Don’t Raise Your Hands in Vain: Reflections on True Worship from Psalm 111

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Photo Creds: lapideo on Flickr

Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. –Psalm 111:1-2

When you hear the word worship what is the first thought that comes to your mind? For many of us, we think of worship as the thing we do on Sunday mornings as a faith family. We gather for a worship service in the worship room to sing worship songs led by a worship leader. But did you know it is possible to attend worship services every single Sunday and never actually worship?

It makes me think of the time I went to watch Duke play Indiana in the NCAA tournament in 2002. The game was played at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. It was a great game! But I really didn’t care who won. Kentucky basketball fans hate few things more than Duke and Indiana basketball. My granddad and I joked that it would be awesome if they could both lose. Even though I didn’t like either team, I found myself clapping for the first player who was introduced…for Duke! My granddad quietly leaned over and asked politely, but firmly, “What on earth are you doing?” I didn’t know! I definitely wasn’t cheering for Duke to win. I wasn’t a Duke fan. Being in the place where Kentucky played their home games and seeing Duke sitting on Kentucky’s bench and hearing the same announcer from every Kentucky game caused me to clap from habit. I had no love for Duke in my heart even though my hands made it look like I did.

Many people do the same thing I did at Rupp Arena in church buildings on Sunday mornings. Their hands, words, and actions make it look like they are worshiping God, but their hearts are far from him. True worship is less about physical acts and more about the direction of the heart. Worship begins in the heart and directs love, joy, and obedience toward God in every area of life.

Psalm 111 begins with three simple words: “Praise the Lord!” This psalm is all about worship. What do you notice about the psalmist’s worship in verses 1-2?

First, his worship is God-centered. The eyes of his heart are gazing on God and his awesomeness.

Second, his worship flows from his heart. While you can hide your heart from others by singing the lyrics of worship songs, you can’t hide the desires and motives of your heart from God.

Third, his worship is both personal and corporate. That means he personally worships the Lord with his whole heart, but he also worships the Lord “in the company of the upright.” It is important to practice personal worship every day without forgetting how important it is to worship the Lord together with your faith family.

Finally, his worship is not mindless or joyless. I love verse two. In it, the psalmist says that those who delight in the works of God will study them. Do you see that? There is an inseparable connection between the mind and heart. Between thinking and rejoicing. The greatest motivation you could ever have to study your Bible, labor over theological truths, or teach a biblical theme to your children is found in this verse. Those who study the Lord’s works delight in them. Deep, God-centered joy is insatiable motivation to know the Lord. In this sense, theology is never boring! The whole goal of theology is joy!

We don’t worship God because someone forces us to do it. And we don’t worship God without thinking. We think deeply about who God is and all the things he has done. This deep meditation on God fuels worship in those whose joy is in him. Any kind of worship that is forced isn’t really worship to begin with. True worship is free. It is the free and glad-hearted desire of God’s people to meditate on his works and delight in what they see. Worship involves the full capacity of the mind and the full range of emotions of the heart.

You never have to prepare your heart to worship falsely. That’s easy. You just show up and go through the motions. You just ignore the daily reading of Scripture and prayer. You just build your own kingdom in your own image in your family, work, and leisure. But to worship truly? Oh, this requires much work–not to earn God’s favor. But to truly rejoice more in God than anything else, you will need to work hard to know and meditate on the things of God.

When was the last time you studied God? If you are struggling to come to a place of genuine and robust worship in every area of your life; if you are struggling to worship the Lord with your whole heart, then give yourself to the study of God. Meditate on who he is and what he has done for you in Jesus and see how your heart responds. I pray your experience would be that of the psalmist,

Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

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Morning Mashup 08/08

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A mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

Beat God to the Punch: Because Jesus Demands Your Life | Eric Mason | $0.99

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Heaven on Earth: Capturing Jonathan Edwards’s Vision of Living in Between | Stephen Nichols | $3.99

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ARTICLES

John Piper’s Funeral Prayer for a Family of Five | John Piper

Horrific tragedy. Beautiful prayer. Endless hope.

Is the New Evangelical Liturgy Really an Improvement? | Kevin DeYoung

Written three years ago. Still true today. I’m thankful to be a part of an SBC church in the South that actually takes liturgy seriously.

If Pedophilia is a Sexual Orientation, Now What? | Denny Burk

Because of our deep connection to our father Adam, it is possible for our sexual incongruity to feel quite natural to us. But the incongruity is not rendered congruous simply because it feels “natural.” Natural is defined by God’s revelation, not by our feelings one way or the other. So Christianity provides a limiting factor that stops the normalization of pedophilia in its tracks. I don’t think the spirit of our age can provide the same.

Karl Barth on the Olympic GamesKarl Barth on the Olympic Games | John Fea

Doesn’t sound like a fan.

Nicene and Quicunquan Styles | Fred Sanders

When Fred Sanders writes anything on the Trinity, stop everything and read!

The Surprising Truth About False Teachers | David Mathis

No matter how small a minority the church becomes, and no matter how fragile we feel, the very one who is both the subject of true teaching and the model of true living is also our life-and-soul-preserver.

VIDEOS

 

Morning Mashup 06/08

 

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A mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

C.S. Lewis’s Remarkable (and Surprising) Sermon | Justin Taylor

Seventy-five years ago tomorrow C.S. Lewis ascended the pulpit at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford and delivered “The Weight of Glory,” one of the most insightful sermons of the twentieth century.

6 Ways to Influence a Culture of Evangelism | Taylor Turkington

We must depend on Jesus for help to lead well, but we must also be intentional. So how do we lead well in evangelism? The tone we set in our community changes the way those around us see the value of proclaiming the gospel. Here are six ideas to consider as others watch you.

On Abortion and Racism: Why There is a Greater Evil in this Election | Thabiti Anyabwile

It’s been more difficult to be an African-American and an “Evangelical” or “Reformed” these last few years. It was never an easily negotiated identity or space. But a certain quietude about matters of “race” and racism made it possible to enjoy a measure of unity in theological matters and some seeming trust as spiritual family. A degree of political affinity, defined largely by the obvious wrongs we opposed, created a co-belligerence that kept our eyes off our differing political needs and emphases along ethnic lines. Suspicion and mistrust were kept at bay by a tacit sense that some things were more important.

Can You Name All Ten Commandments? If Not, This (and 18 Other Questions) Could Get You Deported | Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra

These questions, among the nearly 20 questions in CT’s quiz below, have been asked of Christian converts from Islam who are applying for asylum in the United Kingdom. Wrong answers put them at a high risk of deportation.

6 Theses on Online Writing and Civility | Jake Meador

Put another way, the problem with internet writing isn’t just the particular internet tools we use; it’s also with the people using the tools. And those same people who make such a mess on blogs or public social media channels are the ones populating our private forms of online media. So even if we no longer have to deal with particularly destructive tools, we still must deal with the destructive sins we ourselves commit every day. A shift toward more private media, then, may help reduce the impact of certain problems created in part by bad technology, but it cannot solve the problem entirely.

Four Ways for Fathers to Engage at Home | Jeremy Adelman

Admittedly, it is often difficult to remain engaged at home. After a long day, it is easy to detach from our family and enter the worlds of media, technology, and sports. Our minds are occupied with the work we left behind or looking forward to the sleep that is to come, but God calls us to more as husbands and fathers.Here are four ways, among many, that men can be more engaged at home.

Fahrenheit 381 | Carl Trueman

Trueman and others at Mortification of Spin have called complementarian leaders (CBMW & TGC) to the carpet on serious charges of Trinitarian heresy. I’ll be following this exchange closely.

VIDEOS

Morning Mashup 06/07

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A mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Quran

Should I Attend a Homosexual Wedding if the Service is Completely Secular? | Kevin DeYoung

In short, as personally painful as it may be, and as much as the world will call us names and castigate our motives, those who believe marriage is between a man and a woman should not attend a ceremony that purports to be the marrying of a man and a man or a woman and a woman, even if that ceremony is completely secular in nature.

Dear Hollywood | Ella Frech (11 year-old)

Me Before You comes out tomorrow. I’ve never read the book, but my mom told me about it and I read the reviews online. It’s the story of a guy who gets in an accident, and has a spinal cord injury, and has to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. A guy you think should want to die because he has to live a life that looks like mine? Well, what’s wrong with a life that looks like mine?

Introducing the Evangelical History Blog | Thomas Kidd & Justin Taylor

What do we mean by “evangelical history”? Justin and I both have broad interests in the history of evangelical Christianity, and the history of Christianity, so those will be a major focus here. But we’re also interested in a Christian view of all kinds of history: political, military, social, and other topics.

Your Church Needs You to Sing | Stephen Miller

Our God is a wise Father who knows what is best for his children. He has commanded us in his perfect word to gather as the church to sing praises to him not because He needs it, but because we need it.

One Facebook, Two Worlds, Three Problems | Trevin Wax

When we are united by outrage, we look and sound just like the world. So let’s think about the long-term formative effect of our Facebook feeds that reinforce our righteousness, and figure out ways to respond with cheerful confidence in God’s good purposes for the world.

VIDEOS

Morning Mashup 06/03

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A mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

ARTICLES

Fearfully and Autistically Made | Valerie Dunham

“In my experience, autism isn’t simply the narrowing of relationships to people and the outside world; it is the altering of relationships to people and the outside world. Perhaps that’s something that needs to be accepted, not cured.”

Embracing Liturgy in a Digital Age | David Roark

“As we embrace the liturgical practices of centuries past, I fear we’ll forget we live in the 21st century. When used discerningly, today’s technological innovations can both bolster our discipleship efforts and provide new platforms from which we can proclaim and embody the gospel.”

My Husband Doesn’t Put the Kids to Bed, And It’s Really Okay | Melissa Edington

“During the course of our seventeen years of marriage, my responsibilities and Chad’s have shifted and changed. In life, you adapt to your current circumstances, and marriages have to adapt as well.”

Evangelical Leaders: Tell Us to Vote for Clinton | Nick Rodriguez

An interesting perspective with which I’m inclined to disagree. Yet, it’s important to consider. Whether you agree or not, the motivation is valid.

5 Reasons to Read Missionary Biographies to Your Children | Christina Fox

“One evening, I was reading a different genre than usual. As I neared the end of the book, my eyes started to burn. I blinked and my vision blurred. Before I knew it, tears were streaming down my face. This was unusual for story time. I turned to my son, handed him the book, and whispered, “Can you finish, please?” He took over reading for me while I sat there in tears. We were reading a biography of Nate Saint.”

My Carefully Considered Views on the Upcoming Presidential Election | Alan Jacobs

“The Republican capitulation to Trump — complete with rhetorical reversals, especially on the part of Marco Rubio, that rival or perhaps even exceed any Trumpian schizo-inversions — marks the end of that party as a coherent and non-laughable body. If I were thirty I could imagine its renewal in my lifetime. I haven’t been thirty for a loooong time. So long, GOP. It was sucky knowing you.”

VIDEOS

Morning Mashup 05/19

 

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A mashup of Kindle Deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

Hero Found: The Greatest POW Escape of the Vietnam War by Bruce Henderson ($1.99)

 

H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle by Brad Lomenick ($1.99)

Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way by J.I. Packer ($1.99)

The God Who Justifies by James White ($3.99)

ARTICLES

Sex, Hookups, and God – Jarvis Williams urges both men and women to pursue sexual purity for the glory of God and their own joy.

Why I Am Not an Atheist – This series looks promising.

Life’s Not Fair, So Win and Lose Well – Barnabas Piper: “Fair has become equity in the finish instead of equity in the process. This perspective says a reward is due just for showing up, not because it’s earned. It cheapens real rewards for actual successes, and as it creeps into different areas of life, it undermines valuable assets such as hard work or giftedness.

Five Signs Your Church Has Gone Too Far With Marketing – Jonathan Howe with a helpful list of examples of going too far in church marketing.

The Wonder of Waking Up to an Ordinary Day – Trevin Wax shares a letter written by G.K. Chesterton whose writing can make any ordinary day extraordinary.

Gandalf, Job, and the Indignant Love of God – He had me at Gandalf.

Do We Sing Jesus Christ’s Name in the Psalter? | Travis Fentiman, Reformed Books Online – Travis Fentiman: “The Psalter has often been valued less than it should as a manual for sung praise because it is claimed that we do not sing Jesus Christ’s personal name in it . . . This claim also happens to be false; we do sing Jesus Christ’s personal name throughout the Psalter, which will be overwhelmingly shown.”

10 Ways to Love Your Spouse Today – Super practical. I’ll be using some of these today.

Amy Carmichael: Unconditionally Surrendered to her Beloved King – Jani Ortlund on Amy Carmichael: “We are saved to serve. She lived out that theme until her death.”

Our Respectable Sin – One word: laziness.

VIDEOS

 

Morning Mashup 08/07

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Lots and lots and lots of articles. Including two videos. An extended mashup of articles and videos for your information, edification, entertainment, and enjoyment.


 

What’s It Like to Abort Your Own Child? – I almost teared up just reading the title. The story will beckon your tears fall. I’m thankful for Bethany Jenkins for telling it.

3 Reasons the Campaign on Planned Parenthood is Winnable – Doug Wilson with reasonable encouragement for the pro-life movement. “Think of it this way — Planned Parenthood is serving as the designated victim. This is not scapegoating, or unjust in any way, because in this case the scapegoat really is guilty.”

Trump Gets Spotlight, But it Might Burn – We can only hope that the more Trump speaks, the more voters will see how outlandishly insane he is. If Trump cared at all about the GOP winning the White House, he would drop out or back off. He doesn’t. He won’t.

News for Democrats…It’s a Baby! – Kristen Powers at USA Today shows how Democrats are on “the wrong side of history” when it comes to Planned Parenthood and abortion.

There is No Pro-Life Case for Planned Parenthood – Ross Douthat does it again. Don’t miss this important piece: “Tell the allegedly “pro-life” institution you support to set down the forceps, put away the vacuum, and then we’ll talk about what kind of family planning programs deserve funding. But don’t bring your worldview’s bloody hands to me and demand my dollars to pay for soap enough to maybe wash a few flecks off.”

Shocking Videos and the Art of Looking Away – Important consideration for those of us denouncing videos of Planned Parenthood, yet ignoring videos of police brutality.

In Zimbabwe, We Don’t Cry for Lions – Whoa. Interesting and important perspective. We in the West can be so blindly arrogant. “Did all those Americans signing petitions understand that lions actually kill people? That all the talk about Cecil being “beloved” or a “local favorite” was media hype? Did Jimmy Kimmel choke up because Cecil was murdered or because he confused him with Simba from ‘The Lion King’?”

Ray Rice on NFL Return – Ray Rice expresses desire to return to the NFL, and hopes a team will give him a chance to “hang them up the right way.”

The Most Meaningless Abortion Statistic Ever – I was directed to this article by Albert Mohler in yesterday’s edition of The Briefing. It was written in 2013, but is very important in light of the Planned Parenthood defense of their actions.

Obama on Killing Humans and Harvesting Organs – He called it an “atrocity” while in Africa discussing the tribal killings of a particular sect of people and the harvesting of their organs for ritualistic purposes. Obama was disgusted by this practice, all the while ignoring an eerily similar situation in his own country. My heart weeps for his blindness. Lewis’ idea of “chronological snobbery” comes to mind with Obama’s simultaneous rejection of tribal killings and support of scientific killings.

If Planned Parenthood Goes, Where Do Women Go? – Answer: many places.

How Not to Pray Against Cultural Decline – Christian historian Thomas Kidd offers advice grounded in colonial America on how to engage the culture with prayer.

Should the Church Divorce from the State in Marriage? – Rick Phillips gives six reasons why the church shouldn’t jump ship just yet.

The Sound of Silence – Kevin DeYoung gives ten compelling reasons why congregational singing may be absent in your church, I love reading DeYoung because he just makes sense.

The Gospel and Porn – Good stuff from Fred Zaspel: “Godliness is not attained by zaps. There is no switch to pull that brings us immediately to perfection — well, not on this side of the grave, that is.”

7 Pieces of Advice for Young Pastors – I don’t love everything Ron Edmonson says or writes, but this is pretty good.

Check out this video that does an adequate job dispelling Planned Parenthood’s 3% abortion myth.

And just in case you missed it, here is the 5th undercover video exposing Planned Parenthood. Please, watch the video. I am afraid many people are coming to solid conclusions about the videos without actually watching them. Watch and share.

We need some standard or rule from outside of us to help us sort out the warring impulses of our interior life. –Tim Keller

The Window to Worship

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We are all worshipers. I’m not referring to we Christians. I’m referring to we humans. All humans are worshipers. There is really no such thing as a true atheist. We all worship a god of some kind. It may take the form of deity or it may be something smaller like family, sports, shopping, or pets (I know none of you dress your dogs in those ridiculous doggy-sweaters, right?). Regardless of the object of worship, we all worship something.

Worship is the result of seeing something pleasing to the soul and responding with praise, adoration, desire, delight. It is seeing and beholding the glory of something. Worship begins with seeing and ends with beholding. Worship begins with tasting and ends with savoring. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the world of sports.

I have had many amazing experiences both playing and watching basketball games, but none of them compare with watching the University of Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team play in Rupp Arena. I have been to around 50 games at Rupp and the experience is the same every time. Elation. Adrenaline. E-Rupp-tion. Worship?

Sitting in the midst of a sea of blue (23,000 strong) is a unique experience, especially when the Cats are introduced. Rupp Arena is an absolutely deafening place when Kentucky is playing well. One thing that is abundantly clear about fandom in Big Blue Nation is that it is worship. Fans from many walks of life join in one loud accord of praise to the mighty Wildcats.

We all (myself included) see the glory of a basketball program that has won more games than any other program in NCAA men’s basketball history and behold it with adoration. We taste the greatness of championship team and savor it by spending many dollars and hours to have more of them. The problem is that the elation and electricity that fills Rupp Arena quickly fades when (ok, if) Kentucky ever loses. Kentucky basketball is a god that will crumble and crush you if you choose to worship at its base.

Nevertheless, worship, regardless of the object, is a matter of seeing and tasting, beholding and savoring.

It is the same with the only kind of worship that will not leave you in the rubble of your false god. True worship is seeing and tasting Someone who can always delight your eyes and leave you spiritually salivating.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!
–Psalms 118:1

We give thanks to God because we see and taste that he is good. Worship of God begins with seeing and ends with beholding with delight. Our faith in him is not blind. We once were blind, but now we see. Believers have been born again, renewed, found, and liberated. We once were slaves to sin and false worship. But now we are slaves to God, glad slaves to beholding and savoring the glory of One who can withstand our worship. The psalmist commands us to “give thanks to the Lord.” Why should we give thanks, praise, worship, etc.? Because of what we see. We should give thanks “for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.

We have ample reason to worship God. The primary reason we should and indeed must worship God is his character. When we see his holy, faultless, and perfect character for what it is, we will behold his glory and fall down in worship. Think Moses in Exodus 33. Like Moses, we must ask God to show us his glory. He has done so most clearly in Jesus, and when we behold him for who he is, we will be floored with delight by what we see. Our worship will be true. Our hearts will be full.

If you are like me from time to time and have a false god that you turn to in worship, whether it is food, sex, money, power, status, or UK basketball, you have reason to worry. The object of your worship does not have enough glory to satisfy your hunger. Oh, but when you gaze into the boundless and weighty glory of God in Jesus, your eyes will see and your heart will taste Someone you will never tire of beholding and never leave wanting more.

The eyes of the heart are the window to worship. Guard your gazing.


396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church East Bernstadt. He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Let Everything That Has Breath Praise the Lord: Meditation on Psalm 150

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The Psalms have been frequently read, used, and treasured since their individual writing and corporate collection. God’s people throughout the ages have run to the Psalms for comfort, wisdom, joy, and worship. They have existed as a means of grace for the believer and a source for proper worship for the Church for centuries. Due to its placement, genre, content, and surrounding context, Psalm 150 can be understood as a psalm that can serve both of these purposes—a means of grace for the believer as well as a source of worship for the church. God is supremely glorious and therefore worthy of his people’s worship and this worship from his people should reflect his worthiness and glory.

Genre: A Unique Praise Hymn

The book of the Psalms as it appears in our English Bibles consists of 150 songs organized into five separate subsections called books. There is a great variety of types or genres of psalms that occurs within this ancient hymnbook (e.g. praise, thanksgiving, wisdom, penitential, imprecatory, and lament psalms). While all of the psalms—though some are obviously personal (e.g. Ps. 51)—call the entire congregation of Israel to worship, the praise and thanksgiving psalms most strikingly above the rest call for all of Israel to praise the LORD. The praise psalms are all similar in their proper address of the object or person of their adoration and worship (God). These psalms not only praise God, but they are specific in the motivation for their worship. Rather than repeating a Hallelujah chorus, the praise psalms of Israel state the reason for their praise.

Psalm 150 is such a praise psalm, however it is noticeably unique. While this psalm does include an address to the one who is being praised (YHWH, v. 1), there are no “actual clauses to give content to the praise of Yahweh.”[1] However, there are two expressions that indicate to the reader why the LORD is worthy of worship (v. 2). Willem Van Gemeren observes this very thing in his commentary.[2] This psalm is a very unique praise psalm in this regard and the author gives us little more than an elevated and beautiful exhortation to praise the LORD.[3] It seems to be in a category by itself.

Proper Placement

This makes sense due to the placement of this psalm. Psalm 150 is the closing bookend of the Psalter. This placement was not by accident. Just as the first entry in the Psalter is positioned with a purpose, so is the last. While the Psalter begins with a wisdom psalm pleading with Israel to be obedient to the law of God, the Psalter ends with a joyful and exclamatory, almost climactic psalm of praise imploring the congregation to worship. This indicates that “obedience is not the goal of Torah-keeping.”[4] Rather, praise and worship of and ultimate satisfaction and joy in the LORD God is the end to which the Psalter and the entire Old Testament is pointing. In this light, obedience to a God in whom we find joy will be viewed as much as a delight as it is a duty.

The placement of this psalm also serves as a summation of the praise due God. Throughout the Psalter, everything in all of creation has been called to give the Creator sacrifices of worship. Therefore, this final song to close out Israel’s hymnbook is not a farewell to praising the Lord. On the contrary, the psalm itself functions as a source of praise and “everything that the previous 149 psalms have affirmed about Yhwh offers the reasons and the content for this praise.”[5] There is no question left to ask. It is the LORD, the creator of heaven and earth, the One who performs mighty deeds and who is excellently great (v. 2), that is ultimately worthy of worship.

Content of Praise

The content of Psalm 150 itself gives the most evidence for why the author sought to show his readers the worthiness of God and the response his people should give.

The phrases “praise the LORD,” “praise God” and “praise him” occur thirteen times in six verses. This is no coincidence. The author did not just run out of exhortations and resorted to repeating the only one he knew or perhaps his favorite. This psalm functions as a chiasmus beginning with the exhortation to praise God in heaven (v. 1, A) and ending with the exhortation to praise God on earth (v. 6, A’). In the middle of these places of worship occur the reasons (v. 2, B) and means of worship (vv. 3-5, B’). The center of this chiasmus is the worthiness of God coupled with the delight and intensity with which his people should worship him. In heaven and on earth, God is to be praised both for what he does and for who he is. God’s abundant power and greatness call for a “symphonic hymn of praise”[6] from those in heaven and earth. Everyone is to exult in the greatness of YHWH!

God’s worthiness should be evident in the manner in which the congregation worships their Maker and Master. God’s supreme greatness and power flows over into the souls of those whom he has redeemed (Israel in the immediate context). The response is delightful and intense worship. Just as the repetition of “praise the LORD” phrases indicates God’s supreme worthiness, the repetition of the instruments used to worship God indicates the great delight and devotion his people are to give him. John Calvin comments, “this multiplicity of songs was enjoined that God might lead his people from vain pleasure to a holy and profitable joy.”[7]

God’s greatness therefore not only attests to his glory, but also to his people’s joy. Sacrificial worship to God is a means for holy worship and holy joy. God is glorified and his people are satisfied in praising the LORD. Due to our sin, the psalmist calls us to praise the LORD in order to find a satisfying and lasting joy.[8] Every means of worship is called forth from heaven and earth to magnify the glory of YHWH.[9] In the words of Calvin, “we cannot apply ourselves too diligently to God’s praise.”[10] Though terms of adoration or satisfaction are not explicitly used by the psalmist, the author makes his point clear through the emphasis on a multiplicity of instruments of melodious sound that devotion and delight in God from the congregation are what is desired.

It therefore seems clear from the genre, placement, and content of Psalm 150, that the psalmist intends his readers to understand the magnitude of God’s worthiness of praise and the delightful duty of the worshiper to diligently praise God by showing that the end of living under God’s grace under the Law was joyful praise of God. Exaltation of God’s glory and the joy of man meet in this closing hymn of the Psalter. The final expectation of the Old Testament is therefore “not finally obedience, but adoration.”[11]

Implications

There are many implications that flow from this meaning and interpretation of Psalm 150 that are vital to both the Christian as an individual and the corporate body of Christ as a whole.

Firstly, Christians must view our obedience to God with lenses of delight. Our obedience to God should not be viewed as a begrudging duty given to a distant King. No, our devotion to this sovereign King, who resides in utter omnipotence that we cannot take in,[12] should be delightful, joyful, and satisfying. When we realize that our joy will be found in glorifying the greatness and power of YHWH, our obedience to him and praise of him will be exceedingly intense in love and adoration. Our worship to God on Sunday morning should not be dull, boring, or unenthusiastic. Rather, our offerings of worship should be joyful and exciting responses of adoration of the LORD for who he is and what he has done. And this has nothing to do with musical style.

Secondly, the Church must be diligent in gospel proclamation among all peoples. There is no distinction given by the Psalmist: “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD” (v. 6)! John Calvin asserts this in his commentary:

“The Psalmist implies that the day will come when the songs of Zion will resound throughout the world, uniting Gentile believers in harmony with his ancient people, until, gathered into heaven, we sing with elect angels an eternal Hallelujah.[13]

We must proclaim the gospel to all without exception, because God will extend his saving grace to a remnant from all peoples (not every person without exception) who will be satisfied in glorifying the LORD God (Rev. 7:9).

Thirdly, our modern-day worship services must continue and forever be God-centered. Praise and worship among the people of God must always be focused on and directed to Yahweh. This should impact our choice of worship hymns and contemporary songs to sing. They should be rooted in the Word of God that outlines the “mighty deeds” of God as well as his “excellent greatness” (v. 2). Any hymns or worship songs focused on our circumstances or ourselves have no place in congregational worship of God. God-centeredness in worship services is vital to proper praise of the LORD.


 

[1] John Goldingay. Psalms 90-150, in vol. 3 of Psalms in Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, ed. Tremper Longman III (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 747.

[2] “In contrast to other hymns, Psalm 150 is an enlarged introit, lacking the descriptive praise” Willem Van Gemeren, Psalms, in vol. 5 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein et al., (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 878

[3] John Goldingay. Psalms 90-150, in vol. 3 of Psalms in Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, ed. Tremper Longman III (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 746

[4] Walter Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984), 167

[5] John Goldingay. Psalms 90-150, in vol. 3 of Psalms in Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, ed. Tremper Longman III (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 747

[6] Arthur Weiser. The Psalms: A Commentary. OTL. London: SCM, 1959. p. 841 as cited in Willem Van Gemeren, Psalms, in vol. 5 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein and Richard P. Polcyn (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 879

[7] John Calvin. Commentary on the Psalms, Abr. ed. David C. Seale (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), 659

[8] Ibid. 659

[9] John Goldingay. Psalms 90-150, in vol. 3 of Psalms in Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, ed. Tremper Longman III (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 748

[10] John Calvin. Commentary on the Psalms, Abr. ed. David C. Seale (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), 659

[11] Walter Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984), 167

[12] John Calvin. Commentary on the Psalms, Abr. ed. David C. Seale (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), 659

[13] Ibid. 659


396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies, Dec. ’14). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Morning Mashup 08/06

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Might as Well Call Jesus the ‘Daughter of God’ – Jared Wilson: “The progressive evangeliwhatchamacalits seem to think they can mess with the revelation of the nature of our relational God without messing with the revelation of the nature of his Son.”

Caring for the Anxious Pastor-in-Waiting – Dave Harvey gives poignant and comforting counsel to men who have surrendered to the ministry, but are waiting for ministry opportunities. This article eased my own soul.

8 Ways the Enemy Attacks Churches – Chuck Lawless: “I have studied spiritual warfare for more than twenty years. During most of that time, I’ve also worked as a church consultant. I’ve learned these two worlds often collide: churches fail to recognize the schemes of a real enemy, and they have no plan to respond. Here are some of the primary ways I’ve seen the enemy attack churches:”

Iraq’s Christians Need Our Help – Clearly, Iraqi Christians need help. Here are ways they need it most.

Christian Family of Eight Murdered Next to Open Bible in Iraq – They would not convert, so they were killed next to their open Bible. Come, Lord Jesus.

Cultural Disintegration and the Revival of a Moral Imagination – Joe Rigney: “[W]e must always endeavor to winsomely wage culture war, to fight as those whose feet are firmly planted on a Rock that is unshaken by Gallup polls, HHS mandates, or Supreme Court decisions.”

Cultural Engagement – Russell Moore: “Knowing Andy Griffith episodes or Coldplay lyrics might be important avenues for talking about kingdom matters, but let’s not kid ourselves. We connect with sinners in the same way Christians always have: by telling an awfully freakish-sounding story about a man who was dead, and isn’t anymore, but whom we’ll all meet face-to-face in judgment.”

Can One Believe in Jesus But Not Believe in Adam? – Contrary to the theological liberal trend and the growing number of so-called conservative theologians, the answer is still “No.” Check out pastor Andrew Dyer’s brief thoughts on the vitality of a historical Adam.

6 Tips for Small Group Discussion – Matt Capps: “Leading a meaningful conversation that engages the hearts and minds of people takes practice. But healthy discussion can be the difference between people going to a group and growing through a group. A life-changing discussion has the following characteristics.”

What Gathered Worship Should Look Like – Ligon Duncan: “Worship is not evangelism, but our worship services should always have the free offer of the Gospel in mind, and if we are God-centered and Bible-directed we will be evangelistic.”

The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see. –Winston Churchill