June 5, 2013
Once we’ve established that we come to the worship service first and foremost as a producer of praise, not a consumer, we can rightly consider what we ought to desire to get out of a worship service. The reality is that we all come wanting and needing, and God is aware of that, created us that way, and graciously longs to meet us there. Psalm 63 is a great model for us, showing us the “both-and” approach. I don’t think what we’re talking about here is a balance between giving and receiving, but a passionate desire for the full measure of both within the corporate worship service.
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalms 63:1 ESV)
Perhaps most important to note is that the Psalmist’s approach here is very personal. This is a not a corporate Psalm written for a worship service. This is a window into the devotional life of King David, a page out of his journal. It is written during a time when he was homeless in a desert, fleeing from his enemies. God-breathed Scripture now, this psalm gives us a pattern of how God longs for us to relate to Him, not just in the worship service, but every day of the week! We are to seek and to thirst! Note that this psalm begins with an intense desire to receive, but then looks upward:
“So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.” (Psalms 63:2 ESV)
Now here’s a reference to David’s experience in the corporate worship service! We ought to come desiring to behold the power and glory of our God. This is referring back to David’s experience of the presence of God in the sanctuary. So should we always long to behold the presence of God, displayed with power and glory when we come to corporate worship. That display is most vividly seen in his steadfast love.
“Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.” (Psalms 63:3–4 ESV)
I think David is still recounting his ‘corporate worship’ experience in the sanctuary here. He resolves to give praise and blessing with his lips, with his hands lifted up in worship. David’s focus turns from receiving to giving. Why? Because God’s steadfast love is perhaps the greatest comfort and most satisfying portion for our needy souls. How much moreso ought it be for us now, this side of the cross? I do get a touch of sadness when we sing songs that talk about God’s love and never mention the most obvious display of that love. Jesus! Let’s not sing around the concept of God’s steadfast love and miss the bulls eye! “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11” (1 John 4:9–11 NIV)
What did David ultimately know he would get out of worship? Satisfaction for his soul!
“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,” (Psalms 63:5 ESV)
There’s more to this Psalm, but here is the first point. What should we want to get out of the corporate worship experience with God?
- Satisfaction for the spiritual hunger and thirst of our souls that comes from seeing God’s power and glory, tasting his steadfast love (better than life itself!), and responding by praising, blessing and lifting up our hands in his name, the name of Jesus!