The pursuit of fame—or at least notoriety—has consumed many people throughout the centuries. In the ancient world, kings, soldiers, and even gladiators elevated their social status through victory in violence. Depending upon the values of a particular culture, different types of people had opportunity to lift themselves from obscurity to make a name for themselves through scientific discoveries, art and music, and writing. Therefore, while today’s online culture of faux fame, with its emphasis on a willingness to spout nonsense and do the absurd, may have taken this to ridiculous levels, the motives have remained the same for millennia. The opportunities have simply multiplied—and with them the quality. However, this attitude pervades through much of society, including in the church. Some seem to revel in the possibility of celebrity, though on a small scale. While this carries with it some inherent dangers associated with pride and selfish ambition, there is another, more subtle problem: it places the focus on ourselves and takes it away from God.
David’s official coronation followed years of turmoil in which people had questioned his motives, threatened his life, and pursued civil war rather than accept his anointing. David came to the throne with all sorts of military accomplishments behind him and all kinds of promise ahead of him. He was a celebrity, hailed by the people for his prowess and appreciated by many others for his restraint. His coronation thus signaled a great triumph after years of tribulation. Celebrating that triumph would seem both natural and justified. However, that is what makes David’s words in Psalm 24 so powerful. In a time when he received control over a kingdom, he celebrated that everything belonged to the LORD (Psa. 24:1-2). As he moved his throne and then ultimately the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, he did not see his own power but the LORD’s holiness (Psa. 24:3-6). Thus, while most kings would enter their capital with pronouncements of their exploits and their worthiness to rule, David enters humbly, acknowledging the LORD’s right to rule (Psa. 24:7-10). He dared not take credit or assume superiority. Instead, he honored his God and drew attention to His accomplishments.
Being provocative has become a necessary means to be noticed among the morass of information available on the Internet and in media in general. Celebrities dress provocatively. Bloggers write provocatively. Reality stars do things provocatively. Why? They want to be noticed; they want their work recognized. Many preachers can fall into this trap as well, seeking desperately to stand out from the crowd. We could all learn this valuable lesson from the king called “a man after God’s own heart.” David did not want to be a glorified king; he lived to serve the King of Glory. That made all the difference, and it should with us as well (Gal. 2:20).