A Time for Worship

There is a well known and frequently quoted passage in Ecclesiastes that asserts, "There is a time for everything,... a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance." It is familiar and frequently quoted because it applies to so many experiences of life. It also applies to Psalm 95. As we have been making our way through the Psalms, many of them express reasons why we or somebody else might mourn. Some psalms deal with sin, defeat, despair, or loneliness. But Psalm 95 is different. For Psalm 95, is one of the most joyful psalms in the Bible! It is indeed a Praise Song, with a very noisy expression from beginning to end. This psalm starts with a call to joyfully worship (vv.1-2), and properly so, since it says, 

God is the "Rock of our salvation."
Come; let us sing for joy to the Lord;
Let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before Him with Thanksgiving
And extol him with music and song.

Psalm 95 suggests some of the forms of worship that we can enjoy.

1. Singing. There are many kinds and styles of music. But music expresses human thought emotionally and Christianity is a religion that doesn't deny emotion. More particularly, singing expresses joy, and the Bible's 'religion' at its heart is joyful. True, there are times of sorrow for sin. There is empathy for those who are suffering or deprived. But there is also joy in our salvation and enthusiastic praise of God, who is the Source of our salvation!

2. Shouting. We should remember that there are a number of traditions that do shout their expressions or at least with a loud “Amen”.

3. Music. The unaccompanied singing is music, but not necessarily what the psalmist had in mind here, since he is of extolling God both with “music and song”. Though this psalm does not mention the instruments that might have been used to make worship music, many other psalms do, and the list includes, templates, harps, layers, tambourines, stirrings, and cymbals. We can even add further instruments such as piano, guitars, electric keyboards and drums. Indeed this psalm is making the point that it is right and natural to use every musical means to worship God.

4. Words. First we must hear God's words, so we might know Who it is we are worshiping and why. Then we can use words to express our adoration of Him! 

Psalm 96 begins:

Sing to the Lord a new song;
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise His name;
proclaim His salvation day after day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His marvelous deeds among all peoples.

We have just seen a few ways in which we can worship God.

So now in verses 3-7 there are two important reasons why we should worship him.

1. Because God is such an awesome God. We, who know him, find our hearts bursting forth in praise and adoration to Him. But until we grasp who the Lord is we are never really moved to worship Him as we ought.

For the Lord is the great God,
The great King above all Gods.
|In His hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belonging to him.
The sea is His, for he made it,
and His hands formed the dry land.

2. Because God is our own Shepherd. This becomes a very special personal call for worship of the living God -- "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Ps.23:1-4).

Using a common but beautiful pastoral image, the Psalmist says that we are God's sheep, "the flock under his care."

Sitting in my office at Western Seminary the other day, I experienced a true worship moment. Going through my e-mails, trying to rush through them to accomplish the given tasks for the day I was urged by one of the senders to take a moment and listen to a song. I was treated to a worship moment with the music skills and ability of Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill. But halfway through the song as beautifully sung as it was I found myself joining them in singing, "How Great Thou Art". These performers who were uniquely touched of God, powerfully led their audiences in a moment of worship. I was so moved by the song I began to weep, than joined in praise, and a little bit of shouting (just Amen), singing and worshiping the Lord! I had been in the presence of the King! He met me in a new and fresh way, and I came to a new appreciation for how to worship God -- with no restrictions. Just a full awareness that the music will be better and the choir will be larger, when I see Him face-to-face. For indeed that is what heaven will be like.

Revelation 5:11 

"Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang:

"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" 

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is 
in them, singing:

"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and 
honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"

The four living creatures said, "AMEN," and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Be sure not to miss church these days as we do indeed worship together. Look again at Psalm 95 as it calls to our hearts. 

“So come let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. 
Let us come before Him with Thanksgiving 
and extol him with music and song”.

Rejoicing. . .Larry McCracken

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