Without holiness no one can see God

Worshipping God is not something to be entered into casually. To stand before him, or to encounter him in daily life, will give rise to an immediate awareness that God is holy. It is dangerous to think that God can be fooled or treated in an offhand way. In today’s reading from the Old Testament (2 Samuel 6:1-23), we are left with three disturbing images of people who have made various responses to God’s holiness.

The first is by Uzzah, who reaches out to steady the Ark of the Covenant which seems about to topple over on a cart. He is struck dead by the LORD. He has violated God’s holiness (similar to the Philistines in 1 Sam ch 6). The next image is of David exuberantly dancing semi-naked before The Ark as it is brought into Jerusalem. He is full of joy that God’s dwelling will now be in the new city he has founded. The third is the sour face of David’s wife, Michal (2 Sam 6:20). She despises David’s obvious love for God expressed enthusiastically in dance. As the daughter of Saul (2 Sam 6:16), she is bitter that her father was not the one doing what David has achieved and nurses deep resentment that she has been forcibly taken from her husband and given back to David who had won her as a trophy for getting 100 Philistine foreskins. She has been traded like war booty as a condition of his agreement to become king over Israel (2 Sam 3:13-16). The consequence of her bitterness was that she bore no children, probably because David refused to sleep with her, rather than as a sign that God’s blessing had been taken from her. “Without holiness,” writes the author of Hebrews, “. . . no one can see God.” (Heb 12:14. See also Matt 5:8).

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