Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Oh Come! Worship & Warning in Psalm 95, Day 2

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Watch Nancy teach this series.

Dannah Gresh: How do you prepare for worship? You could tune your instrument, arrange sheet music, practice with a band. But Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminds us that the most important way to prepare for worship starts in our hearts.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: People who are really aware of the redeeming power of God in their lives and the creative power of God in this world, and they’re thinking about it, and it’s not just something on the back burner of their head, but it’s front of mind for them; these are people who sing celebrating the greatness and goodness of God.

Leslie Basham: Today is Tuesday, November 26, 2019, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, along with Dannah Gresh.

Dannah: Yesterday Nancy helped us explore what it truly means to worship in a series called "Oh Come! Worship & Warning in Psalm 95." Here she is with part 2.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I got a text late last night as I was working on this session, and in God’s providence it was just what I needed to see.

It was a friend who knew that I was teaching on Psalm 95 today, and she wanted to let me know she was praying for me. This woman teaches in a psych hospital, and here’s what her text said. 

A tenth-grade boy interrupted class singing a song he made up on the spot—super loudly and off-key—because he had just been told his foster family was giving him a second chance. He was so excited and thankful because this was a family that had a warm meal every night and even put out Christmas lights in December. He sat down and just shook his head and told the other kids, “God is amazing."

So it was a spontaneous outburst of praise from a heart that couldn’t help itself. He was so thrilled and overwhelmed with God’s goodness. I love that! That is a Psalm 95 moment.

If you don’t know what we’re talking about, because you weren’t with us yesterday, let me invite you to turn to Psalm 95, and we’ll pick up where we left off yesterday.

Starting this Thanksgiving week, we’re looking at a wonderful thanksgiving psalm, but as you’ll see tomorrow, it takes some twists and turns that you might not expect of a thanksgiving psalm.

So we began in verses 1 and 2 with this joyful exuberant call to worship.

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence [Remember what we said that means? Come to His face. Meet Him. Encounter Him. Come right before His face] with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

So the beginning of this psalm is an invitation to join God’s people in a joyful procession as they head toward the temple. They’re going to be with the Lord. That’s where the presence of the Lord would have been—the Shekinah glory, the face of the Lord. They didn’t have the Holy Spirit living inside of them as we do today, so they would go to the temple to worship.

And he’s saying, “Come! Let’s go! Come with me. Let’s do this together.”

They’re singing as they’re going. It’s this great, joyful procession heading toward the temple.

Now, again, as I mentioned yesterday, there are a variety of expressions, ways that we can praise the Lord. I think it’s so sad that so many of us as believers, and so many of our churches get stuck on a few styles and expressions of praise and worship.

Now, we all have styles of music that we enjoy and some that we don’t enjoy as much. And then you talk to the person of another generation or another background who’s sitting next to you in church, and they say, “Oh, I don’t like that at all, but here’s what I really do love.” So we have different tastes, and there’s no problem with that. But the question isn’t: 

  • What are we comfortable with? 
  • What do we enjoy most when it comes to worship styles and music and preferences?
  • What do WE enjoy most? 

But the question is: What pleases and honors and glorifies the Lord? Because this is to HIM. We’re coming to His temple, to His face, to His presence. We’re coming to sing to the Lord and to worship Him.

So as we remember that we are coming into the presence of the Lord in our corporate worship, what difference would that make? We asked that question yesterday. What difference would that make if we were really conscious that we are in the presence of the Lord? Because we’re with other believers who have the Holy Spirit, are filled with Him, are singing to Him. We realize this is not about the style, it’s not about the preferences, it’s not about what kind of instruments they’re using.

My husband comes out of a background where he loves the great big pipe organ. Well, when’s the last time you heard one of those in church? There aren’t too many. If you heard one Sunday, that’s pretty unusual.

But I love the fact that even though our church doesn’t have a pipe organ and has a very different style of music than what Robert was accustomed to before we got married, his heart is to sing and praise the Lord with the people of God with whatever instruments they’ve got up there and with the different style. Sometimes both of us (we’re getting a little older here, notice I said a little older!) we don’t learn these songs or catch on to them quite as quickly as it seems some of the younger ones do.

We can whine and complain and grouse and talk about what the music was like when we were . . . You know what? We come to church to worship together with the people of God.

So now this psalm addresses, beginning in this next section, why do we sing to the Lord. What motivates us to praise Him in this exuberant, celebrative way?

Now, we had a clue in verse 1: “Sing to the Lord, let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.” That gives us a clue. It tells us that Christ, Yahweh, the Lord, is our firm, unshakable foundation. He is the God who saves us. That’s worth celebrating! That’s something to be joyful about.

He has saved us. To be saved means not just that you get a ticket to heaven. To be saved means that you are saved from the wrath of God. You are saved from the judgment of God. You are saved from sin and from bondage to yourself and saved in order to love and serve and follow Jesus Christ.

So this is something, as we think about Him as the rock of our salvation. (Remember that word “rock,” by the way because we’re going to come back to that thought when we get tomorrow to the next part of this psalm.) But we praise Him because He’s the rock of our salvation.

And then as we get to verses 3–5, we see this whole paragraph that starts with the word “for”—f-o-r—for, because. Let us sing to the Lord, let us make a joyful noise, let us come into His presence with thanksgiving, singing songs of praise—why? Because, verses 3–5 . . . and before I read those verses, let me just remind you that we have a lot of good reason for praise.

Worship is not a mindless activity. It’s not just, “Oh, it gives me chills. It gives me goosebumps. It makes me feel better.” Biblical worship, whether it’s music or other means of worship, is rooted in a right understanding of the God of the Bible. You can’t worship Him appropriately if you don’t know who He is.

A lot of people are worshiping this imaginary, figment of their mind—somebody that they made up. They don’t know. There’s a lot of false teaching about God. That’s why we need to get in the Word, find out who God really is, and then we will worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

So let’s read this paragraph. We sing to Him. We worship Him. 

For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

So let’s just park in that paragraph for just a few moments.

First, it tells us, “He’s a great God.” So we should worship Him in a great way.

He’s a great King.

This psalm, Psalm 95, is one of several psalms, mostly found right in this part of the psalter that are called “enthronement psalms.” That means they talk about God being a King, being enthroned above.

It reminds us that He is not some small, tribal deity, like the imaginary gods of the nations around Israel. He is over all other gods. He is a great King, above all gods. All authority, all power in the universe belongs to Him.

And then it talks about, “In his hands are the depths of the earth.” He is the creator, the sovereign Lord, the sustainer of the whole universe. And it bores down into some specifics.

It talks about “the depths of the earth,” that which is hidden under the earth, that which is down low. “And the heights of the mountain,” that’s unscalable places that no human being can get to.

From bottom to top, from low to high, in this vertical range, He holds it all in His hand. How massive is He! He’s got the whole world in His hands, and that’s why we worship Him and we praise Him.

But not only the vertical, then we have the horizontal. “The sea and the dry land”—everything that you can see as you look around.

Water . . . We have the privilege in this area of living near Lake Michigan and the St. Joe River. So we have sea and rivers. And then we have dry land. And some of you live in places where there are mountains, and other places where there are valleys and deserts. I come from the northeast, where there are big, huge oak trees and a lot of beautiful greenery. And then you have those parts of Texas where it’s just flat, and you can see for, I don’t know, a hundred miles.

All this different topography, it’s all His—the sea and the dry land. It’s His, for He made it. His hands formed the dry land.

His hands made it all. His hands hold it all. You see the hands of God figuring prominently in this psalm. He is the creator and the controller of all creation.

As I read this paragraph, I think about another paragraph in the psalms, Psalm 139, beginning in verse 7, that celebrates the everywhere-ness of God.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me (vv. 7–10).

So with His hand, He made us and this whole world. With His hand, He holds this whole world, and with His hand, He leads His children.

All of this is cause to sing enthusiastically to the Lord.

Let me say, when we talk about exuberant, celebrative worship, I am not suggesting that we just work it up, that we just go, “I’m going to sing loudly. We’re going to make loud music and it’s going to be to the Lord.” No!

The worship starts in the heart. It starts with a recognition of who God is and what He has done. It’s like this artesian well that springs up and causes us to . . . It flows out of us, making a joyful noise to the Lord. It causes us to come before Him with thanksgiving. It causes us to praise Him with all our hearts.

Maybe there are some exceptions to this, but as a rule, I think you can tell what people believe about God and what they have experienced of His mercy and His grace by listening to the way they sing. People who are really aware of the redeeming power of God in their lives and the creative power of God in this world, and they’re thinking about it, and it’s not just something on the back burner of their head, but it’s front of mind for them; these are people who sing celebrating the greatness and goodness of God.

Now we come to verse 6 in Psalm 95, and this is the middle verse and the central concept of this whole psalm. In verse 6, we have the call to worship repeated. The first two verses said, “Come. Let us sing to the Lord; come into His presence.”

But now this call to worship, this second one in verse 6, is a whole different tone than the first two verses. It’s more personal. It’s more intimate. I think because the joyful worshipers who were singing in procession on the way to the temple have now arrived at the temple, and their worship becomes more solemn. It’s not boring. It’s not dead. It’s very alive. It’s heartfelt. It’s deep. It’s rich. But it’s more solemn as they bow before the Lord in His presence. That’s what they were coming for, to be before His face, to be in His presence.

And so they say in verse 6, “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!”

And again, here, you have that word, the word “before”—“let us kneel before.”It’s the word “face.” Let us kneel, face the Lord, our Maker! His face. We face Him. He faces us.

Now, we know that the Israelites in that day could not come directly into the holiest place because the glory of God and the holiness of God was so great that if they saw it, they would die. But because of Jesus Christ, we have seen God in the face of Jesus Christ, and we can worship Him freely with no dividing wall, no dividing curtain. There’s nothing between us and Him. We can come boldly into His presence in a way that these Old Testament worshipers could only just get the most dim foreshadowing of.

So the first five verses we have this enthusiastic, joyful celebration—singing, dancing, shouting. And now God’s people are called to worship Him with reverence and humility.

Now, I find that in most of our churches, our corporate worship often tends more toward one of these types of worship or the other. You have some churches where it’s all about the celebrative, the upbeat, the exuberant, the expressive worship. And then you have some where it tends more toward the calm, the solemn, the reflective type of quiet worship.

And I want to suggest, as I have been meditating on this psalm, that we need both. We need both.

Now, we also have different personalities, and we tend to think, Well, I’m more this way, so this is what I prefer.

How many of you would consider yourselves to be extroverts? Let me see your hand. Okay. Quite a few in the room.

How many of you would consider yourselves to be introverts? Quite a few. Some of you don’t know what you are. (laughter) But that’s all right.

How many of you prefer one of these types of worship over the other? You prefer the more celebrative and expressive, or you prefer the more reserved and reflective? They can both be beautiful. How many of you prefer one or the other of those, you prefer one more than the other? Okay. Some of you like both.

I would suggest that we all need both. Extroverts need, at times, humble, quiet, reverent worship—not that you can’t be humble or reverent when you’re singing loudly. And introverts—and I’m preaching to myself here—we need to be willing at times to get out of ourselves, to move past our inhibitions and to sing loudly to the Lord. If it were up to me, I would keep all the music really quiet. I would have no percussion. I would just have soft, gentle, quiet music. But it’s not up to me. It’s up to God. And God likes both.

And I’m not just talking about the instruments. I’m talking about the type, the way we worship Him. Sometimes it’s that celebrative, exuberant, expressive, and sometimes it’s that more humble, reflective, reverential worship.

You know what—for those of us who are introverts, I think sometimes what restrains us is not so much our personality type. I think sometimes it’s just plain old pride, fear of man, fear of what others think. “Well, we just didn’t do it that way when I was growing up.”

I watch these people who just get all into it. Sometimes my heart can feel a little critical, like, “They probably aren’t really worshiping Him in Spirit and in truth.” (laughter) Now, I would never say that. Sometimes I wonder, like, “Are they just performing?” You know what? There’s no way I can know, and it’s not up to me to know. I’ve just got to make sure about myself. I can be really quiet and still not be thinking about the Lord at all.

So one form or one style doesn’t mean you’re more spiritual. It doesn’t mean you’re more godly. It doesn’t mean you’re more worshipful. We need both, and we see that in this psalm.

So verse 6 says, “Let us”—again, we’re doing this together. And then there’s three verbs: “Let us worship;” “Let us bow down;” and “Let us kneel.” And they all communicate a similar concept.

“Let us worship”—I’m going to just give you a little . . . By the way, I don’t know Hebrew. I’m no scholar on this. But I have some great books that can help you in looking up these things. The word translated “worship” from the Hebrew means “to bow oneself down, to prostrate oneself before a superior out of honor.”

So just picture this: We’re prostrating ourselves before God out of honor to Him.

You remember the King of Siam in The King and I? Anna was this tutor who had come to teach the kids of the King of Siam. And they had a rule there that nobody’s head could be higher than the king’s head. So he keeps going down, and she’s bowing down lower and lower. It’s just kind of a silly picture, in a way, compared to our worship of God. But it’s saying, “We recognize that we are always beneath Him. He is always above us. We honor Him.”

One grammar tool that I looked at to understand this word “worship” better as it’s used in Psalm 95 described that as “people falling on their knees and touching the ground with their forehead.” Let us worship . . . let us worship.

Well, there’s a second verb: “Let us bow down.” That’s a word that means “to bend the knee, to bow down, to kneel in reverence.”

And then that word, “Let us kneel.” It’s a word that’s used many times in the Old Testament. It’s often translated, “bless.” “Bless the Lord, oh my soul.” But it’s a word that actually means “to bend the knee, to kneel down and bless God as an act of adoration.”

So what do you see in common in all these, in each of these three words? It’s getting low because He is high—bowing down before the Lord.

And here’s what else I see in these words: They are an outward, physical expression of an internal heart attitude.

Listen, it doesn’t do us any good to bow down before the Lord if your heart is stubborn and proud and resistant to the Lord. The physical expression doesn’t make it so, but sometimes our physical expressions of worship can help coach our hearts and remind us that He is great and we are not. Bowing low before God in worship and adoration is a posture of humility, acknowledging His greatness.

I’ve been thinking as I’ve been meditating on this psalm about the whole role of the body, our physical body. It’s not just that our soul worships the Lord or we worship the Lord with our spirit. He made us with physical bodies, and our bodies are part of our worship.

This may seem a little odd to bring in here, but I’ve been thinking about this. In one of the Anglican marriage ceremonies, the bride and groom pledge this to each other. This is what they say in the marriage ceremony:

My body will adore you, and your body alone will I cherish. I will with my body declare your worth. With my body, I thee honor.

Now, that makes a lot of sense to us when you’re talking about a couple getting married. They’re going to give their bodies to each other. They’re going to love each other physically as well as emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. But you say, “In worship? Would you use those terms?”

Well, we are to honor God. We are to worship Him. We are to love Him As this marriage ceremony says, we are to love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. And that includes our physical bodies.

So when we clap our hands before the Lord, when we lift our hands in praise, when we sing, when we shout, when we stand before Him, when we kneel, when we bow before Him, these are all ways of adoring Him with our bodies, declaring His worth with our bodies, honoring Him with our bodies. It makes those expressions of worship so much more meaningful to realize I’m not only giving my soul and my heart and my life to the Lord, but I’m giving Him my body as well.

So we see this cause for wholehearted worship in verses 3 and 5, His greatness. He’s the great King over all the universe. He’s the Creator of the entire earth. But then we come down to verses 6 and 7, and we see some even more personal reasons for wholehearted worship.

We see the blessings and the privileges that we have in Him. We see in verse 3 that He’s the creator of the whole world, but verses 6 and 7 is about His relationship with us.

“Kneel before the Lord our maker.”

He not only made the mountains and the depths of the sea and the dry land and the seas, He made us. We were made by Him and made for Him. He made the sea, and He owns it. We read that earlier. He made us. And so what does that mean about who owns us? He does! He’s our Maker. And more than that, we have a covenant relationship with Him.

Verse 7: For he is our God. This is why we are to worship and bow down: "For He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand."

There’s that word again. His hand formed the earth. His hand holds the earth. And His hand cares for us. We are “the sheep of His hand.” He’s the tender shepherd and redeemer of His people.

I think if you’re using the NIV there, it says, “We are the flock under His care.” He cares for us. He’s committed Himself to us. He is kind to us.

And so we are held in His hand. His hand made us as a potter makes something out of clay. He cares for, protects, feeds, and leads His sheep with His hand.

This is what Jesus says in John chapter 10: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He calls them by name. They hear Him, and they follow Him.”

So when we bow down before Him, in our hearts and physically as well, what we’re saying is, “You’re God, and we are not. You are the Shepherd. We are the sheep. We are needy. We are dependent. We are sinful. And we need You to lead us and care for us.” We need a shepherd and we have a Shepherd, so we kneel down and worship Him.

Dannah: If you’re part of a church, you’re invited to sing all the time. It’s so easy to let that become routine and dry. But Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been taking you to the heart of true worship. Nancy, I love how you’ve reminded us why we have so many reasons to passionately worship the Lord!

Nancy: Thanks Dannah. I wanted to focus on worship as we are about to enter a season that can just be filled with busyness. If we’re not purposeful, we can mindlessly go through holiday traditions and events and miss the heart of what our celebration is all about.

Every year I say to myself, "I'm not going to let that happen this year!" But those days just get filled and away from me so quickly. That's why I have to keep calling myself back to the heart of worship.

Dannah: I can truly identify. So, that's why this season we’d like to help you focus on Jesus by sending you a brand-new advent devotional by Nancy. It’s called Consider Jesus. It's going to help you set your heart on worshipping Jesus in this season. Itl will take you through thirty-one devotional readings all about Jesus. You’ll explore topics like: His deity His humanity, why we needed Him to come to earth, what exactly He did here on earth.

Nancy: As you set your heart on Jesus day by day through these devotionals, you’ll learn more about Him and discover new reasons to worship Him this season.

Dannah: We would love to send you Nancy’s devotional Consider Jesus when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size.

Nancy: And that support is crucial this time of year. In past years, almost half of the donations we need for the entire year have come in the month of December. That means we really need to hear from our listeners in a big way here at the end of the year. Your year-end gift will help keep current Revive Our Hearts outreaches going. And it will help us move forward where we sense God moving—developing resources for women of all ages and exploring expanded ministry in places like Europe and Brazil, where women are saying, "Come share this message with us. We really need to have it for the women in our countries." We’re asking the Lord to provide significantly between now and the end of December.

Would you be praying about how He’d have you get involved? Your gift at this time means a lot because some friends of Revive Our Hearts once again have committed to double every gift between now and December 31 as part of a matching challenge!

Dannah: You can get more details on helping be a part of achieving that matching challenge by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. That’s also where you can give toward these needs. And don’t forget, this week when you give, we’d like to send you Nancy’s Advent devotional. Again, the web address is ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for the devotional, Consider Jesus when you call with your gift to 1–800–569–5959.

I hope you’ll keep exploring this topic of worship with us tomorrow. Nancy will help you make thanksgiving not just a day on the calendar, but an attitude in your heart.

Please be back for Revive Our Hearts Now she’s back to close in prayer.

Nancy: We do worship You, Oh Lord—not as we wish we could, and not as we know we should, and not as we one day will—but to the best of our ability, and with You helping us by Your Spirit and Your grace, we bow our heads, we bow our hearts, and at times we bow our knees with our faces to the ground, and we just say, “We worship You for we are Your people. You have made us, and we are the sheep of Your hand.”

So this Thanksgiving week—and every week—we want to bless You and worship You in a way that is worthy of You. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you get to the heart of worship. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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