Psalms - Teachers Comments

2024 Quarter 1 Lesson 12 - Worship That Never Ends

Teachers Comments
Mar 16 - Mar 22

Key Text: Psalm 104:33

Worship may be summarized as follows: the response of the creature to the gifts of the Creator. Two Bible truths are evident in this abstract.

First, God has given many blessings to humanity. These gifts should awaken gratitude in the human heart for the greatness of God’s love so that we may unite with the psalmist in proclaiming “with the voice of thanksgiving” all of His “wondrous works” (Ps. 26:7, NKJV). The psalmist’s ardor for blazoning to others the greatness of God reminds us that worship has an evangelical dimension. Thus, as a church, we should proclaim to the world the Lord’s deeds for every individual and His divine mercy.

Second, human beings are hardwired with an inborn predisposition to respond to God’s wonders. In response to divine grace, we should bow with a grateful heart, submitting everything in our lives to the will of our Creator and Redeemer.

Worship should come from the heart. At the same time, the book of Psalms instructs us that worship should not be conducted capriciously. There are appropriate ways to revere the Lord. Keeping a wise balance between gratitude and reverent submission will make our worship enjoyable and unifying.

Part II: Commentary

The Psalter is a book of worship and for worship. Every song and prayer is, in some way, devotion to God. Let’s consider different approaches to worship in this sacred church hymnal.

Psalm 3: Worship in the Morning and in the Evening

David wrote Psalm 3 in a time of distress. David knows that he can confide in God and that the Lord will hear him (Ps. 3:4). God’s tender regard strengthens David’s confidence daily in divine faithfulness, as Psalm 3:5 reveals. This text also evokes Psalm 55:17, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice” (NKJV). This verse teaches us that worship can be done in our heart at any moment of the day.

Also, place or location is no impediment to our worship. Psalm 4:3 states, “The Lord will hear when I call to Him” (NKJV). Immediately the psalmist adds, “Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still” (Ps. 4:4, NKJV). Whether from the privacy of the bedchamber, as in the case of the psalmist, or from the rocky isolation of Patmos, where the apostle John was exiled, our prayers ascend, unobstructed by geography or location, to God.

The Psalter is full of personal prayers, laments, and blessings (Psalm 9, Psalm 10, Psalm 30, Psalm 32, Psalm 34, Psalm 40, Psalm 41, Psalm 92, Psalm 107, Psalm 116, Psalm 138). Congregational worship begins with the commitment of every member of the church to personal devotion.

Psalm 22: Worship in the Assembly

In Psalm 22, we note that David adopts the first-person point of view (Ps. 22:22, 25). The intimacy and immediacy of this point of view reinforce the notion that congregational praise starts with the individual worshiper. David proclaims, “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You” (Ps. 22:22, NKJV). Subsequently, he adds, “My praise shall be of You in the great assembly; I will pay My vows before those who fear Him” (Ps. 22:25, NKJV). What a lesson for us as we seek to come into the presence of God in worship! Psalm 22 shows us the importance of congregational worship to our faith and vitality. Our children should be made to understand this essential truth when we take them to church. Moreover, we go to the temple in a spirit of submission, not to get a blessing so much as to give, and be, one.

While personal consecration is the basis for our congregational worship, we must equally assert that church members cannot thrive in isolation. Thus, the psalmist joins together with the body of God’s people in worship in Psalm 22:22–25. The argument that “I can worship at home; I don’t need the members of the church” dissolves in the face of this passage. Congregational worship brings unity, nurtures love among God’s people, and shapes our identity worldwide.

Worship in a Broader Sense

As noted in our first lesson, the books of the Psalter end with Psalm 145. The last five songs—Psalms 146–150—constitute a majestic conclusion to the book. Given that honoring the name of the God Almighty is the goal of our adoration, these final five melodies are devoted fittingly to His worship and praise: “Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in the assembly of saints” (Ps. 149:1, NKJV).

The verb halal (Hebrew “to praise”) is used more than 30 times in Psalms 146–150, and each usage is related to God Himself. Our reasons for praising the Lord, as given in these psalms, are manifold. The Lord is our help and hope (Ps. 146:5); He is Creator and Sustainer (Ps. 146:6; Ps. 147:4, 8, 9, 16–19); He defends and delivers the needy and the oppressed (Ps. 146:7–9; Ps. 147:2, 3); He sustains the humble and punishes the wicked (Ps. 147:6, Ps. 149:5); He provides for the needs of His people (Ps. 147:14, Ps. 149:7–9); and He reigns forever (Ps. 146:10). Psalm 148:13 summarizes the preeminent reason for our worship and praise of God: “For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven” (NKJV). The Lord is the only God there is, and He is worthy of praise because of His “excellent greatness” (Ps. 150:2, NKJV).

Our worship, both public and private, should be conducted intelligently and thoughtfully. We should take time every day, and especially every Sabbath, to recall the blessings that the Lord has poured out upon us. Recording each blessing in a journal will be of inestimable benefit to both our faith and our worship.

As we have already observed, worship is a collective experience in which the whole body of Christ participates (Ps. 147:12, 19, 20; Ps. 148:14; Ps. 149:1; Ps. 150:1). While an individual certainly can adore God alone in the privacy of his or her home, and according to his or her personal understanding of the Scriptures, the Lord intended that His adoration should take place in His sanctuary (Ps. 150:1) or other consecrated place of worship, in communal convocation among the “assembly of the saints” (Ps. 149:1, ASV). Our worship is incomplete if we regularly isolate ourselves away from one another and offer tribute to God alone.

The last songs of the Psalter invite not only God’s people to praise His name but call upon the whole world to adore the Creator and pay Him tribute. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Ps. 150:6, NKJV; compare with Ps. 148:11, 12). As we learned this week, worship has an evangelical dimension. If our worship service strives to be happy, creative, inclusive, and varied, we can, and will, reach people for the kingdom of the Lord.

In the wake of such an assessment, the following question naturally emerges and begs an inquest: How extensive and broad should our worship of God be? In Psalm 148, the psalmist exhorts not only the angels to praise God’s name (Ps. 148:2) but also the “sun and moon” and “stars of light” (Psalm 148:3, NKJV). Through the personification of these inanimate objects and heavenly bodies (Ps. 148:3, 4, 7–10), the psalmist conveys to us the idea that worship should pervade every sphere of life. In light of this Bible truth, many of us who have limited our praise and veneration of God only to the Sabbath would do well to reevaluate our concept and practice of divine adoration.

A final topic for consideration in Psalms 146 to 150 is the use of live instruments in our devotion. Seven instruments are mentioned in these final psalms: (1) harp (Ps. 147:7, Ps. 149:3, Ps. 150:3), (2) timbrel (Ps. 149:3, Ps. 150:4), (3) trumpet and (4) lute (Ps. 150:3), (5) stringed instruments and (6) flutes (Ps. 150:4), and (7) “loud . . . clashing” cymbals (Ps. 150:5). Worship requires that we bring God our best gifts, and the area of music is no exception. All the technology we have at our disposal today certainly is a blessing to our church service. At the same time, nothing can compare to live singing and music. Not only is such music more personal and immediate, it has the power to touch hearts in a unique way. Along these lines, parents would do well to encourage their children to learn to play a musical instrument and to sing. We should do all we can to facilitate the use of different kinds of instruments in our worship service. Ultimately, the focus of all the music in our worship service should be to exalt our Savior.

Part III: Life Application

Worship is an integral part of the believer’s experience, not merely an accessory to it. The book of Psalms provides motivation and inspiration for our devotional life. Thus, we should carefully and prayerfully read every psalm with an intention to deepen our communion with God. Invite your students to bow down and pray with the Bible open, using the words of the Psalms as their prayers. In this way, they will find that the Psalms boost their personal submission and devotion to the Lord.

We have considered different modes of worship during this week and the ways in which they may be a blessing in our lives and in our church. Now, in our final section, we turn to the practical application of these principles. The implementation of different modes of worship has sometimes brought divisions among us in the church. That’s a sure sign that we are moving in the wrong direction. We have learned that worship brings union and harmony among God’s people. When a spirit and intention of harmony exists in our worship service, the worshipers come away from the experience feeling blessed from it. That’s why achieving and maintaining this balance of harmony is so important. We should strive for it in every area of our worship service, as outlined in our study. In humility of spirit, let us be ready to join with our fellow church members in harmonious worship to our Creator; He expects from us as much.