Does God Dance?
(Does the Lord dance over His people?)

QUESTION: In church Sunday we sang a song that said, "God dances over me." It bothered me and I cannot find a Scripture reference to support it. Is this a correct use of Scripture for a song?

ANSWER: H-m-m... Thanks for the question. I think what you describe would bother me, too. And it's not a song I would use personally. You don't actually name the selection, but perhaps you're referring to "Lord of the Dance," written in 1963 by Sidney Carter. You can see more about him and his song on the Cyber Hymnal, here.

However, let me take the other side for just a moment.

When King David brought the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem, he executed a vigorous and impromptu dance before the procession (II Sam. 6:12-14). His wife, Michal, criticized him for this--mainly, it seems, because she thought it was an undignified way for a king to act (vs. 20).

However, David declared his willingness to humble himself before his people (vs. 21-22). And the Lord seems to have honoured his sincerity and supported his position, as the Bible says Michal was barren for the rest of her life (vs. 23).

Several quick points about that incident.

1) Michal refers to the king "uncovering" himself in public. But I don't think we should infer from that that he was stark naked. He simply removed his kingly outer robe, so he could move more freely.

2) This was not some kind of sexy, suggestive dance, such as is performed on immoral videos today. It was likely more of a Hebrew folk dance. Or, he simply leaped and twirled with giddy joy. (The way contestants and their families sometimes do on a quiz show, when they win a lot of money. Or the way some of us do when our football team wins.)

Spontaneous expressions of joy and devotion--though they may fly in the face of the usual propriety and political correctness--are not necessarily frowned upon by the Lord, when they are sincere expressions of the heart (cf. Mk. 14:3-9).

3) Keep in mind that David is the forefather of the Lord Jesus, who would be called "the Son of David" (Matt. 1:1). His willingness to humble himself before his people is a touching foreshadowing of an infinitely greater humbling by the Saviour that was yet to come (Phil. 2:8).

So is there any reference to Almighty God dancing, in Scripture? No, not that I'm aware of. However, there is a reference to Him singing. Zephaniah 3:17 says, "The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing" (NKJV).

In my view, the latter refers to the day when Christ returns to set up His earthly kingdom, and Israel's long centuries of suffering will finally be at an end (cf. vs. 14-15). At that time, Jehovah God will comfort His people Israel and rejoice.

As to the song you mention, it's likely that the one who wrote it was trying to find some poetic way to convey the sheer delight of the Lord in His children. And Psalm 37:23 does say, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights [takes pleasure in] in his way."

Whether that includes the Lord dancing or not, I'm not sure. But my personal objections to a song such as you mention are several.

1) The imagery of God dancing over His people has no actual biblical support.

2) There is too strong an association in our day with the sensuality of the wrong kind of dancing.

3) Dancing is never mentioned in connection with the church of Jesus Christ. In fact, it may be significant that the only two mentions of dancing in the New Testament have a negative connotation (Matt. 11:17; 14:6).

4) It tends to degrade and humanize the Lord of glory and does not show Him appropriate awe and reverence. (Cf. John's awe-filled meeting with the glorified Christ, Rev. 1:10-18.)

5) It will definitely be offensive to some people, and will thus hinder their true worship.
 
I know there will be others who will disagree with me. And perhaps in some congregations it would be acceptable. But I do think that in corporate worship we should try to avoid giving offense. Instead we should seek to use expressions of worship that all can enjoy.

I have a similar concern when it comes to excessively loud music, or music with a repetitious and intrusive beat, in the house of God. We need to try to keep our worship and praise free from worldly associations, firmly rooted in the Word of God, and accessible to as many as possible.