Unlike the modern types of western dancing, the Old Testament Oriental dances were accepted by God in special praise occasions. The scriptures give us the following examples where holy dancing was allowed:
- Miriam the prophetess, Moses’ sister, took a tambourine in her hand and all the women followed her with tambourines and dancing. This joyful dance to the Lord, led by Miriam, followed Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea and celebrated Israel’s freedom from slavery (Exodus 15:20).
- David danced before the ark when bringing it to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:16).
- Jephthah’s daughter met her victorious father with dancing (Judges 11:34).
The prophet David writes about dancing with approval. “Let them praise His name with the dance; let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp”; “Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes” (Psalms 149:3; 150:4).
It should be noted that these activities were done outside the sanctuary or temple of God. The Biblical Holy dancing was an outward expression of holy joy, entered into in the same spirit as songs of praise or prayers of thanksgiving. It was clearly an act of worship that was accepted by God.
In contrast, modern social dancing has no resemblance whatsoever to the religious dancing of Bible times. In the Old Testament times, there was no association of men and women in the dances. Each group danced separately. The participants were simply leaping in joy using the body in a dignified, noble, and holy manner. There was absolutely no place for immoral practices of the flesh. And the lyrics consisted of hymns of praise and psalms. These forms of worship were proper ways for glorifying God.
In the New Testament, Paul gives us advice that “everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Anything during worship that takes away from the holiness of the church gathering should be shuned. Therefore, “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
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In His service,