News // Devotional

King David, Michal and the Asbury Revival

by Edric Sng // February 20, 2023, 9:53 am

Asbury Revival

What has come to be known as the Asbury Revival started at a midweek chapel service at Asbury University in Kentucky.

By now, you’ve likely heard what’s going on at Asbury University.

In a nutshell, the weekly chapel service that started on Wednesday, February 8, has … not yet ended. For days, students have filled the halls of the seminary in Kentucky state, day and night, in prayer and spontaneous praise, marked by repentance and salvations.

It didn’t take long before this ongoing episode was dubbed the Asbury Revival.

“What’s been happening here since Wednesday is there’s a young army of believers who are rising to claim Christianity, the faith, as their own, as a young generation and as a free generation, and that’s why people cannot get enough,” student body president Alison Perfater told Fox News.

Surely all this is a good thing, right?

Students confessing their sins in the spirit of repentance, eschewing every Gen Z distraction to instead prefer to seek God’s face. Their peers at other university campuses catching that fire, which has spilled over even onto TikTok (search #AsburyRevival) and YouTube, where the events from Asbury are being livestreamed to millions worldwide.

The next generation drawing near to God – surely that is high on every church’s list of prayer items!

And yet … it seems that wherever Asbury is mentioned, for every 🔥 emoji posted in support, there’s at least the same number of 😡 emojis.

It seems there are a lot of Christians who would rather this not be taking place. Ours is the age of cynicism.

Here’s another account of revival, both personal and en masse. A little while before Asbury.

“David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.

“… David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.

“As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart.

“… David said to Michal, “(My dancing) was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord—and I will celebrate before the Lord.

“I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes.”

Recognise that? It’s excerpted from 2 Samuel 6:5-22. The celebration was for the Ark of the Covenant being brought to Jerusalem, the City of David. If anything, the worship then was rather wilder than at Asbury, which seems to be marked by spontaneous worship that is surprisingly peaceful and orderly.

I have just one plea: If someone is celebrating before God – especially someone from the next generation – let them. 

To be fair to Michal, daughter of Saul, she had all sorts of reasons to be angry towards David, the man who succeeded her father as King. The more David celebrated, the more embittered she became, to the point where she confronted him to condemn his behaviour (2 Samuel 6:20).

It seems no matter the era, no matter the situation, there’s always someone looking to pour cold water and pull the handbrake on someone’s eagerness to seek God.

The bitterness would eventually poison, not David, but Michal herself.

As 2 Samuel 6:23 notes: “Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.”

To the Michals out there: I know there are many questions, many doubts in your mind. But before going through the long list of questions one by one, I instead have just one plea: If someone is celebrating before God – especially someone from the next generation – let them.

Writes Dave Chamberlain of the Kainos Project: “We would do well to cultivate the discipline of withholding judgment. Cynicism says, ‘I know how this ends: the same way it always ends—and it’s never good.’ But humility says, ‘I don’t know the motivations and intentions of others, and while I may have some critical questions, I choose to withhold judgment until I learn more.’

Every believer’s journey starts when they are born again. Every backslider’s redemptive story starts at a place of rededication. Dead faith needs to be revived.

“We would do well to refrain from providing authoritative commentary in the meantime.”

There certainly are questions that will need answers in the long game.

What are the lasting fruits of this repentance? How will the lives of those at Asbury be transformed? When will their personal encounters translate to ministry beyond campus and church? Will this prove to be a pivotal moment or merely a meaningless footnote on the history of the church, American and global?

But that is the long game. For now: Every believer’s journey starts when they are born again. Every backslider’s redemptive story starts at a place of rededication. Dead faith needs to be revived.

It all needs to start somewhere. For some, why not Asbury?

It may not be how you would worship, it may not be your setting of choice. But anyone drawing close to God is always a good thing.

Celebrate with those who celebrate God.

And to those at Asbury – or more likely to those who see what’s going on in Kentucky and are now curious, or optimistic, or hopeful, or stirred, or inspired, or seeking for a touch of God yourself: 

When you finally come that close to the Ark of the Covenant, so to speak, possibly after an extended separation – your celebration is before the Lord, not men. Some may invalidate your experience, some will find it contemptible.

Better contemptible before men than before God. Better to be abased in the eyes of cynical, critical man, than to be abashed in your celebration of God.

Asbury University’s ‘revival’ goes viral on TikTok, and people are travelling thousands of miles to be there

Before revival must come repentance: Pastor Edmund Chan at PraySingapore

O for a thousand tongues to sing: The Clock Tower’s revival fire blazes on

About the author

Edric Sng

Edric was a news editor across digital, newspaper and TV newsrooms in Singapore before he gave it all up to become Editor of Salt&Light and He's a father to five, and husband to one.