1 Chronicles 15:11-29, 2 Samuel 6:16-22, Luke 15:4-32, 1 Peter 1:3-9
Have you ever leapt for joy? David did. He and his men were proudly and joyfully bringing God’s Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. In Hebrew, the underlying emotion of all David’s celebrating/leaping/whirling/skipping is joy. David is so filled with joy, he expresses it in such a physical way that the bride of his youth despises him. We know little about Michal, but we can guess that she had certain expectations of how the King (oh, and her husband) should behave. David was having nothing to do with her expectations. His audience of joy was God. David did understand that others understood David’s behavior better than proud Michal.
The shepherd and woman in Jesus’ parables also acted exuberantly. It was time to Holy Party and it was okay for them to party. They were “only” lowly people. The kind that Michal looked down upon. Jesus makes it clear, though, that Heaven doesn’t care about where they fit in society. To add insult to the Michals of the world, Jesus then tells a tale of the wealthy father who dropped everything and gave a huge party for his wayward son who had abandoned his family, but had now returned. It was disgraceful.
David’s “inappropriate” joyful leaping and the wealthy father’s “disgraceful” party represent the unbounded love of God and the inhabitants of Heaven as one more person turns to Jesus as Savior. Think of the mess that accompany the opening of presents by little children. The paper and tape and ribbon and…it’s everywhere. Undisguised and unabashed abandon at ripping off the paper and ribbons. Yep, God can’t wait to open the “present” of someone turning to him.
Many of us were taught that God was angry, or vengeful, or judgmental, or unloving, or distant. Contrast this to the dirty shepherd hugging the missing sheep, the woman who turned her house upside down to find a coin, a dignified king willing to be a fool, and a father who saw his son and not a failure. That IS God. We talk about joy during Christmas. Any (and hopefully every) day is “Christmas” for God as he opens another present of a person rescued!
1) Why is it important to understand abandoning oneself when joyful?
2) Can you think of a time you “forgot” yourself, and where you were, and just let go? Think back, and compare the feeling (body, soul, mind) of “abandoning” joy, versus a time when you controlled your joyful response. Is there a difference?