Written by My Brothers and Sisters
All articles are related to various biblical topics.
The Reality of God in Worship
By Tommy J. Darbe
Friend & fellow worker in the church plant known as Calvary Meadow Mesa.
This article comes from the heart of someone who is not a worship leader by any stretch of the imagination. If there were ever a category for worshipers based on their musical gifts, I would fall into the “Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord”column.
I do know enough to understand that if music soothes the heart of the savage breast in a godless world, how much more does worship and praise to God do to the regenerated hearts of those who trust in Him.
Rather than music that soothes our flesh and delights our carnal drives, our music must be to God alone. We need to bring to Him our best and sweetest sound as a love offering before the mighty God of Heaven. We are called to worship Him in song.
Psalms 105:2 proclaims “Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all his wondrous works.” “Sing to Him” implies a one way, vertical communication to God and no one else. To talk of His wondrous works implies a horizontal communication to others about what God has done for us.
Charles Spurgeon put singing on a higher level when he said “Singing is such a pleasant exercise that it is a pity to waste it on trifles, or on worse than trifles.” When I read verses like “your mercy O Lord is in the heavens, your faithfulness reaches to the clouds, and your righteousness is like the great mountains. Your judgments are a great deep.” (Psalm 36:5-6 NKJ), I realize that this is more than just a song. It is not a song written out of the library of our worldly thoughts, but is worship and praise born of the desire to exalt the one, true God.
Psalms are songs of praise to God as our Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer. Praise is recognizing, appreciating, and expressing God’s greatness. Joy is a by-product of Praise to God and singing will naturally spring from a joyful heart.
The book of Psalms is an instruction manual, a songbook, and a prayer book. These inspired writings are God-breathed. In Hebrew, the title of the book means praises. The English title is derived from the Greek word Psalmoi, which denotes music of stringed instruments or pious songs.
These praises take many forms. They cry out to God for his deliverance. They praise God by declaring his greatness and gracious deeds. They recognize the blessings of God in thanksgiving and reveal to us that God should be praised for his works and that he rules supreme in all things.
Music and worship are a marriage made in heaven. David instituted music for the temple worship in I Chronicles 25. Worship is not to be done haphazardly. It involves the whole person and music helps focus worship by bringing ones thoughts and emotions to God. Through music we can reflect upon our sins as well as celebrate Gods greatness.
In worship, the heart of the worshiper is revealed. Songs can bring out the best and the worst in people because they touch something in our soul that longs to be brought to the surface.
Songs can be used for good or for evil. For this reason, Satan has garnered so much success in the music industry today. He has the ability to capture the hearts of the lost through music and weave his web of deceit in the lyrics. A speck of truth can be merged with a dab of lies to sound so convincing.
The Psalms was Israel’s ancient, God inspired, hymnbook. It defines the proper spirit and content of worship and serves as a guide in approaching God in prayer and worship. In the Psalms, we see a whole range of experiences and emotions expressed.
The Eternal Father Revealed
Songs have a way of pulling out emotions in us we would otherwise be unable to express in other mediums. Worship can more easily flow from us in song because it reveals what the worshipper recognizes about God. The revelation of God through worship and praise occurs on many levels. They form a multi-dimensional picture of the Father in His different attributes. Let’s look at this portrait as it is illustrated in song.
In Psalms 136 the phrase, “His mercy endures forever.” is called an antiphonal refrain and is spoken by the Psalmist as if in response to worship. Its repetition teaches an important lesson. One of God’s characteristics is mercy.
Psalms 36 shows us another attribute of God. It presents to us a wonderful and majestic God. We can see God in all His righteousness. Psalms 36:7 throws loving-kindness into the mix and a picture slowly takes shape.
Psalm 111:2 tells us that his works are great and pondered by all who delight in them. The heart of the Psalmist delights in all that God has accomplished in creation. Psalms 111:3 declares that there is no work which is not splendid and majestic.
God’s Sovereignty over Creation Revealed
Through the Psalms, we behold His might and glory. He is God. He spoke the heavens and everything in them into existence (Psalms 33:9). God’s utterances created the universe out of nothing. Genesis 1:3 records Gods first creative act by speaking, “Let there be light”. The heavens declare Gods sovereignty over creation.
When I personally think that this entire world was designed by Him alone, I understand He did not just create it and then let it go. Nor was chance a factor in its design. All was perfectly made. He has tight control over everything. It is His power that keeps us from spinning out of control. There was no duck tape, band-aide fix from mankind here. Paul confirms this in Colossians 1:17. Through Him, all things are held together.
“The Lord reigns. He is clothed in majesty” (Psalm 93:1NKJ). He rules with absolute authority over creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalms 19:1 NKJ). We see his handy work in the skies above us. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God (Heb 11:3).
I think of natural causes as God in action. The power of the sea and tides are no comparison to the power of God. The energy produced by the sun pales to the mighty power that flows from his words and thoughts. Yet those very forces speak of His glory.
Focusing my thoughts on God moves me to praise Him and to raise my hands to heaven because the more I come to know Him, the more I can appreciate what He has done for me and the more I love Him.
A Mighty Fortress is our God
When Martin Luther penned A Mighty Fortress is our God in 1529, could he have been thinking of such verses as Psalms 46:1? “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
God is our hope. Psalms uses the strongest possible language to develop this concept. The powerful imagery Psalms 18:12 uses should give us hope. David calls God his strength, his rock, his fortress and deliverer, the horn of his salvation and his high tower. Being a military man, David characterized God using military symbols. God is our solid foundation, our refuge from harm, and our shield. He is the king and source of our salvation. Martin Luther’s words strikes a dynamic parallel to those of King David when he wrote. “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing.”
God’s love for his people is apparent throughout the book of Psalms. His love for his people is displayed in his righteousness, holiness, and mercy toward them. God will defend the righteous against the fool (Psalms 14:4-6). David spoke of God as his refuge and defense in times of trouble. He is our guardian and is fully capable of sustaining our cause when all odds are against us. When we feel powerless, God can help us. His strength can overcome any pain or trial if we put our full trust in Him.
When I want to escape the insanity of life for a time, the Psalms turn me to God and my circumstances are put into the perspective of Gods eternal grace. I find emotional ordeals take a greater toll on me than physical trials. There is solace in the writings of the psalmist because they express very similar life experiences. When I have heart issues, they address each and every one of them.
God the Mighty Warrior
Spiritual warfare is raging in our lives. The devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). When the battle is pitched and the ground I stand on is being heavily contested, I find the Psalms to be a source of strength and encouragement. My confidence comes from knowing God and having a right heart before Him. When this happens, I understand that the battle is not mine but Gods. The foe has already been defeated and this drives my worship of God to a greater degree.
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the Shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1 NKJ).
These mighty men of God knew where their hope lay and were profoundly aware of their the inadequacy of men. They cried out to the only true source of assistance, “Give us help from trouble, for human help is useless” (Psalms 108:12 NKJ).
David anguishes and struggles before God in his circumstances. This is worship in the midst of Spiritual Warfare. In times of trouble, the joy and peace are in God because He works independent of our circumstances. Even though we are perplexed at times, we are to continue in faith, trusting God in all matters. In times of stress you can sing the words of Psalm 91:7. “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.” This is a cause to worship. A true worshiper sings and worships God regardless of their circumstances.
God the Righteous Judge
Sincere praise also recognizes the righteousness of God in judging evil. It is easy to recognize His mercy and grace, His love and compassion and longsuffering, but as worshipers of God, we must also see His judgment upon all who have no fear of God.
God is totally fair about His judgments. Psalm 9:7-8(KJV) points out that we can bank on this solid truth. “But the LORD shall endure forever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment. And he shall judge the world in righteousness; he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.”
God, Revealer of the Hearts.
An old radio drama asked the question, who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Psalms bring to light the innermost reflections of our heart to God. It allows God to search our heart and know our anxious thoughts, and reveal the sin lurking there in order to lead us to the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23). We recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit for it is the Spirit who convicts us of sin and brings us broken before God. The depth of the heart of the worshipper is such that their souls are laid bare before God.
The Glory of God.
We see the glory of God revealed in his creation, His mercy, His Grace, His sovereignty, and his love. In it is seen the past, present and future love, which the Father would reveal in His Messiah, Jesus Christ.
In contrast to this Glory, our prayers, praises and worship seem so pitiful and shallow compared to those of David, the sons of Korah, Asaph and the other writers who without shame, brought their lives before the Lord in worship and prayer. They were living sacrifices. This is true communication with God. Worship in its purest form, is to be in the presence of the Lord, worshiping Him day and night. His glory is among His people.
A God to be Sought by All
In Psalm 63:1(KJV), David wrote, “Oh God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee…” David sought God with an eagerness that disregarded, time, place, and circumstances. He longed for Gods fullness in his life and his communication with God illustrates that powerful relationship. God knows us and he desires to have genuine communication with us.
God is the source of all things and He alone is worthy of our worship. Moses made this clear in Psalm 90:1-2(NKJ), “God, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth or ever you had formed the earth and the world. Even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.” He is deserving of our worship and praise because he is God and we need no other reason. But, if you ever needed a reason, the Psalms contains more reasons than you will ever need.
We know that without God we are lost. It is by His grace that we live and by His design that we are chosen to worship Him at all. Psalms 95:7 frames the reason we should worship God. “For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of his hand.” The Lord, He is God! If God is King, then we are to worship His greatness and Majesty.
Have you ever noticed that the book of Psalms begins with blessed is the man and ends with Praise the Lord? It begins with the promise of a blessing and ends with praise. We can praise God who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph 1:3). We can praise God for His promises for we know that His promises are true. He is not slack concerning His promises as some men count slackness (2 Peter 3:15).
A God Who Answers Prayers
The Psalms is not only a guide to worship, but also a guide to prayer. Our prayers are a direct line to the throne room of God. The psalmist did more than just create a prescribed mechanical way of addressing God. They confessed sins, expressed doubts, and fears, asked for protection from their enemies, help in times of trouble, asked forgiveness of their trespasses, thanked God, praised God, and worshiped God. They were just like us but unlike us, they were not ashamed to come before the throne with boldness and speak their hearts to the Almighty that knows the hearts of all men.
We can pray to Him honestly and directly. We can pray for anything. When we receive forgiveness, we move from alienation to intimacy, from guilt to innocence. Our first thought and attitude should be of prayer. Prayer allows us to feel that special intimacy with God. Rather than an endless, meaningless drone of chants, the prayers of the psalmist came from the real issues of their life. The word of God shows us that the Father is interested in the smallest details of our lives and wants to hear about them. David spoke with confidence when he said. “The Lord has heard my plea for help; the Lord accepts my prayer.” God is a God that not only wants to hear our prayers, He wants to answer them.
What are the characteristics of a proper prayer and how does the praise in Psalms distinguish them from a prescribed and mechanical way of addressing God? Prayer is talking to God. It is establishing communication with Him. The elements of our prayer are relationship, thankfulness, worship, confession, petition, and intercession. All of these characteristics are found in the prayers of Psalms.
Our prayers should inspire faith to grow. Psalms 86:7 tells us how this happens.
“In the day of my trouble
I will call upon You, For You will answer me.” One
will notice that God will not only answer, but the Psalmist believed he
would answer. The word “will” is a word that denotes certainty. This confirms
Jesus statement Mark 11:24, “Therefore
I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe
that you receive them, and you will have them.”
Be careful what you carry in your heart when coming before God, for David’s warning in Psalms 66:18 is sobering. “If I regard iniquity in my heart the lord will not hear.” God hears and understands our prayers and worship, no matter how impotent they may be. God knows the intents of our heart. The depth of our communication with Him is in direct proportion to our relationship with God.
Relationships are built on communication and prayer is sharing your hopes, dreams, fears, and secrets with the only one who is capable of accepting you for all your little quirks. We cannot expect to establish a close relationship with friend or family unless we speak to them. We are dependent on Gods mercy; therefore, we need to establish that proper approach to Him in prayer.
A God Who Desires Relationships
Listen to Psalms 16:2 as it establishes the relationship. “O my soul, you have said to the Lord, You are my Lord.” In our hearts, He is our heavenly Father, our Lord and King. It is a statement, not of ownership, but of loyalty and submissiveness out of a heart of love.
What I find so extraordinary is the eagerness of the psalmist who longs to spend time in talking to God with such familiarity, even in the worst of times. In Psalm 4, for instance, David begins his prayer with “Hear me when I call O God of my righteousness.” He was calling out to the Lord to listen. Like the Psalmist we should be a people whose passions are toward the things of God.
Charles Spurgeon spoke of knowing God in this way, “God is Good. You can only know this by experience.” You can attend every the bible college in America, and fill the entire wall space of your house with degrees but, without having a personal relationship with God, it would all be an enormous waste of time and effort. It was this closeness to God that spurred the Psalmist to write, “I will sing about the Lord's faithful love forever; with my mouth I will proclaim Your faithfulness to all generations”. God is faithful in our relationship with Him.
Our Attitude of Worship
Psalms teaches us that we must humble ourselves. In Psalms 25, humility is expressed in two different ways. The first is the proper reverence toward God’s holiness and the second is the proper attitude toward sin. “The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way.”(Psalm 25:9 NKJ). You can still be humble and boast. As long as you’re boasting is in line with Psalms 34:2. “My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad.” Our boasting should be in God, not ourselves or our achievements. Our works have no heavenly value, in the light of our salvation. We have nothing to boast about. Psalms 34 is proper boasting because it is not self-focused, but on the proper object of our boast, God alone. For us to approach God, we must come with a humble spirit. This is right, for God regards humility. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart -- These, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17 NKJ).
Our Call to Worship
Do we really understand the God we serve? The arrogance of man is obvious in the world system. Yet David said of man in Psalm 144:3-4, “O Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of Him? Or the son of man that You think of Him? Man is like a mere breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” David understood the brevity of life. Life is short. James reminded us of the same thing in James 4:14. “Life,” He said, “is a vapor.” Our own self-importance blinds us to our real condition. We are like the Laodician church in Revelation 3:17, wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. Yet as insignificant as man is, in contrast to God’s glory, He is still precious in the eyes of the Lord.
Because of this, we should live for God while we have the time. Don’t waste your life by selecting an inferior purpose that has no lasting value. Wealth will not save you; politics will not save you, live for God. He alone can make your life purposeful and meaningful. Praise God. Worship God. Rejoice in God’s care, whether in times of prosperity or adversity. Blessed are those whose God is the Lord.
God is faithful and just. When we put our trust in Him, he quiets our hearts.
Because he is faithful throughout history, we can trust Him in times of trouble. To the believer, faith is the means in which the evidence and glory of God is certain upon our hearts and minds. There can be no doubt to the worshipper that God is reliable.
I am so glad that my God is a singing God. When we honor God in praise, worship and prayer, the fullness of His presence will manifest itself in our lives. Cry out with the unknown Psalmist in 135:3, “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; Sing praises to His name, for it is lovely”. When we realize how we benefit from knowing God, we can fully express our thanks to Him. When we thank Him often, we develop spontaneity in our prayer life and praise and worship Him with freedom.
True worship of God will bring lasting peace, and joy.
While the sinners’ heart can be soothed, it is only carnal and temporary.
We never have to worry that God will run out of love, because it flows from a well that never runs dry. Like living water that flows from the throne of God, it fills us up to overflowing and refreshes our spirit like cool water in a desert oasis. Like his love, our adoration toward Him should flow easy in our worship and praise.
By Tommy J. Darbe