When it comes to worship, reading the Bible—especially the Psalms—is like watching a highlight reel of Michael Jordan playing basketball or Serena Williams playing tennis. You’re seeing the best of the best at the top of their game.
If you want a glimpse of what worship can be—if you want to learn how to unleash its power in your life—here are four places to start your search.
A little context: David wrote these words of worship in response to one of the most joyous events recorded in the Old Testament, the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. As the king of Israel, David was overjoyed that the symbol of God’s presence among His people would reside in Israel’s capital city.
“Sing to the Lord; declare His glory among the nations,” David instructed. This was more than an event to be celebrated; it was a development to be broadcast to all the people of the earth. As far as David was concerned, worship was the only logical response to God’s blessings.
Two things of note here: First, when it comes to worship, our first instinct is to focus on God’s “nice” qualities—His love, His compassion, His mercy. Yet those are only a few of His perfections—and they only begin to reveal the full extent of His nature. In this passage, the psalmist celebrates God’s holiness and justice, which cause trembling among some people.
Second, one of the deepest wells to draw from in our own worship is God’s work in the lives of Bible heroes. Here the psalmist recalls God’s intervention in the lives of Moses, Aaron and Samuel.
This is graduate-level worship—a prime example of David doing what he did best. Notice the detail and creativity he weaves into his worship. He’s not content to declare, “The Lord is powerful,” and leave it at that. He glorifies the power of God’s voice. He paints an image of the Lord’s words felling the mighty cedars of Lebanon. He pays tribute to God’s intricate work in nature.
In so doing, he expands the possibilities of worship and shows the way for anyone who would like to raise their worship to the next level. Adding creativity and personality to the way you praise and adore God creates a more meaningful worship experience.
This psalm of thanksgiving is a prime example of the corporate worship model found throughout Scripture. In it, the worship leader directs worshipers’ thoughts to specific aspects of God’s character and works.
We read the psalm as followers. It tells us to “Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” So we show thankfulness and bless God’s name for the reasons the psalmist lists.
But what if we approached worship from the psalmist’s perspective, creating our own instructions to worshipers and offering reasons that are especially meaningful to us (“Stand in awe before the Lord because of the mighty healing power of His hand”)? It can be a great way to shake up our personal worship habits.