Thursday, June 30, 2016

"Know before whom you stand."

From a sermon about worship by Paul Manuel (soon to be on his site). The text is Psalm 100.
Shout joyfully to the LORD all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing.

No matter what the stresses of the previous week, no matter what difficulties the worshiper may have encountered, he should leave them all behind when coming before God. How is that possible, especially when some or all of those stresses will still be there when normal life resumes? Can a person be joyful under such circumstances? …Yes, he can, with the right perspective.

Many synagogues display an imperative on or above the ark containing the scrolls of God’s word:
“Know before whom you stand.”

.... Worship is not about you; it is about Him. Therefore, you should not limit it to when you are emotionally disposed. Worship is mainly a matter of will; it is what you decide to do even when it is not what you desire to do. ....

For the LORD is good;
His mercy is forever, and His faithfulness [endures] to every generation.
Worship should not be unplanned or unfocused. It is not enough for worship to be exciting (or exuberant), it must also be excellent (even exceptional). This high level of quality does not just mean the musicians are skilled, although that is certainly appropriate. They must also be committed to the One they are serving with their music. To that end, they must craft worship that directs attention in only one direction and to only one object. Similarly, the person who leads the congregation in worship must have as his goal to focus people’s minds on the One who matters most. To do that, it is helpful to highlight God’s attributes, as the author does here, making them a means of eliciting the congregation’s response. The author chooses three: God’s goodness, mercy, and faithfulness, all of which appear frequently in other psalms.

These three attributes serve as the motivation for the congregation’s devotion as the psalmist closes his song of thanksgiving. When the worshiper comes before the LORD, he should not do so merely out of habit or obligation. Neither should he do so without a plan for expressing his devotion. He should have a reason that reflects an appreciation of who God is and of what He has done for His people. ....

Psalm 100 is “A psalm of thanksgiving.” Whether or not for a special occasion, it expresses The Way of Worship this author prescribes for his audience.
  • Worship should be joyful.
  • Worship should be thoughtful.
  • Worship should be thankful.
  • Worship should be purposeful.
Psalm 100 has been part of Israel’s hymnbook for centuries, and its recommendations are appropriate for the people of God in any era, including today. Are they the way you worship?
"Worship is not about you; it is about Him" reminds me of the paraphrase of Psalm 100:3 (KJV) in verse 2 of the hymn All People That on Earth Do Dwell: "without our aid He did us make."