Grasping the Meaning of Worship: Psalm Wednesday

One of the most difficult concepts for many people to grasp is what it means to worship. Worship is defined as a demonstration of reverence and adoration, mostly for a deity, that pays homage and honor for past, present, and future expressions of love and help to the worshipers. During times of worship, the deity is acknowledged and its actions on behalf of the worshipers are made known, along with praise and thanksgiving for what the deity has done, is doing, and will do.

The psalm for this week, Psalm 100, in only five verses, schools us in how to truly worship the Lord our God. The author is anonymous, although in one commentary, the author credits it to David. The psalm is a call to Israel and people of other lands to acknowledge the reality of the God of Israel as the only true deity and to confirm God’s ownership of every living person and thing.

Worship allows us to publicly declare with joyfulness and thanksgiving the power that rules in our lives, acknowledging what God means to each one of us, for He means something different to everyone, due to the variety of experiences that we have had with God. Yes, individuals can worship God by themselves, but, this psalm was written at the time when corporate worship as a community was expected and encouraged, both each week and during required festivals.

So, the admonitions and elements of corporate worship are given to teach how to worship, who to worship, and why we worship. It is still relevant today, for as we seek to glorify and honor God in our lives, we must also grasp a full understanding of these very aspects, if we are to worship sincerely and effectively.

Psalm 100: 1-2 Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.!   

The psalmist calls for a loud shout to the Lord from a joyful and glad heart. He calls for noise in corporate worship, meaning each person opening their hearts and mouths in singing wholeheartedly and emotionally as they acknowledge God. Worship is a form of service to the Lord, meaning an intentional and purposeful action performed to accomplish God’s work in the world.

Worship recognizes that God is present among His people. As believers imbued with the Holy Spirit, meaning that the Holy Spirit dwells in us, the presence of God is in us.  As I read this psalm, I was reminded of the words of Ephesians 5:4-6, “For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.”

So, as we come together in assembly, God is in the midst. Matthew 18:20 states, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” There is a song that we sing at church sometimes entitled, The Jesus in Me Loves the Jesus in You, that captures this sentiment very well. So, we come together and sing loudly and proudly to the Jesus our Lord, whom we learn in John 1 was with God and was God.

Psalm 100: 3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Who to worship? We worship God, and Him alone, in all of His three manifestations, meaning God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit. We declare that it is He holds dominion and rule over our lives. He knows us better than anyone, for He knew us before we were even born. Jeremiah 1:5 states, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

We worship God as the Good Shepherd, meaning that we worship Him who has dominion and rule over our lives, for Jeremiah 32:38 states, “They will be my people, and I will be their God.” It is the God who created all things whom we have chosen to honor and exalt in worship. Like sheep, we follow His leading, knowing His voice, and completing the work that He has given to us.

In John 10: 27-30, Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”  So, we  worship the God the Father, God the Son, meaning Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 6:24 reminds us that we can serve only one master, for  it states, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” So, we worship Him whom we love and serve, the God of Heaven.

Psalm 100:4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

How to worship? The psalmist told the people to enter the presence of God with thanksgiving and praise. Before Jesus died on The Cross at Calvary, only the high priests could go into the presence of God in the Holy of Holies, and that occurred only once a year. There were rituals that had to be observed to prevent the priests from dying for looking directly at God, and there was a barrier, a veil, between God and His people.

But when Jesus died, the veil was rent in two, and there was no longer a barrier between God and His people, resulting in people being able to enter into the presence of God without fear of death. Instead of the high priests atoning for his and their sins, people could ask for the forgiveness of their sins without the need for the killing and sacrificing of animals, for the Lamb of God had made the ultimate sacrifice by shedding His blood at Calvary.

Now, we enter into His presence when we worship Him, giving Him praise and declaring our thanks for all that He has done, is doing, and will do. We bless his name, acknowledging our reverence and adoration for Him. With shouts of joy, we honor His wondrous gifts of unfailing love, compassion, care, provision, and protection.

Our thanks should be specific, for when we thank our earthly friends, we include that for which we are thankful. We must do no less for God, letting Him know exactly what it is among His riches in glory and his new and tender mercies that come every morning that we are most thankful to receive.

Psalm 100:5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.

Why we worship? The psalmist said that we worship because God is good. The psalmist doesn’t say that God does good; instead, he says that God is good. This means that goodness defines God and describes His overall character. In contrast, Satan is bad, and there are no redeeming qualities about him. God is good because He is merciful, full of truth, and faithful across generations and time.

All of these characteristics of God’s goodness can be summarized in one word: LOVE. God is love. The ultimate example of His goodness is found in that wonderful scripture that every child should know, John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

We worship God to acknowledge His great love for you and me. We worship him to thank Him for being merciful and not punishing us as we deserve for our sins. We worship him for His truthfulness, for all of His promises are true. And we worship God because of His faithfulness to past generations, to us, and to generations to come.

In Jeremiah 32:39-40, God promised, “And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.

We should not come to our churches or other religious institutions hoping to network, find potential mates, to be seen or admired, or because it is expected among our families and friends. No, we come to worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We acknowledge our Lord in the sanctuary, singing praises to His goodness to us in the land of the living, and acknowledging that He is our all and all.

We publicly declare that everything we are and all that we have accomplished is due only to Him. We declare that He is the reason we live, breathe, and have our being, and worship is a moment to stop and let Him know that we are grateful for all He does for us. It is time spent forgetting about the world and concentrating on God alone.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I give you honor, praise, thanks, and dominion over my life. I can do nothing without you, but with you, I can do all things. I acknowledge that You are Lord, and that there is no one and nothing like you in all the universe. All other things that people worship are useless, for they cannot give us the peace and love that You shower on us each day. Oh, Lord, your faithfulness astounds me and Your promises have always been proven true in my life. Thank you so much for new mercies every day. In Jesus’s Name, I pray. Amen.

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