Week 6 – Praise in Worship
Psalm 8:9 – O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
This Week’s Reading: Psalms 120-130
I love watching children’s choirs sing – like the little first through fourth graders that marched up the aisles of our church on Palm Sunday. They were swinging those palm branches, waving frantically at mom and dad sitting in the congregation and crowding up the steps to get to the stage. We musicians played the jumpy 1-2-3-4 march tempo as they sang about the donkey that carried Jesus. Two little boys broke out in a sword fight – using those palm branches. “Hosanna! Hosanna!” the kids shouted. The abandon and lack of self-consciousness in those kids was refreshing to me and brought a smile to my face and a prayer in my heart that somehow the truths they were so cheerfully shouting about would reach their hearts so they would know the God they were praising.
“The praise of God is the central issue of the Psalms.”(17) Praise is good and should be an elemental part of our worship. Praise is focused on who God is and what He has done. And as we saw in week 4, the word praise comes from the Hebrew word halal, which means “to be boastful” or “to be excited in joy.” Somehow, that seems to fit those kids’ singing, doesn’t it? But as we grow older and learn more of the suffering of the world, and more of God, we grow deeper in our praise as well. We can see both the pain and the joy in life. We can respond on a much richer level of meaning.
If we think back to last week’s psalm with David drenching his couch with tears of grief, would you say grief or joy is easier for you to express to others? Why? _______________________________________________________________________
I love this paragraph from Dr Ronald Allen’s book on the Psalms entitled And I Will Praise Him: A Guide to Worship in the Psalms:
“When you and I have experienced something great in response to prayer, we need to seize the opportunity to share these experiences with the congregation. We will be strengthened when we share with others what God has done for us. The community as a whole will be strengthened as well. Our words will find response in others people. They will be prompted to share in turn. From one believer to another the glory of God may reverberate through the congregation. Glory will be added to glory; His name will be resounded in praise. His people will be excited and refreshed – such is the wonder of true praise in the community.”
Doesn’t it seem true that until you know the depths of grief you don’t really see the depths of joy that come from knowing Him? When is the last time you shared a “testimony of praise” to someone you know? Or how about someone you don’t know?? Take some time to think of a situation in your life where God’s care and love of you was shown. Be ready to praise out loud – acknowledge God’s name! – with a story of who God is and what He has done for you! If you don’t know who else to tell, tell me in the comments – I’d love to hear it!
Psalm 9:1&2 reads: I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
David the Psalmist here states he will give thanks (praise!) to the Lord with his whole heart. This is not just lip service to keep God happy with him somehow. It also is not just an emotional reaction to an experience, although praising Him with joyful singing and reacting to blessings in our life is part of it! It reminds me of the command in the Old Testament to love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. (Deut 6:4-5)
Timothy Keller states it this way: “We change when we change what we worship the most. How do we do that? By seeing that Jesus’ own heart was crushed and broken as he died on the Cross for us (Psalm 22:14). It is as we worship a crucified Savior that our hearts are transformed.”(19)
Who are you worshipping in times of joy? Who do you bring your sacrifice of praise to? I pray that your love for Him, the Savior who died for you, will be your object of worship.
This week, tell your story of praise to someone, or write it as a post on Facebook. And when it comes to worship time in the church service this week? Sing with your whole heart – bringing your praise to God.
Resources: 17 Ronald Allen, And I Will Praise Him: A Guide to Worship in the Psalms 19 Timothy Keller, 2015, “The Revolutionary Christian Heart”, The Timothy Keller Blog, February 6, 2015. Accessed May 3, 2015. http: //www.timothykeller.com/blog/2015/2/6/the-revolutionary- christian-heart?rq=worship