It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy. (Psalm 92:1-4, ESV)
I don’t know about you, but I’m weary of the worship wars that have wreaked havoc in so many churches. It’s sad to look back over the past twenty-five years or so at the damage and division that have resulted from this internecine conflict. Should we use traditional hymns or contemporary songs? Which do you prefer, a robed choir or praise team? Baldwin piano or acoustical guitar? Liberty or liturgy? Standing or sitting? Formal or free? Long or short? Hands raised or at your side? Solemnity or celebration?
As much as I may wish otherwise, I suspect the battle will continue. No, I don’t have a solution for a cease-fire or a remedy that will make everyone happy. But perhaps a start would be for us to return to the biblical text to determine, not what makes us feel comfortable, but what it is in worship that pleases God.
As I was reading through Psalms 92-98 I couldn’t help but notice the exhortations and counsel concerning how and why and to what end we are to worship. So, without further ado, look with me at ten truths or principles that we need to keep in mind when we worship and as we try to draw the near the throne of grace in a way that will honor and exalt the name of Jesus.
(1) Worship that pleases God is perpetual and constant. It is always and ever appropriate. The psalmist resolves “to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night” (Ps. 92:2). We should never think of worship as something reserved for a Sunday morning, as if there were any hour of any day where it wasn’t the thing to do.
(2) Worship that pleases God is instrumental. The psalmists speak of “the music of the lute and the harp” as well as “the melody of the lyre” (Ps. 92:3) and “trumpets and the sound of the horn” (98:5-6). This isn’t to say that singing a cappella is forbidden or unacceptable to God (far from it), but our Lord does appear to enjoy the loud and harmonious sounds that come from all sorts of instruments. Psalm 150 speaks of “trumpet sound” and “lute and harp” and “tambourine” and “strings and pipe” and “sounding cymbals” and even “loud clashing cymbals” (vv. 3-5).
(3) Clearly God delights in joyful worship (92:4; 98:4). “For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your works; at the works of your hands I sing for joy” (Ps. 92:4). Again, we are to “make a joyful noise to the Lord” and “break forth into joyous song” (Ps. 98:4).
So, I guess there are good grounds for the hymn writer having penned the words, “Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee” rather than “Grumpy, grumpy, we adore thee” or “Somber, somber, we adore Thee”!
To read the other 7 truths about worship from Psalm 92-98, click this link to go to Enjoying God Ministries, Sam Storms, “Meditations on the Psalms”