Bible Study: Look High and Low

How do we worship a sovereign, glorious, and all-powerful God?

Ferris wheels have come a long way since the first one opened in 1893. At 550 feet, the High Roller in Las Vegas is more than twice the original’s height. Once safely enclosed within its 28 cabins, up to 1,120 riders can soar to breathtaking vantage points. It’s not unlike a relationship with the God of creation, where a surrendered heart secures us for a ride to new heights.

 

Read

Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and reveal truth as you read 2 Samuel 6. Permit yourself to ask questions that may not have answers. Wonder aloud, imagine the scene, and take note of anything that surprises, confuses, or even offends you. Remember, God is the best teacher.

Key Passage: 2 Samuel 6:1-23

 

Background

The ark of the covenant is a sacred object designed by God to symbolize His power dwelling among the Israelites. It’s being brought to Jerusalem by David, who loves the Lord and longs for His presence and favor. This is an occasion for worship and the entire nation of Israel is on hand to celebrate. But they receive a terrible shock. Even the great King David is angry and frightened when disaster strikes.

 

Reflect

Can love and fear occur simultaneously? Is the result something you’d want?

  • God wants us to honor Him and delights to bless us. But His perfect holiness creates demands that are not always easy to fulfill. One example is found in the story of Uzzah. How do you feel when you read 2 Samuel 6:6-7? Fearful? Angry? Surprised? Does your reaction change when you remember God had previously warned that the ark could be carried only by its poles, and by special priests (Num. 4:15)?

  • After Uzzah’s disturbing death, David brought the ark temporarily to the home of Obed-edom. In its presence, the entire household experienced blessing (2 Samuel 6:11). Think of a time you felt near to God and blessed by Him—was obedience securing you on your “Ferris wheel ride”? Explain how this story sheds light on Jesus’ role in our life. In what way might He help us to obey? In what way might He serve as the ark in your life?

 

Continuing the Story

There’s joy in submission to God. Emptying ourselves before Him makes it possible to be filled with His glorious life.

  • Strong’s Concordance says the etymology of the Hebrew word for “worship” is to “bow down” or “go low” before a superior. Given this definition, what in your own life would you call “worship”?

  • God wants us to honor Him. But His perfect holiness creates demands that are not always easy to fulfill.

  • Besides involving an offering, what we often think of as worship was, in the Old Testament, really two distinct activities: bowing in submission and praising with joy. What do you think is the relationship between these things? What is the difference?

  • Imagine the scene (2 Samuel 6:13-15). It’s David’s second attempt to retrieve the ark. A huge parade with singing, dancing, and musicians is brought to a halt after six steps. In light of the failure in the previous attempt, why do you think this was so important?

  • 2 Samuel 6:14 contains one of Scripture’s happiest expressions of unrestricted joy toward God. Can you think of times when you physically or figuratively dance “with all your might” before Him? In what sense does your joy occur hand in hand with surrender?

  • When he finished worshipping, David turned his attention to the people (2 Samuel 6:18-19). His actions indicate our hearts aren’t big enough to contain the joy of the Lord. It spills over like a river, flowing with good things to those around us. Do you have enough outlets for your joy in Christ? What do you do when you want to “give out cakes” to everyone? How might focusing on worship help the church be a “city on a hill”—a place of love and a witness for the gospel?

  • Worship is often a private matter, or an attitude of the heart expressed silently. But it’s also a privilege of the church and a community activity. What does 2 Samuel 6 reveal about how corporate worship benefits the church? Think about Uzzah, David, Obed-edom, Michal, and the maids.

 

Reflect

As followers of Jesus under the new covenant, we have special reason to praise God—and a continued need to worship Him.

    Emptying ourselves before God makes it possible to be filled with His glorious life.

  • Compare David’s actions with the instructions in Ephesians 5:18-21, when the early church was learning what worship looks like under the cover of grace. How is the fear David experienced different here? How is it still present?

  • This is one of the clearest descriptions of praise and worship in the New Testament—and it’s a picture of shared happiness between believers. With that in mind, what do you think is the importance of Eph. 5:21?

  • When obligation to submit to God becomes gratitude for His lordship, worship can coexist permanently with praise. This is what creates a heart that “sings and makes melody” and always gives thanks for all things.

 

Revisit

Over the next several weeks, use this section to review the study and consider how its message applies to your life.

If worship means “bow down” or “go low” and exalt means “be high” or “rise,” then our relationship with God really is something like a Ferris wheel ride. As we go low and submit ourselves to Him, we lift up and praise His name. And it’s part of His generous, loving nature that as we do, He lifts us up, too. In fact, it’s the descending, or the “bowing down,” that makes it possible for us to be lifted by God (Matt. 23:12). And being lifted by Him is an experience we will never forget.

    As we go low and submit ourselves to Him, we lift up and praise His name.

  • Do you find it hard to imagine what “bowing down” or “lifting up” looks like in daily life? Worship and praise take many forms. Some experience it while working or watching a sunset. In truth, for a believer in Christ, it’s possible to be in submission and joy at every moment (Col. 3:17). And giving expression to those feelings is part of living the Christian life. Read Psalm 66:1-20, which many attribute to David. How do you think people throughout the ages, from his contemporaries down to you, have benefited because he shared his song?

  • Psalm 66, like many others, is not just a song from David to God. It begins with an exhortation to the listeners: “Shout joyfully to God” (v. 1). The speaker is doing so himself, making this an invitation rather than a command. What does this tell you about the role of faith and testifying in the church? Try finding a psalm that appeals to your heart, and then, in the spirit of Ephesians 5:19, share it with someone else. Perhaps try writing your own!

  • Understanding the difference between worship and praise helps us make sure our joy is accompanied by submission, and our submission by joy. Surrendered to God’s lordship and open to receiving His life, we’re safe in the car at the top of the Ferris wheel—and the view is amazing.

 

Illustration by Adam Cruft

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1 Now David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.

2 And David arose and went with all the people who were with him to Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God which is called by the Name, the very name of the LORD of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim.

3 They placed the ark of God on a new cart that they might bring it from the house of Abinadab which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were leading the new cart.

4 So they brought it with the ark of God from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Ahio was walking ahead of the ark.

5 Meanwhile, David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD with all kinds of instruments made of fir wood, and with lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals.

6 But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it.

7 And the anger of the LORD burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God.

8 David became angry because of the LORD'S outburst against Uzzah, and that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day.

9 So David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, How can the ark of the LORD come to me?"

10 And David was unwilling to move the ark of the LORD into the city of David with him; but David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite.

11 Thus the ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

12 Now it was told King David, saying, The LORD has blessed the house of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, on account of the ark of God." David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness.

13 And so it was, that when the bearers of the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling.

14 And David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod.

15 So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouting and the sound of the trumpet.

16 Then it happened as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.

17 So they brought in the ark of the LORD and set it in its place inside the tent which David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.

18 When David had finished offering the burnt offering and the peace offering, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts.

19 Further, he distributed to all the people, to all the multitude of Israel, both to men and women, a cake of bread and one of dates and one of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed each to his house.

20 But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants' maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!"

21 So David said to Michal, It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel; therefore I will celebrate before the LORD.

22 I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished."

23 Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

6 But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it.

7 And the anger of the LORD burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God.

15 When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy objects and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is to set out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them, so that they will not touch the holy objects and die. These are the things in the tent of meeting which the sons of Kohath are to carry.

11 Thus the ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

13 And so it was, that when the bearers of the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling.

14 And David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod.

15 So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouting and the sound of the trumpet.

14 And David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod.

18 When David had finished offering the burnt offering and the peace offering, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts.

19 Further, he distributed to all the people, to all the multitude of Israel, both to men and women, a cake of bread and one of dates and one of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed each to his house.

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,

19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;

21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

1 Shout joyfully to God, all the earth;

2 Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious.

3 Say to God, How awesome are Your works! Because of the greatness of Your power Your enemies will give feigned obedience to You.

4 All the earth will worship You, And will sing praises to You; They will sing praises to Your name." Selah.

5 Come and see the works of God, Who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men.

6 He turned the sea into dry land; They passed through the river on foot; There let us rejoice in Him!

7 He rules by His might forever; His eyes keep watch on the nations; Let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.

8 Bless our God, O peoples, And sound His praise abroad,

9 Who keeps us in life And does not allow our feet to slip.

10 For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined.

11 You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins.

12 You made men ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water, Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.

13 I shall come into Your house with burnt offerings; I shall pay You my vows,

14 Which my lips uttered And my mouth spoke when I was in distress.

15 I shall offer to You burnt offerings of fat beasts, With the smoke of rams; I shall make an offering of bulls with male goats. Selah.

16 Come and hear, all who fear God, And I will tell of what He has done for my soul.

17 I cried to Him with my mouth, And He was extolled with my tongue.

18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;

19 But certainly God has heard; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer.

20 Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer Nor His lovingkindness from me.

19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

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