By Brent Lanigan
Sometimes it feels as if the word worship has become too common in our Christian lexicon. It gets used to describe our praise singing (“We are now going to worship”), our tithing (“Let’s give as an act of worship”), and a style of music (“My favourite music is worship music”). But what really is worship as seen in Scripture? Thankfully, the Bible paints a very clear picture. Join me in exploring the essence of biblical worship over these 5 devotionals.
Part 1: What is Worship and Why Should We Worship?
Psalm 29:1-2 Praise the Lord’s glory and power. Praise the Lord for the glory of his name. Worship the Lord because he is holy.
Fascinating Fact: An article on the Smithsonian website Folkways, talks about throat-singing, a guttural style of singing or chanting. The article says that throat-sing is “one of the world’s oldest forms of music. For those who think the human voice can produce only one note at a time, the resonant harmonies of throat-singing are surprising. In throat-singing, a singer can produce two or more notes simultaneously through a specialized vocalization technique that takes advantage of the throat’s resonance characteristics. By precise movements of the lips, tongue, jaw, velum and larynx, throat-singers produce unique harmonies using only their bodies. Throat-singing is most identified with parts of Central Asia.” Interesting to consider how our worship style in our churches would sound if we adopted throat-singing!
Scripture Study. As we launch our discovery of the biblical picture of worship, the initial question we need to ask ourselves is this: how is biblical worship defined? In Psalm 29:1, the psalmist gives clarity to both these questions. David, the masterfully gifted worship song composer, sets the definition of worship in its simplest frame: it is to praise God’s “glory and power”. It is giving God praise “for the glory of his name”.
Knowing what biblical worship is thus leads seamlessly into David’s foundational reason for why believers should worship God: “worship the Lord because he is holy.” To worship God because he is holy is to humbly praise and thank God for his perfection, his sinless-ness; for that is what holiness is: to be perfectly without sin.
Can you imagine trying to praise God if he was not perfect? It would be pretty difficult, wouldn’t it? There would be no motivation on our part to give God praise if he was not perfect or sinless. We would have no valid reason to worship God because he would be just like us: sinfully imperfect! But because God is perfect and therefore holy, he deserves our full worship. In short, our hearts should join with the psalmist who proclaims, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:6)
Questions to Discuss
1. Imagine what it would feel like to try and praise God if he was not perfectly sinless, perfectly holy. Would you have any motivation to do so?
2. In verses 1-2 of Psalm 29, David says that we should worship God by praising his glory and power. What are other specific things that we can praise God for?
3. Describe your favourite way of worshiping God (e.g., singing, playing instruments, dancing).
We praise you God for being perfect and without sin. And we thank you God for being holy. We praise you God for who you are and humbly worship you with our praise. Amen.