Worshipping the Lord: Learning From The Psalms
God’s love for us inspires our loyalty to Him: ‘Your love is ever before me, and I will walk continually in Your truth’(Psalm 26:3). Loyalty to the Lord involves worshipping Him and walking with Him (Psalm 26:11-12). Walking with God is not easy. There are ‘enemies round about’ us (Psalm 26:4-5, 9-10; Psalm 27:2-3,6,11-12). What are we to do? We are to worship God: ‘One thing have I asked of the Lord…that I may dwell in the House of the Lord…’(Psalm 27:4). What are we doing when we gather in the Lord’s House for worship? This is what we are doing - ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage’(Psalm 27:14). Where does our strength come from? It comes from God: ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation… The Lord is the stronghold of my life’. Strong in Him, we say, ‘My heart will not fear… I will be confident’(Psalm 27:1,3).
‘I will exalt You, O Lord’(Psalm 30:1). God is not exalted because we exalt Him. We exalt Him because He is exalted: ‘He is exalted, for ever exalted, and I will praise His Name’(Mission Praise,217). How do we come to the point where we say, ‘I will exalt You, O Lord’? We realize our need of Him - ‘when You hid Your face, I was dismayed’(Psalm 30:7). We look to Him for mercy - ‘To You, O Lord, I called; to the Lord, I cried for mercy’(Psalm 30:8). God hears and answers our prayer - ‘You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy’(Psalm 30:11). God calls us to worship Him - ‘Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy Name’(Psalm 30:4). ‘The joy of the Lord’, His ‘unutterable and exalted joy’, gives us ‘strength’(Nehemiah 8:10; 1 Peter 1:8). We worship God: ‘O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever’(Psalm 30:12).
Looking to the Lord, we are ‘radiant’ He has ‘delivered’ us. He has ‘saved’ us (Psalm 34:4-6). Rejoicing in God’s salvation, we say, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times’(Psalm 34:1). We call upon others to worship the Lord with us - ‘O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!’(Psalm 34:3). We invite them to trust in the Lord and come to know the joy of His salvation - ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!’(Psalm 34:8). We encourage them to keep on hearing the Word of the Lord so that they may learn to walk with God - ‘Come, O sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord’(Psalm 34:11). We seek to lead people on to spiritual maturity. We say to them, ‘Depart from evil, and do good’, praying that they will become ‘mature’, ‘trained by practice to know the difference between good and evil’(Psalm 34:14; Hebrews 5:14).
Those who ‘trust in the Lord...will dwell in the land’. Those who turn from Him will ‘perish’(Psalm 37:3,20). Through faith in Christ, we look ahead to ‘a heavenly country’, ‘better’ than anything we will know on earth (Hebrews 11:16; Philippians 3:20). We have caught sight of ‘a happy land, far, far away, where saints in glory stand, bright, bright as day’. We have heard the sound of their song - ‘O how they sweetly sing, “Worthy is our Saviour King!”’ We lift our voices to the Lord - ‘Loud let His praises ring, praise, praise for aye’. Still, some are perishing. They have not come to Christ for salvation. To them, we say, ‘Come to this happy land, come, come away; Why will ye doubting stand? Why, still delay?’(Revised Church Hymnary, 587). Trust in the Lord now and look forward to being with Him in heaven.
Three times, the question is asked, ‘Why are you downcast, O my soul’. Three times, the answer is given, ‘Put your hope in God’. Three times, there is the response of faith: ‘I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God (Psalm 42:5,11; Psalm 43:5). Often, we are filled with questions. We must bring our questions to God. We must learn to listen for His answers. The Lord is speaking to us. Are we listening? God speaks to us through His Word. Are we taking time to read His Word? He wants us to come to Him with the prayer, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening’(1 Samuel 3:8-10). Listen to the Word of the Lord. Let His Word be your Guide: ‘Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me...’(Psalm 43:5). ‘Deep calls to deep’(Psalm 42:7) - Let ‘the Spirit’ show you ‘the deep things of God’(1 Corinthians 2:10).
'Be still, and know that I am God...Shout to God with loud songs of joy'(Psalm 46:10; Psalm 47:2). In our worship, there is to be both quiet trust and loud praise. We read the great words: ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’(Psalm 46:1). God’s Word brings peace - ‘in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength’. We must not keep God’s blessing to ourselves. We must share it with joy - ‘Sing to the Lord...let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare His praise in the coastlands’(Isaiah 30:15; Isaiah 42:10-12). The Lord is to be ‘exalted among the nations’. He is not only ‘our King’. He is ‘the King of all the earth’(Psalm 10; Psalm 47:6-7). ‘Father (Jesus/Spirit), we love You. We worship and adore You. Glorify Your Name in all the earth’(Mission Praise, 142).
‘Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised’(Psalm 48:1). We worship God in the place of worship - ‘Within Your
‘Create in me a clean heart, O God... Cast me not away from Thy presence... Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation’(Psalm 51:10-12). These words come to us from the ancient past. They were first spoken many centuries ago. They can be the words which change your future. You can make them your words. David made a new beginning with God. You can make a new beginning with God. You have sinned. You need to be forgiven. Come to Christ. He says, ‘I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me’(John 6:37). You need to be ‘born again’. Receive Christ as your Saviour and be ‘born again’- ‘born of God’(John 3:3,7; 1:12). You feel so weak, unable to be the person God wants you to be. Let ‘the joy of the Lord be your strength’(Nehemiah 8:10). Let His love reach you. Let His power make you a new person.
‘Come and see what God has done’(Psalm 66:5). God invites us to look into His Word, to read His Story, the Story of all that He has done for us. ‘Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He has done for me’(Psalm 66:16). God invites us to listen to the preaching of His Word, to let His Story become our story, to let His salvation become real in our lives. We read God’s Word. We hear His Word. This is our journey of discovery. We discover what the Lord has done for us. We discover how much He wants to bless us. He waits to hear our prayer - ‘May God be gracious to us and bless us...’. He answers our prayer - ‘God has blessed us’(Psalm 67:1,6-7). He wants us to ‘be glad and sing for joy’. He wants us to call ‘all the ends of the earth’ to ‘worship Him’(Psalm 67:4,7).
God is ‘our salvation’. He is the ‘God of salvation’(Psalm 68:19-20). God’s salvation covers our past, present and future. (a) You have been saved. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we have received the forgiveness of our sins (Romans 5:1). (b) You are being saved. God is at work in our lives, making us the kind of people He wants us to be (Romans 5:3-5). (c) You will be saved. We look forward to ‘sharing the glory of God’, being with the Lord forever (Romans 5:2,9-10). From beginning to end, salvation is the work of God – He has forgiven our sins. He is making us like Christ. He will lead us on to heaven. Our God is great. His salvation is great. Let us ‘be joyful’. Let us worship the Lord ‘with joy’(Psalm 68:3). Let us give all the glory to God - ‘Blessed be God!’(Psalm 68:35).
‘Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations... From everlasting to everlasting, You are God’(Psalm 90:1-2). The Bible begins with the words, ‘In the beginning, God...’. Before the world began, there was God - ‘the eternal God’. He is ‘the high and exalted One’. He is the God ‘who inhabits eternity’. He is the God ‘who lives for ever’. He has no beginning. He has no end. He is ‘the beginning and the end’. Our life on earth has a beginning. It has an end. Trusting in ‘the eternal God’, we rejoice in His precious promises - ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’; ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’; ‘The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’(Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 33:27; Isaiah 57:15; Revelation 21:6; Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 6:23).
‘Surely He will save you from the traps of the hunter’(Psalm 91:3). God has given us His warning. We must ‘be alert’- ‘Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’. He also gives us His promise - ‘Resist the devil, and he will flee from you’. How are we to resist the devil? - We are to ‘resist him, standing firm in the faith’(1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7). We must not try to resist the devil in our own strength. We will be defeated. He is much more powerful than we are. We must resist him in the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, we have the victory - ‘Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’(1 Corinthians 15:57). Satan is out to get us. He’s trying to trap us. Let’s never forget this: Jesus is able to ‘deliver us from the evil one’(Matthew 6:13).
‘The Lord is high above all nations... Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high?... Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, who turns the hard rock into springs of water’(Psalm 113:4-5; Psalm 114:7-8). The Lord is greater than we could ever imagine. There is no greatness like the greatness of the Lord. All human greatness cannot even begin to compare with the greatness of God. His greatness is not only the greatness of His power. It is also the greatness of His love. When we sing, ‘How great Thou art’, we sing not only of His power - ‘Thy power throughout the universe displayed’. We sing also of His love - ‘And when I think that God His Son not sparing, sent Him to die - I scarce can take it in, that on the Cross my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin...’(Mission Praise, 506).
‘I love the Lord... I will call on Him as long as I live’(Psalm 116:1-2). Our love for God is to be a lifelong life. It is to be the love of our life. What are we to do when our love for God grows weak? We must remember His love for us - ‘Great is His love towards us. The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever’(Psalm 117:2). When we find it difficult to keep on loving God, we must remember how much He loves us. When we feel like giving up on loving God, we must remember that He never gives up on loving us. He loves us when our love for Him is strong. He loves us when our love for Him is weak. In love, He reaches out to us. He brings us out of our weakness and into His strength. Let His strong love reach you in your weakness and give you His strength: ‘Loving Him who first loved me’(Church Hymnary, 450).
Throughout life, we have to make choices. Some choices are relatively straightforward. Others are very much more difficult. Some choices don’t affect the rest of our life very much. There are, however, choices which affect the whole of our life. There is one choice which is more important than any other - Choosing the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour. Those who refuse to choose are ‘double-minded’(Psalm 119:113). They can’t make up their mind. They know that they should be following Christ - but they are still ‘in love with the world’. They are ‘lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God’ (I John 2:15; 2 Timothy 3:4). Make your choice. Say to the world, ‘Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God’. Say to God, ‘I have decided to obey Your laws until the day I die’ (Psalm 119:115,112).
We are not to pray to God with superficial words that don’t mean very much to us. Our prayer is to be a real cry from the heart: ‘Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord’ (Psalm 130:1). We are to ‘cry for mercy’ with a deep awareness of how sinful we really are: ‘If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?’ (Psalm 130:3). We must come to God with deep humility - ‘My heart is not proud, O Lord’ (Psalm 131:1). When we truly confess our sin, we receive God’s ‘unfailing love’ and ‘forgiveness’ (Psalm 130:4). ‘In the Lord’ we have ‘full redemption’ (Psalm 130:7). It is for ‘now’ - ‘The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives’. It is ‘for evermore’ - ‘But purer and higher and greater will be our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see!’. ‘Praise the Lord!... Give Him the glory!’ (Psalm 131:3; Church Hymnary, 374).
Through Christ our Saviour, we are led ‘in the way everlasting’: ‘God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son’ (Psalm 139:24; 1 John 5:11). God’s great purpose of eternal salvation seems ‘too wonderful’ - ‘too good to be true’! ‘It isa thing most wonderful, almost too wonderful to be, that God’s own Son should come from heaven and die to save a child like me, and yet I know that it is true...’ (Psalm 139:6; Church Hymnary, 385). God has a glorious future planned for us. We can hardly even begin to take it in: ‘Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain’. We know that ‘no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ yet we rejoice in this: ‘God has revealed it to us by His Spirit’ (Psalm 139:6; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10). ‘Lead me in the way everlasting!’(Psalm 139:24).
The Psalmist continues to emphasize the importance of ‘prayer’ in our battle against ‘evildoers’: ‘My prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers’ (Psalm 141:5). We pray that their ‘wicked deeds’ will not succeed. We pray that they will see ‘the error of their way’, returning to the Lord and being ‘led in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake’ (Psalm 141:5; Psalm 23:3; James 5:19-20). We may feel that our ‘persecutors’ are ‘too strong’ for us. We must never think that ‘no one cares’. We must bring our fear to God, praying, ‘Set me free from my prison, that I may praise Your Name’. Faced with powerful enemies, we must remember this: The Lord is our ‘portion in the land of the living’. In the face of fierce opposition, we must learn to say, ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord for ever’ (Psalm 142:4-7; Psalm 23:6).
The Psalmist prays, ‘Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord’ (Psalm 143:9). He is not concerned only about his own welfare. He is concerned about the glory of God: ‘For Your Name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life’ (Psalm 143:11). How does God lead us in victory? How is He glorified in our lives? He brings to us the teaching of His Word - ‘Let the morning bring me Word of Your unfailing love’ (Psalm 143:8). He gives to us the strength of His Spirit - ‘May Your good Spirit lead me in good paths’ (Psalm 143:10). Through His Word and Spirit, God shows us His ‘unfailing love’. He enables us to say, ‘You are my God’, ‘I have put my trust in You’ and ‘I am Your servant’. He ‘shows us the way we should go’. He ‘teaches us to do His will’. He gives us victory over our ‘enemies’ (Psalm 143:8,10,12).
‘Praise the Lord’. Psalms 146 and 147 began and ended with these words. Now, we find the same beginning and ending in each of these three Psalms - ‘Praise the Lord’. Our personal song of praise to God - ‘Praise be to the Lord my Rock... I will sing a new song to You, O God... I will exalt You, my God the King; I will praise Your Name for ever and ever; Every day I will praise You... My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord... I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live’ (Psalm 144:1,9; Psalm 145:1-2,21; Psalm 146:2) - is just a small part of something so much richer and fuller - ‘Let everything that has breath praise the Lord’ (Psalm 150:6). May these great Psalms of praise inspire us to praise the Lord more truly and more fully.