Vacation Thoughts on Worship

March 26, 2009 at 9:34 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, It's All About God, Worship | Leave a comment

            We are vacationing in Knoxville this week with Cathy’s brother and family.  Since I just finished John and am on vacation, I am changing my devotional reading plan for the time off – just pondering some Psalms.  As I’ve read the Psalms numbered in the nineties, I have been impressed by four things concerning worship:  First, our worship must always be directed toward God.  Notice things like “sing to the LORD” (found in 95:1, 96:1-2, 98:1, 101:1); “It is good to make music to your name, O Most High” (92:1); and “Shout for joy to the LORD all the earth” (100:1).  In every case, the praise is directed to God.  He must always be the object and the receiver of our praise.  How often do we sing songs that please us, songs that are choreographed for “seekers,” or songs that are directed to something other than God?  We easily direct our church music everywhere but upward.

            Second, God must be praised for who he is – especially his love and faithfulness.  I have mentioned before the number of times these attributes of God appear together in Psalms, and there are some examples in these chapters.  You can look up 92:2, 94:18, and 98:3; but probably the best know verse of the list is 100:5, “The LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

            Third, the style of worship is demonstrated in these verses.  Some worship must be a jubilant, joyous, noisy type of worship.  Examples include the prescription to “sing for joy” (92:4, 95:1, 96:12, 98:8, and 100:2).  We are even told to shout in our expression of worship (95:1, 100:1).  Listen to these words of jubilance praise:  “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.  Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth” (96:11-13).  “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn – shout for joy before the LORD, the King” (98:4-6).  Sometimes it puzzles me, why those who believe a Reformed theology often have more boring worship services than those who believe the Arminian perspective.  It seems if I have some part in my salvation, there is not a lot to praise God for, but if God has done it all for me, and it is all about him, then I should be terribly excited about that!

            However, there should also be a melodious, quiet, reverent side of our worship too.  “It is good to praise the LORD  .  .  .  to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp” (92:3); “Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker” (95:6); and “Tremble before him all the earth” (96:9).  Noisy, upbeat praise is a good thing to draw one into the spirit of worship, but a diet of nothing but that style is shallow and can become empty emotionalism.

            Finally, worship is all about God, all about his glory.  “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name  .  .  . Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness” (96:8-9, but read 3-9); “You, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods” (97:9).  Even our salvation, which we think of as for our good, is ultimately for God’s glory.  I was impressed by these words in 98:1 “Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.”  Did you catch that?  He has worked salvation for him?  God doesn’t need salvation, so it must be our salvation that is in view here, yet even that is for him.

One morning I was thinking about Psalm 97:7.  This psalm, which gives the words for the popular praise song “I Exalt Thee,” see verse nine, also has this interesting verse.  “All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols – worship him all you gods!”  I found that final phrase an interesting one.  Have you ever thought about that, even inanimate idols will worship God?  Everything in the universe is subject to Jesus Christ; everything is under his sovereign control.  Though we think many objects of our affections are inanimate, they also are subject to and will eventually bow down to Jesus Christ.  That means everything we worship will someday worship him.  Knowing the end of the matter, we might as well give up on those other things and worship him now!  Once again, it’s all about Jesus!

 

 

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