by Michael Gallup
“And he was dancing NEKKID!” These words boomed through the sanctuary in that old rock church back in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The fiery Southern Baptist preacher was making sure we did not miss his point. He was telling us of King David’s undignified act of worship, how he lost his clothes as well as his mind at the triumphant return of the Ark of the Lord to Israel. The preacher made sure to emphasize that David was not merely naked but had somehow dipped into that special realm of southern colloquialism and had done got nekkid.
In a moment of ecstasy, David began stripping. Nearby his wife, Michal was watching and blushing. Unable to hide her shame any longer, Michal attacks David’s exhibition. David’s response is classic: “I will become even more undignified than this.” In other words, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
The first time I heard that Pastor back in Arkansas say “nekkid” it sure grabbed my attention. This was not something we were supposed to talk about in church, but I soon learned different. While preaching a series on characters in the Old Testament he found several opportunities to proclaim someone was “nekkid.” To my delight he always yelled the word as if he was scared of it. I still imitate him to this day. But it does seems odd, that we would find so many references to our nudity in this holy book.
The first place we see someone naked is in the Garden of Eden. God gives the first man Adam a wife and the as the ancient Hebrews tell it, “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” This perfect unity is starkly contrasted with Adam and Eve’s immense sense of shame after their sin. There initial reaction to that first bite is to cover themselves up and to hide their nakedness from God and each other.
The next time we see someone naked is Noah. Yes, that Noah, the one with ark. After the flood waters receded from the face of the earth, Noah celebrates the new life and plants a vineyard. Once the vine produces he celebrates a bit too much and winds up NEKKID and passed out. One of his sons looks on his nakedness while the other two back into Noah’s tent and cover him up. While still hungover, Noah curses his son that looked on his nakedness and blesses his other sons.
Interestingly, both accounts mingle celebration and shame. The same is seen in the story of David and Michal. One celebrates and another shames.
The next time we see a King of Israel NEKKID is in the Son of David himself, Jesus. He is hanging on a cross, exposed and dieing. The onlookers much like Noah’s son and Michal hurls shameful insults at the undignified king. And yet, just as sin entered the world exposing man’s shame, in shame an exposed man removed sin from the world. And in an act of worship before the Lord, Jesus fulfills David’s promise so long ago to become more undignified but also to be held in honor.
Perhaps the only time that old preacher didn’t yell nekkid was when he was telling this same story of Jesus’ victorious death. In fact, he said the word embarrassed, head-down, quiet. I imagine that he, like me, felt the shame of our Lord exposed before us, felt the shame of being somehow responsible and felt the shame of being the very one in the crowd hurling insults. But in that very shame we find a reason to celebrate, the Lord is exposed just as we are exposed and, praise God, we will be robed in dignity and white just as our savior is robed.
And perhaps we can join Jesus and David and lose our minds before a God who has chosen us despite all our shame.
Michael is a student at Denver Seminary. You can read his blog, A Sprig of Hope, by clicking here.