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Undignified: How We Can Worship God like David Did

Heather Adams

Contributing Writer
Published Sep 11, 2023
Undignified: How We Can Worship God like David Did

King David is known as an example of a Godly worshipper. In fact, God said about him, “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (Acts 13:22). From an early age, David seemed to understand the importance of having a close relationship with his Lord.

A few years ago, I decided I wanted to go deeper in my worship life. It didn’t take long before I realized that there was no one in Scripture who could teach me more than David. So, I began to do an intense study. Through his writings and the accounts of his life, I saw a man who found ways to lift up God every day in all sorts of situations. Getting to know him better has inspired me.

 Here are just a few ideas on how we can worship like David did.

King David is known as an example of a Godly worshipper. In fact, God said about him, “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (Acts 13:22). From an early age, David seemed to understand the importance of having a close relationship with his Lord.

A few years ago, I decided I wanted to go deeper in my worship life. It didn’t take long before I realized that there was no one in Scripture who could teach me more than David. So, I began to do an intense study. Through his writings and the accounts of his life, I saw a man who found ways to lift up God every day in all sorts of situations. Getting to know him better has inspired me.

 Here are just a few ideas on how we can worship like David did.

How did David Worship?

Studying David’s worship life taught me that to please God, it’s not enough to say or do certain things – our hearts must be in the right place first. David’s words and actions reveal characteristics of the kind of worship that pleases God.

1. David Was a Broken Worshipper

“…you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).

The NIV translation of this Psalm has a note at the top, “When the prophet Nathan came to him after David committed adultery with Bathsheba.” This story tells how David made a series of terrible choices that “displeased the Lord” (1 Samuel 17:26). In a word, he sinned. When he was finally rebuked by Nathan, David humbled himself to admit, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). This painful time brought about a new humility in David, and a greater understanding of his need for God’s mercy.

I stumble and sin every day, and it is reassuring to know that like David, I can seek and receive forgiveness from a God who loves me. As I experience the grace of my Heavenly Father, my heart is filled with gratitude, which always leads to sincere and meaningful times of worship.

2. David was a Focused Worshipper

“You, God, are my God,earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you” (Psalm 63:1-5).

This Psalm was written when David was hiding from his enemies, possibly his son Absalom, in the Desert of Judah. He was probably quite lonely, and unsure about his future. But none of his feelings or concerns changed his decision to worship. He kept his eyes fixed on his God, looking up rather than around him.

As I go through my day, I want to be as decisive about praise as David. No matter what might be trying to distract me, I can realign my focus back to God. Prayer, remembering God’s works, even singing a hymn or chorus will help keep my attention on the One who deserves my worship.

3. David was a Passionate Worshipper

“So David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his night, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets” (2 Samuel 6:12-15).

This passage shows us a man so engaged in worshipping God that nothing else matters. Others, namely his wife Michal, disapproved of his behavior, calling him vulgar. But David didn’t apologize for his passion, responding, “I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this” (2 Samuel 21-22). He knew the power of fully embracing the act of giving glory to God.

One of my goals in worship is to be fully engaged – heart, soul, mind and strength. That might mean an outwardly bigger display while I’m with other people, but it could just as easily be a personal quiet time where I fully give myself over to lifting God up. It’s alright if other people don’t understand or approve, as long as I know that God is pleased.

Where did David Worship?  

David’s life reveals someone who worshipped God in many ways. Here are some of the different places and moments he lifted God up:

1. In the fields

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4).

David wrote Psalms, or songs to God, as he tended sheep in the fields. Though it was dusty and lonely work, shepherding allowed David to take in and appreciate the nature God had created. His writing expresses his awe and gratitude for God’s provision.

Most of us don’t work in the fields, and our pace of life is faster and more crowded. But can we become more aware of God’s presence, and praise Him during our day, wherever we happen to be?

2. In Saul’s court

“And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, ‘Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.’ And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him” (1 Samuel 16:21-23).

David became known for his musical skills as well as his moral character, and both came into play when he started serving in Saul’s court. As David used his God-given gifts, Saul’s spirit was calmed, and his heart was turned more toward the Lord.

While we may not all have musical gifts, God has given each of us talents of some kind. Are we willing to let God work through those talents to make others more aware of His healing power and goodness?

3. During the Battle

“David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.’” (1 Samuel 17:42-47)

David probably didn’t expect he’d ever have to face a giant like Goliath. But when given the chance, he gladly stepped up. Not only did he fight him, but he took the opportunity to declare God’s power to all who were gathered there. His victory was a testimony to both the Israelites and the Philistines.

The giants we face aren’t usually soldiers. But challenges come at us in all areas of life, and some of them can feel overwhelming. Though our struggles are real and sometimes scary, can we also use them as opportunities to tell others about our amazing God?

We Can Try Some of David’s Worshipful Actions  

In 1 Chronicles 16, David gives instructions to Asaph and his associates on how to praise the Lord. This passage is full of what I call “worship verbs,” or actions that David believed could bring honor to God. I found this passage to be a great jumpstart for my times of both corporate and individual worship. This is just a small list of ideas David puts forth:

-Give Praise
-Proclaim his name
-Sing to him
-Remember the wonders he has done
-Declare his glory among the nations
-Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength
-Give thanks to the Lord
-Cry out “Save us, God our Savior”

Everything David thought, felt and did was motivated by a desire to give glory to his Heavenly Father. For him, worship was a natural reflex, and in a way, as vital as breathing. I’m so glad for King David’s example that can help all of us grow in both our worship and faith lives.

Photo credit: Unsplash/Hannah Busing