2 Samuel 6:12-18; Luke 7:31-35; Luke 15:17-32.
These Scriptures, dear brethren, bring in the thought of dancing, and the exercises that relate to it. In the first scripture in Samuel, David is exercised to bring up the ark. He first brought it up in a way which was not according to the due order, not according to the divine order. But still, David's desires were right. He desired that the ark (which refers to the Lord Jesus typically) should be brought into its rightful place. So David says, "We heard of it at Ephratah, we found it in the fields of the wood." We have a hymn that begins, "I've found a friend, Oh, such a friend", and I wonder if each of us has found Jesus as our personal Friend!
Well, David notes that the household of Obed-Edom is blessed when the ark was carried aside into that household. "The ark of Jehovah remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite three months"; and Jehovah blessed Obed-Edom and all his household. And it was told king David, saying, Jehovah has blessed the house of Obed-Edom, and all that is his, because of the ark of God." I believe that God would exercise our hearts in view of the ark having its rightful place among the saints. The place prepared for the ark here is not the place in the temple, as Solomon prepares for it. Solomon built the temple, a house for God to dwell in, but with David it is a simpler matter. It is a tent that David had spread for it, and that bears on the Lord Jesus in the area of the testimony. In this setting, as the ark is brought up, there is opposition. It says of Michal, that she "saw king David leaping and dancing before Jehovah, and she despised him in her heart." Michal is Saul's daughter, and her opposition is of the same character as Saul's, but thankfully, it is not the opposition in its full-blown character, as it was in Saul. It is in a narrower, more limited way. It says, she "looked through a window." Thank God there is a limitation to Michal's opposition in this setting!
But king David is here, leaping and dancing before Jehovah. Think of his joy! It says, "David danced before Jehovah with all his might." And he "brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom into the city of David with joy." David's exercises are now according to the due order, in full accord with God's thoughts as to how the ark should be brought up into the city of David. The city of David suggests the area of administration where the rights of David, the rights of the Lord Jesus, are fully maintained.
So the ark is brought up now in a way which results in blessing for the people. "And when David had ended offering up the burnt-offerings and the peace-offerings, he blessed the people in the name of Jehovah of hosts." It is wonderful that the ark is brought up into the city of David, to the tent that is spread for it. There is nothing grand or pretentious in the surroundings or the setting of the ark there, but David is concerned that the ark should have its rightful place in the testimony, and it brings in response to God, offerings to God, and blessing for the people in the name of Jehovah. It goes on to say, "he dealt to all the people, to the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to every one a cake of bread, and a measure of wine, and a raisin-cake." There is food and blessing and stimulation for the people, as a result of the ark, the Lord Jesus, brought into His rightful place in the affections of the saints.
Well, I read in Luke 7. Here again, we have the thought of dancing. The Lord is concerned here as to the lack of response: lack of response to the glad tidings really — lack of response to John the Baptist's ministry and to His own ministry. "We have piped to you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept." What a sobering thing, dear brethren, that the Word of God is taught, the glad tidings is preached, and there is no response. "Ye have not danced." "Ye have not wept." Is there a response in our hearts to the Word of God as it comes to us, to the glad tidings as they are preached amongst us?
The glad tidings are particularly appealing in Luke 15. In the first part of that chapter, we read that there shall be joy in heaven for one repenting sinner — more than for ninety and nine righteous who have no need of repentance!
Well, the father's house in the latter part of the chapter is a setting of joy, in which repenting sinners have their part, but into which the older son would not go. It says, "He became angry, and would not go in." How solemn! This elder son makes certain claims as to his service: "Behold, so many years I serve thee, and never have I transgressed a commandment of thine", and so on. He makes claims as to his service, but this younger son is just a repenting sinner. He says, "I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee." Think of the exercise of soul, the exercise of heart in that younger son, as he came to himself! He says, "I perish here by famine." That is what he comes to in his links with God. And he says, "How many hired servants have abundance of bread." Well, God delights to bring us into this place, as repenting sinners, where there is the music and the dancing. Here, in contrast to Luke 7, there is the answer to the music; there is the dancing. In Luke 7, it is "We have piped to you, and ye have not danced." But here, there is the full correspondence with the music; there is the dancing that goes with it. I believe the response is from repenting sinners, and there is joy in heaven for one repenting sinner.
May the Lord Jesus have his rightful place in responsive joy and affection, from each one of our hearts.
For his Name's sake.
S. E. Hesterman