I wrote an eight week study on Psalms from the perspective of someone in music ministry at church. I thought for the next eight Fridays, I’d post a portion of the study.
Week 1 – Intro to Psalms
Psalm 29:2 – Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name: worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.
This Week’s Reading: Psalms 1-10
I’m at the library. It’s 41 degrees outside and raining. I’m listening to my favorite jazz singer. And I’ve just had the best latte from the library’s café. In this day and age of social media, I could post a picture on Instagram, update my status on Facebook and – in 140 words or less – go on Twitter and tell just how I feel about this lovely rainy day and my delicious latte.
Telling other people about a latte? Could that be considered worship? Maybe…since we use the term worship rather loosely today – we tend to use it anytime we are adoring something or someone. But the definition of the term actually means the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity. And what better place than the Psalms to find examples of worship to God? It is a book full of beautiful songs of praise written to God – the One who should be our sole focus of worship. In the next eight weeks, we will be taking a closer look at Psalms and learning more about this beautiful book of songs to God. As musicians in the church, we will be looking at why we worship, how we should worship and what worship is.
First, let’s look briefly at the background of Psalms:
Author: Many of the Psalms were authored by King David. Other authors include Asaph, Sons of Korah (more on them later!) and a few are anonymous.
Date: The psalms were written over a span of time and most scholars agree that they were collected together as a book during the time of the Babylonian captivity, about 6th century B.C.
Genre: The psalms are poems. And because they are poems, be sure to look for repetition, symbolism, themes and emotions.
The name “Psalms” come from the Greek word psalmoi, meaning “a striking or twitching of the fingers on a string.” The word eventually also included the meaning of song. And that’s what the Psalms are: poetry put to music. This collection of songs was a hymnal for the Israelites.
When we look at the book of Psalms, we see that the worship is in relationship to the true God of Israel. And, ultimately God is demanding that Israel worship Him and Him alone. No other gods are allowed. Deuteronomy, Leviticus and Joshua are a few of the books in the Old Testament that contain the commands given by God to this nation.
And for believers in Christ today, the Psalms:
– remind us that we are not alone in our physical life where we deal with grief, sorrow, anger or joy.
– teach us aspects of the character of God.
– give words to our emotions.
When we read the Psalms, we are joining in on a song that King David himself sang hundreds of years before us. We are “joining in a chorus of praise and prayer that has been going on for millennia across all cultures.”
Read Psalms 100:1-4. Write down phrases or words that describe actions we are to do in worshipping the Lord.
Psalm 100:5 includes three reasons we should worship the Lord. Underline them in your Bible, or write them down.
The joyful shout commanded in verse 1 means this worship is not kept to one’s self. The nation of Israel was supposed to keep the Law and worship God in such a way that surrounding nations would notice their love for the One, True God.
So worship is acknowledging and giving respect to God – and God alone. And worship should be done publically. “Thanksgiving occurs when one breathes a prayer of thanks to God for His mercy and goodness; praise occurs when one tells someone else about it.”
I will tell Your name to my brothers, In the midst of the congregation I will praise You.
When we see God working in our lives, we want to tell others about what He has done. This could be a testimony, it could be telling how we first came to saving faith, it could be the story of the way we have seen His hand in our life or it could be a specific incidence or spontaneous reaction of thankfulness to Him. This is worship. This is showing reverence for our God. The God of Israel, and our God today. For He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Tell someone you see today a story or testimony about the God you worship! Praise Him!
 Merriam Webster Dictionary, s.v. “worship,” accessed May 2, 2015, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worship.
 N.T. Wright, The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential, (New York: HarperOne, 2013), 12.
 Ronald B. Allen, And I Will Praise Him: A Guide to Worship in the Psalms, (Grand Rapids:
Kregel, 1992), 214.  Wright, Reflections on the Psalms, 11.  Allen, And I Will Praise, 61.