something. To David, the sacrifices and offerings represents his frailty before God in the acknowledgement of his sovereignty, offering him thanksgiving, seeking for his favour, giving of himself and seeking peace by atonement. To us, David’s sacrifices and offerings reminds us that he must increase and we must decrease (John 3:30). As it is with the sacrifices and offerings in the beginning and the end of the moving of the ark, we must decrease ourselves for God to be the center of our being.

David blessed the people with gifts as part of the celebration. To David, the gifts represents the symbolic blessings of God that with God back in the center of their nation, their lives will be full again. To us, David’s gifts to the people remind us of our responsibility to the people around us. God blessings must be shared. We are responsible to spread the goodness of God to the people around us to signify oneness in God and the bounteousness of God’s blessings in the body of the church.

In closing, we finally turn to Michal. It is notable that she is identified in this passage as Saul’s daughter rather than David’s wife, implying her choice in position and attitude; not with David in rejoicing but with her father in despising (1 Sam 18). While the entire house of Israel was out rejoicing, Michal stayed home loathing; while David returned home with blessings to give, she greeted him with curses to give. To David, Michal attitude represents the response to the ark of God, the presence of God. To us, Michal’s attitude reminds us of our response to the presence God. Are we complaining while others are rejoicing; are we cursing while others are blessing? How do we act in response to the presence of God? We need to time and again remind ourselves with the linen ephod, the dance, the sacrifices and offerings, and the gifts of blessing.

Picture by Nicole Shelby

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