Years ago when many churches stopped using hymnbooks and went to overhead projectors, pastors and worship leaders across the nation were saying "The problem is people are staring at the hymnbooks instead of worshiping God." Now today as those churches are using overhead projectors or slide projectors, pastors and worship leaders across the nation are probably saying, "The problem is people are staring at the screen instead of worshiping the Lord!"
What does it mean to worship the Lord? It’s that time when we allow our spirit to focus entirely on God and his goodness, our heart lifts up in praise to the Almighty, and our soul is flooded with the Lord’s presence. We are not thinking about ourselves or anyone around us. Our entire concentration is on the Lord.
Psalm 100 teaches us about worship. The discussion is broken into one verse at a time to make it easier to digest.
Who is to worship God? This verse tells us "all ye lands." God desires that every believer in every nation spends time worshiping him. That means everyone — no exceptions. What happens when we worship him is that our spirit is being fed as we commune with God. We are being carried above our daily problems; the worries and concerns of our everyday life seem to dim in comparison with our spiritual perception of the Lord’s majesty and power. It almost seems like a contradiction — as we are blessing the Lord, we are being blessed by the Lord. As you read through the Bible you will be amazed at how all of God’s people spent time praising Him. If Abraham, David, Habakkuk, Peter, and Paul felt it necessary to spend so much time worshiping God, don’t you think we should spend some time at it too?
We might ask what the proper way to worship is.
Psalm 100:1 tells us to "make a joyful shout." So obviously the correct way is to be loud and boisterous. But then Psalm 46:10 tells us, "Be still, and know that I am God… I will be exalted in the earth." (NKJV) So maybe we should be quiet.
Psalm 95:6 says, "O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker." (NIV) Well, we may not know if we’re supposed to be loud or quiet, but at least we know we’re supposed to worship the Lord bowing down. But Jethro informs Moses in Exodus 18:19, "Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God."(NIV) So maybe we’re supposed to stand.
1st Timothy 2:8 tells us, "I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer." (NKJV) I guess we have to lift up our hands to the Lord in order to praise him. Genesis 17:3 informs us, "And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him." (NKJV) Maybe the correct worship position is with our face to the ground. But then again Psalm 47:1 says, "Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!" (NKJV) So I guess we have to clap our hands.
My point is there is no one way to worship God. Do it when you’re standing, when you’re kneeling, when you’re lying on your face before the Lord. Praise him with a shout, with quietness, with clapping, with lifting up of hands. In all things, in all ways, at all times worship the Lord.
In our discussion of verse 1 we discussed who is to worship God (every believer in every nation) and the proper way to worship (no one way).
As we look at verse 2, let us ask, “When are we to worship God?” The first words of this verse say, "Serve the Lord." In our daily walk, when we are at work, at home, or at leisure, we are to serve Him. In all moments and all activities of our day we are to serve God. Also notice that throughout the day we are to serve the Lord with gladness. Serving God is not drudgery. It is not a long list of all the fun things that we can’t do. As we learn to serve God in everything throughout every day, we discover true joy and happiness.
We are to worship the Lord when we come before his presence. When we spend time in prayer, it would be a mistake to take all the time to ask for things from God. We need to spend time praising and magnifying God in our hearts.
We can also worship the Lord with singing. As we lift up our voice in song to God, we need to allow our heart to worship the Lord. Sometimes all we do is sing. Maybe intellectually we are thinking about the words. Perhaps we are musically enjoying the blend of the instruments and voices. Maybe we’re caught up in the rhythm and excitement of the music, or the quiet beauty of the song.
In my case, it would be trying to be somewhat close to being on key! But we are not always worshiping God. We need to do more than just sing, than just enjoy the music, than just be moved emotionally. We need to allow God’s Spirit to fill us with his presence as we focus on the goodness of the Lord. We need to worship our Creator.
Last time, we looked at who is to worship God (every believer in every nation) and the proper way to worship (no one way), and when we are to worship God (in our daily walk).
Now we will consider why we worship him. We worship him because of what he has done for us. This verse starts with the word "know." We worship him because we know these things. God has revealed these truths to us.
The word Lord in the Hebrew is Yahweh. Yahweh was the name by which God revealed himself to Israel as the covenant-keeper. We know that God keeps his promises to us. He will not break his word.
He is God. This Hebrew word is Elohim. This is the word used for the creator, the ruler of the universe. God rules over all things. We worship him because we know that no matter what may happen to us, God is in control of everything.
He made us and is continuing to form us. We worship him because we know we are in good hands. We know that he knows exactly what’s best for us. He is making us into what he wants us to be.
This little phrase "and not we ourselves" reminds us that we didn’t create ourselves, we are not “self-made men and women,” he provided the grace for us to find the way. Contextually, He will provide for the Israelites, and for us today, we can know he has provided the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Nothing we did made us deserving of his grace. It was his free gift to us.
We are his people. We have all the benefits of being part of God’s family. We know we are under his watchful care. If anything comes against us, we can know that we are not on our own, but we are his people. God will take good care of us.
God will meet all our needs as a good shepherd takes care of his sheep. We don’t have to worry about the future, because the one who holds the future is taking care of us.
Previously, we considered who is to worship God (every believer in every nation) and the proper way to worship (no one way), and when we are to worship God (in our daily walk), and why we worship him (because of what he has done for us).
Let us now ask, “How we are to worship him?” It seems the psalmist is almost giving us progressive stages of our worship of the Lord.
We start by entering his gates — the beginning of entering into his presence. We are outside going through the gate. I think of this as we are leaving the cares of this life behind and begin to enter into his presence with worship in our heart.
As we begin entering into communion with the Lord, we are overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude. We enter his presence with thanksgiving. As we praise him in our heart, we think of all the good things God has done for us. This causes us to rejoice in thanks to him.
As our heart is filled with gratitude to the Lord, we find ourselves entering into his courts, the holy of holies of God’s presence. We begin to sense his power and majesty surrounding us. We have entered into that time of close communion with our Lord, our Savior, our Healer, and our Friend.
As we sense that we are in the court of the throne room of his presence, it is then our heart is filled with praise to our God. He has done so much for us; we can’t help but praise him.
After spending time alone with God, we are struck with our utter unworthiness. His light shines on the dark areas of our life, and we confess them to him as we sense his holy presence. We are so thankful for all he has done for us. We realize how often we fail him, but we are so filled with his awesome presence that we have this strong desire to turn over every dark area of our life to the one who loves us so much.
Finally, we begin to bless God. We cannot hold back all that we are feeling toward God — our gratitude, our praise. We become like David who wrote in Psalm 103:1, "Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name." We bless the Lord with all that is within us. We praise him with every fiber of our being.
Finally, we have learned who is to worship God, the proper way to worship, when we are to worship God, why we worship him and how we are to worship him.
In our discussion on verse 3, we said we worship God because of what he has done for us. Here in verse 5, we worship him because of who he is. We worship the Lord because of all he is. This verse gives us three attributes of his character that should cause our heart to leap with praise to our Master.
The first is the Lord’s goodness. He does what is the very best for us, for our family, and even for all believers. His goodness brings justice to the wicked, but it extends his hand of mercy to those who will receive it.
The next thing that should cause us to praise the Lord is his mercy. He reaches down to us in grace. We deserve punishment but we receive his blessing. His mercy is not given to us for only a short season, but it is everlasting. It is extended to us for eternity and to our descendants for all generations.
The final thing the psalmist mentions is God’s truth. We can depend on the truth of who he is; the reliability of his written word, and the surety of his promises to us. His truth never changes. His standards of holiness are constant. In fact, it endures to all generations.
In this study we have taken a look at worship and examined it closely. We found out what worship is, we looked at who is to worship God, we examined when we should worship him, we discovered how we are to worship God, and why we are to worship him. There is only one more thing to do. Let us all go before the Lord and spend time worshipping him.
of Psalm 100 is based heavily on an article written by David Humpal.
All scriptures unless otherwise noted are from the King James.
1 Timothy 2:8 from the New International Version © 1973, Zondervan Bible Publishers
1) Who is to worship God?
A: This verse tells us "all ye lands," (every believer in every nation) and the proper way to worship (no one way).
2) When are we to worship God?
A: "Serve the Lord." We are to worship the Lord when we come before his presence.
3) Why do we worship God?
A: We worship him because of what he has done for us.
4) How we are to worship him?
A: By entering his gates
B: Entering into communion with the Lord
C: Sensing his power and majesty surrounding us
D: Bless God.
5) What are the three attributes of his character that should cause our heart to leap with praise to our Master?
A: The Lord’s goodness.
B: His mercy.
C: God’s truth.