There is a story in the Bible that conveys King David dancing before the arc of the covenant. And in the middle of this worship and joyful expression of a king dancing, many pay attention to the interpretation that King David may be wearing nothing more than an apron and his backside exposed. It is also understood that in this “surgical gown dance” David does is so full of joy that he literally throws his inhibition to the wind and dances near naked.
That is a sermon that I have heard more than one time and it is not a bad sermon, perhaps one that needs to be heard our “joy desert” culture.
However, I want to submit that David dancing near naked is actually enhancing worship and a form of social disobedience.
We have to remember that in the time of David, and even Jesus, it was shameful to see someone naked. It was more shameful to see someone else naked than to be naked. This is why Noah curses one son that sees him naked while blessing his other sons who were not exposed to this shame. It is also why it is political protest when Jesus says that if someone takes your clothes you should give them your cloak as well. Your nakedness will heap shame upon those who forced you into unjust nakedness.
David uses this naked/shame system as a form of social disobedience in order to enhance worship. When the King comes back into the city and everyone wants to hear the great story of the armies of David, David comes up with an idea to force people to literally turn their gaze to something else. By being naked (and one can imagine also that his whole staff might be dresses as the King) the people have a choice to make – make King David and his military the center of their worship celebration or look upon the arc of the covenant and make God the center of their worship celebration.
We do not have this same system of shame like David had. In fact today there is more shame to be naked than to see another naked, so it is difficult to imagine David’s culture. But if we can move beyond the puritanical impulses of our Puritan past, we can see a King who used a system of shame and his own nakedness to draw attention to God.
Sort of a genius move if you ask me.