Lord, I Love to Worship You
Dear friends in Christ,
There are times when circumstances just seem to make it so necessary to think about the Lord. All of you have had some special times. I can only speak for myself. At the age of fourteen I went away to school. A dormitory would be home for the next twelve years. But I remember the first night. I was lonely, not because there weren’t people around; there were too many. For this fourteen year old there were a lot of people were invading my space. There was no refrigerator to raid! There was no mom or dad or younger brother around. But I had the Lord. There were certainly other times like coming toAtlantawith the call from the Lord to start a church, something I was going to have to learn by the seat of my pants with my new bride. But the Lord was with us. There was the birth of children - two miscarriages, a son’s premature birth. There was a daughter’s car accident. Thousands of times when we because of circumstances had cause to pause and want our Heavenly Father to hold us and reassure us!
How about you? Perhaps it was a going to college or Kindergarten for the first time. Perhaps you went on that business trip to meet that client for the first time. You had to make a living. Perhaps you were facing surgery and wondered if there was more to it.
We don’t exactly know the nature of the background of David’s psalm today. Many believe that this was written during the very trying time when Absalom, David’s son, had conspired against his father to take his kingdom away. Needless to say, this caused some very anxious moments. David fled. He needed assurance from God. He needed that fellowship. “Lord, I Love to Worship You” 1) In the church; 2) In my life.
When David says, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you,” as Lutherans we are conditioned to have the hair on the back of our necks stand on end. We have been taught, and rightly so, that God seeks us, we don’t seek him. Joseph Arminius said that humans have the ability to choose whether we follow God or not. Yet, as Lutherans we believe that the Bible speaks clearly of original sin. We know that the Bible says all are “born dead in our transgression and sin.” Spiritually we are a zero. The Lord, by his Spirit, makes us alive in Christ.
But also be clear in this, once the Holy Spirit works in us and creates the new nature, the new nature seeks the Lord daily. In fact, the new nature doesn’t get enough of the Lord. David is saying this as a man of God, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is not water.” The new nature wants and needs fellowship with the Lord. The new nature loves to worship the Lord.
Worship is one of those words that is a bit hard to define and put into words. It certainly has the idea of humility in the definition. One of the common Hebrew words for worship literally means “to bow down before him.” In the Greek language one of the most common words means “to fall on the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence and awe.”
When David thought of worshipping him, he thought of the tent of meeting and the new temple that he got to plan for his son got to build. In the sanctuary we worship and get to know him better. “I have seen you in the sanctuary and behold your power and your glory.”
Why do you go to church? I am sure that might depend on circumstances at times. I know that we don’t go with the best of motives at times. I have heard adults say that it is habit that I have gotten into. I wonder how the Lord feels about worshipping him is a habit. Others say that they don’t want to feel guilty because when they didn’t go they felt guilty all day and didn’t like that feeling. I wonder how the Lord feels about people saying that worship is a way to avoid that guilty feeling. Children will often say, “I go to church because my parents make me.” Do you think that Lord is thrilled with that one too?
When I translated this passage, I got the idea from the Hebrew that we go to the sanctuary to get information about God’s strength and glory. If you want to know more about God … maybe that is better said … because we want to know more about God, we go to church. We go to church to learn more about him. That certainly happens in Sunday School and Bible class. I pray it occurs from the pulpit when the readings are read and in the liturgy we sing. My job in putting a sermon together is certainly to reveal the mysteries of God and his grace. Sermons should inspire, motivate and educate. We learn about the Lord in his sanctuary.
What do we get to know? We get to know about his power and glory. We are certainly reminded that God has characteristics that are characteristic to only him. One of those characteristics is his omnipotence. He can do anything. He can and did say, “Let there be” and there was. You never say to the Lord, “That’s impossible.” The prophet Zechariah exclaims, The Lord … stretches out the heavens, (he) lays the foundation of the earth, and … forms the spirit of man within him.” Does he have power? You bet!
There is still another way that he shows his power. Only he has the power to forgive people. Only he can open the gates of heaven. He only has the power to save. He does so through the good news of Jesus, the Gospel. Paul said he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to save. There is no other power on this earth that can take people from hell into heaven. To preach this message is the work of the church.
Not only do we get to learn about his power, we also get to learn about his glory. When I hear the word glory, I think of God’s splendor and magnificence. I think about heaven. I think of what Revelation tells me about our future home calling it, “the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.” I think of gold walls and shiny marble floors. I think of the beauty of the royal blue because I like royal blue. It is ours through Christ.
In church we learn about his love. “Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you,” says David. Lots of things in life can make us very happy. Judy and I just spent time with our children and their children. Judy and I have certainly been blessed. But life has its ups and downs too. We also had to say good bye to them too. Some of the ups and downs are bigger than others. Our children were going back to Myrtle Beach and got caught in the back up when that megabus burst into flames this week. Their trip turned into a twelve hour nightmare instead of half that. Yet what about the eighty people on the bus. Yet there were no injuries. Often there are fatalities. Often we hear people say that if you have your health you have everything. Health is important but it isn’t everything. God’s love is. God’s love is forever. Nothing else is forever but God’s love is forever.
That’s love is what we get to hear about every time we worship. I have a job that I think every person ought to envy – to teach and apply God’s eternal love in every worship service I lead and every Bible class that I teach, in every sermon I preach. If I didn’t do that, shame on me! If you didn’t hear it, shame on you. It’s God’s love that comforts us when other relationships fail; it’s God’s committed love that gets us through the bad times because his love never fails.
But worship of our God goes way beyond a couple of hours on one day in a week. Paul said it like this, “In view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”
We worship and praise him as long as we live, wherever we live. If it is true that David wrote this song running from his own rebellious son in the deserts of southern Judah, he is giving us a marvelous example. “I will praise you as long as I live and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied with the richest of foods: with singing my lips mouth will praise you.” I will praise you as long as I live. No matter what! Because our dear God never stops being our God! Don’t allow the worship of him ever stop either.
Do you ever think about that passage that says, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God?” There is never a time we live that we can’t be worshipping the Lord. Years ago when my younger brother and I were in college, we worked together inGlacierPark. My brother was a rather renowned but amateur mountain climber. He took me on a climb. It was horrible and spectacular at the same time. I got altitude sickness and when we climbed through fields of loose rock there where two steps forward and one and a half back. Finally when we got close to the top ofMountHenry, he wanted me to go first. Sweating as I was, I was ready to leap in the air and yell out that I made it! He pulled me down and told me that I needed to stay close to the ground since the wind is very strong on the top and could cause me to lose my balance and literally throw me down the mountain. Remember the concept of worship – humility and staying grounded. Our worship lives need to be like that too. Recognize his greatness and be humble next to him.
That goes on 24/7. When you read the psalms that David wrote, I am sure that doctors would have diagnosed him as an insomniac. He speaks often about awaking in the middle of the night. One sleepless night, he walked to the roof of his palace and saw things that stirred his sinful nature over Bathsheba. Here, however, he describes a better way to endure a sleepless night. “On my bed I remember you, I think of you through the watches of the night.” He thought about the Lord God and his need for the Lord.
One time I talked to a fellow pastor about how I often awake during the night. He said something that I will never forget. He said, “Perhaps the Lord is waking you up and wants you to pray.” I never forgot that. David ruled a nation. David had lots of responsibility. He had it right. “On my bed I remember you, I think of you through the watches of the night.”
What keeps you up at night? For that part, what’s on your mind during the day? Do you worry? David says, “Because you are my help I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” There are a lot of documentaries they film the interaction between animals. Some of it is violent. One animal wants to use the other animal as dinner. I saw a documentary which pictured a goose and her offspring being hunted by a wolf. How protective the mother is for her offspring. She hides them in the shadow of her wings. People like David observed that three thousand years ago. We experience how our God hides us and protects us in the shadow of his wing.
It is something we take so much for granted. Did you ever think about it? Probably not because nothing really happened to us. Why? Because the Lord was making sure that nothing would happen. We drive our cars; we walk the streets, we do our errands. All the while the Lord protected us under the shadow of his wings.
Then there is the spiritual realm! A realm that we can’t even see! Satan and his army going against the army of our God! All the while we were watching the Olympics, doing our work or even surfing the net as if nothing is going on around us. We can do so because the Lord hides us the Lord hides us under the shadow of his wing.
So we humbly worship the Lord! We do so in his house; we do so in our lives!