“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever! Cry out, “Save us, O God our Saviour; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, that we may glory in your praise. Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.”
1 Chronicles 16:34-36
There is a plethora of information about worship out there. What is worship? Who can worship? How do we worship? Why do we worship? But the articles/blogs/podcasts/books, while they are helpful, are written by man, drawing us away from the ready-made manual that God has already given us with everything we need for a godly life, including worship (2 Peter 1:3). In order to worship in spirit and truth, we need to first know the real truth – which only comes from God’s Word.
I have found no better revelation regarding worship other than in the Old Testament, particularly the above passage. 1 Chronicles 16 sets the stage for a heavy, expectant atmosphere. All of Israel had hurried together as one nation, to witness the ark of the Lord finally being placed into a tabernacle that King David had built. Every person in the crowd received from David a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins – in economical terms, this was close to a week’s worth of wages, handed to them in one day for the purposes of celebration. You can imagine the excitement and reverence with which the people were gathering!
And then, the chorus begins – and the people follow in worship!
I think verses 34-36 capture the true mode of worship perfectly. Here’s why:
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!”
Worship has been, and always should be, God-centered. Worship is not for us. It is for God! (Romans 11:36). Worship should exude out of our hearts as a desire to acknowledge and praise the perfect, holy character of God. We do this by meditating on and adoring His justice, mercy, grace, provision, wisdom, benevolence, power and more. If we can truly say with the Psalmist, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” (Psalm 103:1), then are we wholly worshipping the only One who is truly worthy of praise.
“For His mercy endures forever.”
Have you ever been so overwhelmed by someone’s kindness, that you couldn’t thank them enough? Has someone ever amazed you, made you proud of them, or inspired you – so much so, that you couldn’t help but express that in thanks or compliments? That comes from a desire to worship. The more we revel in who God is and what He’s done through reading and hearing holy Scripture, the more we learn about Him – and the more we know of Him, the more we can worship about. Our lips should be constantly dripping with praise, and not just on Sunday mornings: ” I will praise the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.” (Psalm 34:1). This is proper for us, God’s holy people.
“Cry out, “Save us, O God our Saviour; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we might give thanks to your holy name,”
In the John MacArthur Study Bible, the note under Psalm 106:47 (which contains a similar passage to the one above) reads, “the psalmist pleads, on behalf of the nation and in light of the Abrahamic Covenant, for the nation to be regathered in Israel. He remembers what the men of Moses’ day forgot, i.e., God as their Saviour. Even though the tribes of Judah and Benjamin returned to Israel in Ezra and Nehemiah, this text looks ahead to the regathering of Israel at the time when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to rule over the promised Davidic millennial kingdom on earth”. So we also, then, when we worship must look ahead to the coming of Christ, eagerly awaiting His return, to be gathered together into the Kingdom.
“that we may glory in your praise. Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.”
Lastly, our worship should leave us with a sense of awe of God in His vastness. Our finite minds cannot fully comprehend the wonder of the Lord, His eternity and majesty, but O, we should try nonetheless! This should so decrease us and magnify Him in our hearts, causing our mouths to cry out in acknowledgement and praise. Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!
If you struggle to find words or affections to worship, why not let Scripture guide you? Here are some helpful passages: 1 Samuel 1, 1 Chronicles 16, Psalm 86, Psalm 91, Psalm 145, Psalm 146, Isaiah 25. For more study, I highly recommend this sermon by Pastor John MacArthur: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/90-354/The-Kind-of-Worship-God-Desires-Part-1