Monday, December 7, 2009

Dancing- A Symbol of Praise

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;
Psalms 30:11

Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. Jeremiah 31:13

"Dancing is primarily a physical and visual means of praising, honoring and thanking God. In the Bible it is often combined with song and instrumentation. Movement joins human and inanimate sound to praise God. Dance is one way of thanking and confessing God “with tambourine and dance;…Let everything that breathes praise the LORD!(Ps 150;4, 6; 149:3 NRSV).

Dancing and instrumentation are related to prophecy. Miriam the prophetess commanded the women of her time to thank God for making them victorious over their Egyptian enemies (Ex. 15:20-21). The context here is a post battle victory celebration, usually led by women meeting returning warriors. This is also the proper understanding of Isaiah 52:7, which should be translated “How beautiful are the dancing feet of the women [a feminine participle in Hebrew] who spread the good news of peace”).

Dancing was used to celebrate God’s victory in battle and the human “weapons” who were used by God (Judg 11:34; 1 Sam 18:6-7; 21:aa; 29:5). The prophets who met Saul also danced and played instruments (1 Sam 10:5)….

Dance in the Bible symbolizes praise, freedom and equality. An apt summary of its significance is found in the personification of wisdom, a crucial quality needed by artists (Ex 28:3; 31:3; 6; 35:10). Wisdom itself dances, makes sport, laughs. As God created the world, Wisdom was God’s architect, daily dancing before God’s face (Prov. 8:30). God created the world with a dance-like joy, and we humans are to respond with a joyful dance."

(ed. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinios, 1998, pgs 188-189)


  1. more rejoicing and grateful stepping wow can you give us more?

  2. Good post. But I don't know if I can fully accept this Dictionary's explanation of Isaiah 52:7, especially given the signigicance the Church puts on it symbolizing Christ or Missionary Work.

  3. I'm glad you brought that up, Steven. I nearly added a note saying that I believe that the missionary aspect FULLY applies to this as well.

    We are not bound by the literal masculine/feminine aspects of Hebrew when it comes to our understanding of scripture. There are Messianic scriptures that refer to types of Christ using the feminine gender. For example,
    in the famous passage from Isaiah 53:7:

    He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

    The word "sheep" here refers to a female sheep-in Hebrew "rachel." "Lamb" is a masculine term.

  4. Great explanation to my original query. I hadn't thought of it that way before--and here I've studied Hebrew (grin). My 3rd GGFather was Jewish.

  5. I love the Isaiah 52:7 thing, I always wondered why Isaiah would talk about the beautiful feet of the gospel spreaders, but it sure makes sense that they were dancing because of the joy that comes with missionary work!

  6. I love that--dancing feet! I agree about the interpretations thing. There are SO MANY ways to interpret the scriptures, and it's intended that way. Don't the Jews say there are 70 levels to interpreting everything? God's word isn't limited by time or anything else. That must be one reason He gave us the Spirit--to teach us according to our own understanding in all things.