As much as I hate to admit it, I care what people think about me. I’d love to be cool and tough and say that I don’t care, but I do. It’s why I sometimes take 15 minutes picking out the right outfit for the day … only to change at the last minute before I walk out the door.
Whether it’s the clothes I wear, the people I hang out with, the iPod I have (or don’t), I’m always wondering what people think. It even happens at church. Sometimes during worship I’ll be singing my heart out … really loud … right after everyone stopped singing. Idiot! And so I nervously look around to see who noticed. And in the next song, I’ll sing quieter. Or not at all. I’ll get so focused on what people might be thinking that I’m no longer focused on God. That’s why I like to read (and re-read) a crazy story from the life of David.
The story starts in 2 Samuel 5. In the beginning of his reign as king, David plans to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to God’s city—Jerusalem. (Remember that thing from Indiana Jones that melted the Nazis’ faces off? It’s that … minus the drippy-faced Nazis.) The Ark was Israel’s most sacred possession. It was a symbol of God’s presence, a reminder of what he had done, what he was doing, and what he would do. And it needed to be in Jerusalem. So in 2 Samuel 6:1-2, David and his men traveled to the house of Abinadab, who had been keeping the Ark safe and sound in his basement for 30 years.
David and his men couldn’t hold back their excitement. They’d hardly crossed the street with the Ark when the celebration kicked in and they were breaking out the piñata. The party continued all the way back to Jerusalem.
Throughout the journey home, David worshiped God with all of his might (2 Samuel 6:14-15). This was full body, no-holds-barred worship. It’s such a beautiful image … if you leave out one little part of the story. David was getting his praise on wearing nothing more than a linen ephod, a sleeveless undergarment that came down to about the hip. It was essentially nothing more than his underwear. (I’m wearing one right now; they’re surprisingly comfortable!) It’s a powerful picture, if not a little bizarre. A world leader, dancing and singing in front of all of his people, in his underwear.
Why does the Bible tell us about David’s ephod? Because it shows that David worshiped God not only with all his might, but also with complete abandon, with complete disregard of how he looked or what others thought, including his wife Michal. She was very offended that a king would be seen dancing around in his underwear. No wife likes to see her husband dancing through the streets in his underwear, especially not the wife of a king. But David didn’t care about how he looked or about what anyone else around him might think. His primary concern was worshiping God.
How cool is that? To be so lost in the glory of God that you could care less about how your voice sounds or how the person next to you sounds, or how you look, or who’s looking at you. David summed up his “God matters most” attitude in his response to his wife: “I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes” (2 Samuel 6:22, NIV).