Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Psalm 111: Six Facets of Worship

In Psalm 111 we are given six descriptive images of what worship is:

1. Illuminating “Hallelujah”
The first word that is translated “praise” is hallelu. This word does mean to praise, but in another tense it also means to shine. That is a good way of thinking about worship. When something is worshiped, it is illuminated so that everyone can see it. When God is worshiped, it is His light that is being reflected back on Him. Worship is all about making God clearly visible.

2. Proclamation “I will give thanks…”
The second word that means to praise can also be translated: thank, confess, or proclaim. In the past few decades a trend in worship has been to sing directly to God, to address Him personally. However, that does not mean that singing about God is not praise. Worship can just as well be about telling the world about God. When we proclaim God to the world we are worshiping.

3. Singing “His praise endures forever.”
The last phrase of this Psalm has another word that is often translated as “praise.” It is actually the word that in plural form is the name of this book: “Psalms.” It means to sing to God. This facet of worship is often the only understanding people have of worship today, and it is just one small part of what worship is. It is still, however, an important aspect of worship.

4. Obsession “They are studied…”
Worship has an aspect of devotion to it. We spend all of our time and energy occupied with that which we really worship. It has been said you can tell what someone worships by studying their calendar and check book. Someone who worships God learns everything they can about Him and his works.

5. Delight “…by all who delight in them.”
Worship results in joy. If someone worships because they have to—because it is a duty, how can that be true praise? That does not mean it is all song and dance. Athletes are devoted to their discipline, even when it is hard work and repetitive exercise. But they only stick with it when they love what they do. It is the same with worship.

6. Fear “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
Ultimately, worship is about fear. We worship what we fear. If you think about it, you do worship what you are scared of. You think about it all the time. You live your life influenced by it, and how you can avoid it. Often, the things people fear become their obsession. With God, we need not be scared of Him. (Even though He is anything but harmless.) We do need to respect Him, however, and healthy worship is built around knowing God for who He is. Over and over again, the Bible speaks of the fear of the Lord. Basically, worship involves a creature recognizing the creator.

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