Destroying Strongholds

By Alan Wright — June 12, 2019

Praise disarms hellish ideologies and dismantles strongholds.

Today’s Text: “As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, 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.” (2 Samuel 6:16, ESV)

When David brought the ark into Jerusalem, he danced with delight, not caring what anyone thought. But his wife, Michal, looked down with smug disapproval.

We are not given the reasons for Michal’s disdain. Be assured though that praise of God is completely countercultural in every generation. It is for this very reason that praise is so powerful. Praise disarms the ideologies of hell and dismantles strongholds for at least two reasons: the world is addicted to productivity and is bent toward self-absorption, praise flies in the face of both obsessions.

To the natural mind, praise makes no sense because, on the surface, it seems to produce nothing.

This is what bothered Judas when Lazarus’ sister Mary poured out a year’s worth of wages on Jesus’ feet in an act of unbridled worship. “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and given to the poor?” Judas wasn’t displaying his big heart, of course, but rather his big greed. Nonetheless, the point makes sense to the world. It would have made sense if Jesus had said, “If you’ll pour out $30,000 worth of perfume on my feet, I’ll raise your brother from the dead.” But Jesus had already raised Mary’s brother Lazarus from the dead. Mary’s worship was scandalous because it didn’t “accomplish” anything. So Judas called it a waste.

Maybe that was part of what bothered Michal. There was no “requirement” for such a lavish celebration. The world says celebration is a waste of time.

Praise is also unnerving because it runs contrary to our self-preoccupation. Praise is, by its very nature, other-centered. You can’t be prideful and praising at the same time.

There is something so childlike about David’s praise. Michal hated it. God loved it. Praise is the ultimate acknowledgement of unmixed grace. Freely we have received God’s love. Freely we give our praise. And that’s the Gospel!

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