Worship in the Psalms - A response to COVID-19



By Matt Auxt


As our churches return to "in person" services it is a good time to be reminded of the true basis of Biblical worship. With the advent of live stream, many churches have radically changed much of their worship to sound like the megachurches they desire to imitate. As we begin to gather again to sing, I want to remind the congregants about the right attitude of worship. There is much conflict within the evangelical church in America about what worship really is, so I want to share with you ten principles of Biblical worship from the book of Psalms. There are, of course, other principles and passages that will support these ten points, but I want to focus on what the psalter says about worship and how we are to worship. God’s Word describes how God wants His people to worship Him.  Biblical worship requires an understanding of God’s glory, God’s providence and sovereignty, the authority and need for God’s Word as a whole, our satisfaction with God alone, man’s total depravity, individual repentance of sin, warring against temptation, sacrifice and consistency on a daily basis, and honest prayer. Finally, we are commanded to sing with music to praise Him corporately.


God’s Glory in Worship


To begin with, we must understand the order of each of these points: the first four principles are God-focused while the last six principles are man's response to God. This aspect is pivotal for worship because man's response should always be in light of God’s goodness and salvation. The first principle is God’s glory. The Hebrew word kabod is translated into glory, meaning is heavy or great. It was the glory of God that was shown to Moses and made his face shine (Ex 33:18-20).  Glory is the substance of God that is the sheer presence of God. Part of understanding God is seeing just how great He is; understanding His great hesed or steadfast love through His sovereign choice and provision for our daily needs. In God’s hesed, God commands calamity and blessings alike, because there is nothing that is more powerful than God, that is, nothing is outside His control. There is no molecule that the risen Lord does not say, “Mine!” Also, worship needs to be pure and true, and God’s Word is both. God’s Word demonstrates worship throughout the Pentateuch where He commands specific and articulate worship focused on Him, but worship tends to be “me focused” when the Word of God is removed. This is done to make people feel more comfortable in the church which is not a biblical mindset. We are called as a church to be sanctified which comes from truth and the conviction of sin, and is not necessarily usually "comfortable". Worship is not about entertainment. We must stop feeding off our feelings and start feeding on the Word. God is our sole provider and focus, and our worship must show that. 


Man’s Role in Worship  


Man must understand that our original disposition is to be haters of God, unable to please Him in and of ourselves. The meaning of total depravity is being dead in sin, and what can a dead man do? Nothing. Human beings without Christ cannot please God, they cannot worship God, nor can they have the correct response to God without regeneration. To be right with God means to repent of our sins and leave them behind which will inevitably bring about worship. It is God’s Holy Spirit that convicts us to worship and repentance. How does that work with total depravity? I am glad you asked. Ezekiel 37 is an excellent picture of what was once dead being made alive and responding with worship. As the dry bones were raised up through the power of God, so is the depraved soul raised up to worship and know that He is the Lord their God. 

Worship is not just on Sunday, but every day, exemplifying these attributes of God which will cost you something. There is no such thing as convenient worship. Worship requires communion with God and confession, and both come from prayer. Finally, worship requires verbal praise, in congruence with daily worship of pleasing God along with the corporate worship of fellow believers. Worship is not for selfish pleasure; it is serious and causes conviction of sin. The church must return to worshiping God in the way the Bible has commanded us as seen clearly in the Psalms. 


Conclusion


As we return to church after COVID-19, let us come with the biblical model of worship. Let us return to praising God’s glorious name as the Bible demonstrates. Some people might even object to this, saying that is a stoic view of worship. But when we come to the worship of God we should be able to put chapter and verse on each decision with precision. I can’t count how many so called worship songs are imprecise and ambiguous, often not even showing any implication that God is the Person being worshipped. The Psalms were clear about God’s glory. God’s Word is clear about worship.  Our worship should be so precise that anyone and everyone will know just Who saved us, Who is the object of that worship and Who is Lord over our lives. 


Summary of Worship in the Psalms-

  1. Requires God’s Glory (8, 17, 18, 21, 29, 32, 34, 39, 45, 47, 60, 65, 70, 73, 77, 97, 99, 104, 106, 110, 112, 113, 115, 130, 133, 135, 136, 138, 139, 142, 147, 148, 150)
  2. Requires God’s Providence and Sovereignty (28, 35, 43, 55, 61, 65, 73, 77, 82, 94, 98, 103, 105, 106, 107, 108, 110, 114, 115, 121, 125, 126, 132, 135, 142, 150)
  3. Requires God’s Word (3, 7, 11, 13, 25, 28, 33, 37, 42, 44, 51, 63, 71, 75, 76, 78, 81, 86, 88, 89, 90, 111, 119, 122, 137, 138, 145)
  4. Requires being Satisfied in God (64, 66, 68, 69, 70, 72, 73, 74, 77, 80, 84, 88, 93, 96, 100, 102, 107, 115, 128, 143, 144)
  5. Requires an Understanding of Man’s Depravity (38, 44, 51, 59, 72, 77, 85, 90, 98, 99, 102, 103, 104, 106, 114, 137, 139, 145, 148)
  6. Requires Repentance (51, 55, 59, 65, 67, 86, 103, 108, 109, 137, 139, 144)
  7. Requires battle against temptation (36, 39, 52, 64, 71, 91, 100, 109, 112, 118, 119, 120, 121, 123, 124, 141, 149)
  8. Requires sacrifice and consistency (1, 6, 19, 37, 39, 51, 53, 54, 55, 57, 71, 86, 88, 95, 101, 112, 118, 119, 120, 121, 123, 129, 139, 141, 143, 146,  149)
  9. Requires Prayer (56, 58, 65, 66, 71, 79, 83, 86, 101, 111, 112, 116, 117, 119, 120, 122, 123, 131, 133, 141)
  10. Requires Singing/music (103, 113, 114, 116, 122, 132, 134, 135, 140, 142, 143, 146, 149, 150)







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