2 Samuel 6:20
Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said…
1. There can be no question that these words are intended to denote that when the public work of the day was done David returned to his own dwelling to implore the blessing of Almighty God upon his family by prayer and supplication.
I. WITH REGARD TO THE OBLIGATIONS TO FAMILY WORSHIP.
1. I begin by observing that this duty arises out Of the relation in which families stand to God. He is their Founder and Benefactor. He "placeth the solitary in families;" children "are His heritage, and the fruit of the womb His reward." Does the duty of social worship result from man's being placed in society? Here is a society of the closest and most endearing kind, in which there is a clear and felt community of wants and necessities, a closer conjunction of interests than can possibly subsist in any other situation.
2. While the relation in which families stand to God evinces the obligation to family worship, the relation in which the head of the family stands to its several members makes it no less apparent. He is invested with a certain delegated authority over them, which lie is bound to employ for the promotion of the Divine glory. The power which he thus possesses is a department of the stewardship which the great Proprietor commits to the care of men: and if it be neglected, if its responsibility be not habitually felt, he is a faithless steward, and must fail in rendering an account.
3. So consonant is this duty to the natural sentiments of the human heart that even heathen nations appear to have been sensible of its propriety; for besides their tutelar deities who were supposed to preside over cities and nations, and who had public honours paid to .them in that character, we read of the "penates," or household gods, to whom families addressed their devotions. Such were, in all probability, the "teraphim," or graven images, which Rachel carried away when she left the house of her father, Laban the Syrian; and those also which Micah, a man of Mount Ephraim, had in his dwelling, and on account of which he engaged a young man to officiate as priest or domestic chaplain.
4. But the obligation to this duty will more clearly appear when we attend to what the Scriptures teach us regarding it.
II. THE ADVANTAGES WHICH ACCRUE FROM THE FAITHFUL DISCHARGE OF THIS DUTY.
1. When accompanied with suitable dispositions of mind, family worship exercises a most beneficial influence even upon the temporal interests of those who practise it. It cannot fail to give a certain order and regularity to all the concerns of the household; for, being performed at a stated time, morning and evening, account will be laid, both by the head and the members of the household, to have their affairs in such a state that it may be performed with convenience; and thus habits of regularity and dispatch will be acquired, which must prove highly conducive to domestic economy and comfort.
2. The influence of domestic worship in promoting the temporal interests of a family is still further apparent from its tendency to promote industry in business and sobriety of life. The man that offers up his desires to God for the welfare of his household feels that by that very act he becomes bound to concur in every practicable way towards that end; and no one can continue long to pray for a blessing on his secular affairs, while at the same time he neglects his business and spends his time and substance in idleness and dissipation.
3. Attention to this duty is calculated to promote the worldly interests of a family, inasmuch as it draws down the blessing of God upon their labours. It is His blessing alone that maketh rich and prosperous, and in what manner is that blessing more likely to be obtained than by a whole family joining in prayer, and asking it daily of God? "The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked, but He blesseth the habitation of the just."
4. Another, and far more valuable benefit, which flows from the faithful discharge of this duty, is its tendency, under the blessing of God, to promote the spiritual and eternal interests of those who practise it. It is one of the most important means through which God has promised to convey the blessings of salvation. He has assured us by an apostle that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
5. The regular performance of this duty is no less advantageous to the members of his household. To some, it is true, family worship, like all other means of grace, may yield no saving or spiritual benefit. As there are some spots of ground so completely sterile and impenetrable, that no culture can make them fruitful, even so there are some hearts so hard and callous that the wisest instruction, the most fervent prayers, and the most holy example produce no impression upon them. Still, however, we may safely assert that family devotion, when punctually and faithfully observed, has a most powerful tendency to form the minds of a household to the love and practice of religion. Who knows not the force of early impressions and the strength of early habits?
6. Nor is the influence of family worship confined to the members of the household who engage in it. It has a tendency to promote the truest and most permanent welfare of the community at large. Society rests upon reverence for law, and nothing can uphold it so well as reverence for the law of God. It is the caricature of this principle, religious serfdom, on which the continental despotisms at this moment are striving to rest their tottering thrones. We have in this country the blessed reality to a considerable extent, enlightened and genuine regard for the Divine law, and that among the masses of the people.
7. Nor is the influence of the duty we are recommending more useful and extensive than it is lasting. Besides blessings imparted to a neighbourhood, a congregation, a city, a nation, there may be blessings scattered over a long track of generations. Out of one home many homes may arise; each of these again may become a wellhead of moral and religious power. Thus a seed shall be preserved and multiplied to serve God, which shall be accounted to Him for a generation.
III. SOME OF THE MOST POPULAR EXCUSES OR APOLOGIES FOR THE NEGLECT OF THE DUTY OF FAMILY WORSHIP.
1. One of the most common of these apologies is want of time. The time that is necessary for the performance of this exercise might easily be redeemed from sleep, idleness, business, or amusement. Besides, the advantages attending the duty would more than compensate the expense of time. By the spirit of order and regularity which, as we have seen, it tends to produce, time will be saved, instead of being lost, while, by drawing down the blessing of God on your labours, your united supplications will promote the success of your worldly employments. "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord."
2. But a more plausible excuse for the neglect of the duty of family worship is want of ability. But let me entreat those who complain of this inability to remember that in prayer, as in other things, facility and correctness are to be acquired only by frequent practice and use. You can never form any accurate judgment of your qualifications until you have made the trial. Another reason-which has been offered by some for neglecting family prayer is that they cannot overcome their natural reluctance and timidity to engage in prayer in the presence of others. To be ashamed of engaging in family prayer is virtually to be ashamed of religion itself; and how awfully criminal such conduct must be, against which are pointed such denunciations as the following — "Whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and My words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father, with the holy angels."
4. There are others who plead as an excuse for neglecting this duty that it had been so long neglected that they know not how to begin. To introduce family worship now, they think, would only be exhibiting their own inconsistency of character.
5. There is only one excuse more to which we would request your attention, namely, that of those who acknowledge the reasonableness of the duty which has been recommended, but who are reluctant to attend to it, from the fear of the opposition, censure and ridicule which they may meet with from their families. But I would ask those who urge this plea, whether they have ever made the experiment? If they have not, how know they but that this is a hindrance which exists only in their own imagination? There is, even in the very worst of men, a natural reverence for holiness, and I believe that the instances are extremely rare in which the members of a household will openly discourage or censure the ordinances of religion.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!
WEB: Then David returned to bless his household. Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, "How glorious the king of Israel was today, who uncovered himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!"