Sunday, July 31, 2011


Worship should be exciting. King David is portrayed in the Bible as dancing and singing and giving praises to God. Does exciting worship consist merely of such obvious demonstrations? In learning what the Bible has to teach us about worship, the example of King David’s attitude is instructive.

The first attempt was unsuccessful (2 Samuel 6:1-10) because the people failed to acknowledge God’s holiness. They treated the Ark, which God called sacred, as if it were just another piece of religious furniture. For one thing, they transported the Ark using a cart which was not the means prescribed by God for transporting the Ark (Exodus 25:14). Then, when the cart teetered under the pull of the oxen, one of the attendants put his hand on the sacred Ark to steady it. So disrespectful was the man’s action that “God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the Ark of God” (2 Samuel 6:7). The procession made it only as far as Obed-Edom. There the Ark stayed
Three month later, David finished building the tabernacles that would house the Ark. He decided to make a second attempt at bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. The king and his people were obviously excited! But something about their worship was different this time. This time David obeyed God’s instruction. Notice that the Ark was now borne by porters in the manner God had prescribed. A proper recognition of God’s holiness was also demonstrated by starting the procession with sacrifice. (2 Samuel 6:13-16)
What is the lesson in the two attempts? We have seen two instances of worship, both of which involved great excitement involving music, singing, and rejoicing. But one ended in disaster and the other in blessings. Both expressions were exciting but in only one instance did God accept the worship. What was the difference?
The difference was the ATTITUDE in which the worship was offered. In the first attempt to transport the Ark, God was disobeyed and His presence – symbolized in the Ark – was carelessly regarded. But in the second attempt God was obeyed, and through offerings and praises, His person was the focus of His people’s worship.
The ATTITUDE that made the difference can be seen in the song that David composed upon the Ark’s return. The Bible records what the heart of God’s man was as he participated in worship that was both exciting and true. David’s song, recorded in 1 Chronicles 16:8-36, is actually a compilation of three psalms David had written. The middle section of David’s song was based on what is now preserved in the Bible as Psalm 96. In this psalm we find the theme of the entire song, expressing the essence of true, joyful worship.
“O, Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth” (Psalm 96:9)

In this song David issue a call to worship, a worship that is joyful and fearful at the same time. Can this kind of worship really take place? How do we resolve this seeming contradiction of ATTITUDES? Fear stems from the fact that,, when we say God is holy, we acknowledge His complete separation from sin. He avoids contact with sin and is offended by our sins. God’s holiness leaves you and me in a difficult situation. To resolve this difficulty, some suggest that the Church today should not focus on God’s holiness; that focus might turn people away from God’s love. But David resolved the difficult by describing God’s holiness as “beautiful.”
Why beautiful? The person who loves sin knows in his conscience that that he offends God, and so he regards God’s holiness as austere and restrictive. But that same holiness is beautiful to the person whom God has delivered from sin’s power and penalty. The repentant sinner trembles at the thought of his position before a holy God, but he rejoices in the truth that only a God who is perfectly sinless could have the power to save him.
David’s call to worship is first of all, therefore, a call to fear. For if we see the holy God as all that He is, we will fear greatly. Fearing God is the first step. The second step occurs when our fear matures into awesome respect for the beauty of His holiness. Such maturation takes place when we understand God’s love and forgiveness more fully. In the third step, as our understanding of God increases, two things will happen. We will fear all the more at the thought of offending Him who loves us. But we will rejoice all the more as we contemplate the consummation of His deliverance.

David’s song before the Ark of the Covenant teaches that a proper ATTITUDE in worship will be manifested in proper actions in worship. Specifically, David describes three categories of actions: Singing, proclaiming, and offering.
He who worships truly must sing a new song unto the holy God. “Oh Sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless his name” (Psalm 96:1-2a). A new song is a fresh song, a song that is different from the old kind of song that illustrates the effects of sin. The new song that God deserves is a song that blesses His name. It’s new song that is directed to Him and that exalts His character, which is rooted in His name.
A proper ATTITUDE in worship will be manifested in our proclamations. “Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations. His wonders among all peoples … say among the nations ‘The Lord reigns’ “ (Psalm 96:2-3, 10). True worship proclaims the inexhaustible good news of God’s salvation every day.
Finally, a proper ATTITUDE of joyful reverence in worship will express itself in acceptable offerings. “Give to the Lord, O families of the people, give to the Lord glory and strength. Give to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts” (Psalm 96:7-8). True words of praise to God, in contrast, are backed by sacrifice.

True worship starts with a proper ATTITUDE that manifests itself in proper actions. But in the final analysis, worship does not begin with us at all; it finds its proper anchor in the worthiness of God.
"For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary"
(Psalm 96:4-6).
God's worth is revealed in His greatness and supremacy, honor and majesty, strength and beauty. Some people stop at this point; they contemplate God's worthiness and express their admiration. Their worship might include some excitement, just as did the worship of the people of Israel the first time they attempted to bring the Ark into Jerusalem. But a proper excitement in worship occured only when the people obeyed God. Their obedience was rooted in a proper fear of and reverence for Him.
(an extract from True Worship by David Whitcomb and Mark Ward, Sr.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011


We continue Part 2 on the story of King David's sin and restoration. From last week post, how could King David respond in worship at the death of his child? The answer is found in David's writing.
David composed Psalms 32 and Psalm 51 in connection with this sin and repentance. In these two psalms, there is a clear and important six-step pattern of repentance that opened the door of David to enjoy true worship anew. It is difficult, if not impossible, for us to enjoy true worship today until we have gone through a similar process of repentance.

A) Step 1 - Repentance Is Conviction
David wrote his unconfessed sin, "When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long" (Psalm 32:3). He was miserable when he tried to conceal his sin! Furthermore, he clearly sensed God's hand of conviction, pressing down on him and drying up the vitality of his life. "For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me: my vitality was turned into the drought of summer" (Psalm 32:4). Yet his aweful condition was a blessing from a loving God. Fear of sin and its consequences is in fact a healthy fear. Far worse is the condition in which sin no longer bothers us. David understood that God "desires truth in the inward parts" and that, through His hand of conviction, "in the hidden part you will make me to know wisdom" (Psalm 51:6). Sin thwarts the truth, but God sent conviction brings wisdom.

B) Step 2 - Confession
"I acknowledged my sin to you," wrote David, "and my iniquity I have not hidden" (Psalm 32:5). Note that David confessed even though he realized that God already knew about his sin. By ending the cover-up, David was bringing himself into agreement with God. The same agreement is expressed in Psalm 51:3-4: "For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight." Although it is true that he had hurt others, David keenly felt that his trangression was first against God. Confession to God, therefore, is required for true repentance to occur.

C) Step 3 - A Genuine Desire To Agree With God about The Sin
David recorded that "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord" (Psalm 32:5). He did not argue with God or put forth an excuse. He recognized that God had every right to "hide [His] face from my sins" (Psalm 51:9) and that it was His perrogative to "have mercy upon me" (Psalm 51:1a). Asking for mercy was recognition that it is God alone who helps the helpless. David longed to be forgiven (Psalm 51:1b), cleansed (Psalm 51:2), and healed (Psalm 51:8) by God. He yearned for restored fellowship with Him (Psalm 51:7-12) and to be delivered from his guilt and depression (Psalm 51:14). He acknowledged that God had broken him (Psalm 51:8), This work was necessary, however, before the Lord could "create in [him] a clean heart" and "renew a steadfast spirit within [him]" (Psalm 51:10). Clearly David desired to be in agreement with God!

D) Step 4 - Such Agreement Brings Assurance
After all, agreeing with God neccessarily means knowing that He really can do what He says He can do. "Purge me ... and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" (Psalm 51:7). David was sure that happiness comes from knowing that, for those who sincerely repent, God forgives sin and gives righteousness in its place. "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord foes not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit" (Psalm 32:1-2). Beyond simply stating a general principle, David declared his assurance that God had acted in his own case, that He "forgave the iniquity of [his] sin" (Psalm 32:5). David was secure in the knowledge that God was his "hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble" (Psalm 32:7). Only a forgiven sinner can hide in God, for the unrepentant seeks instead to hide from God!

E) Step 5 - For The Repentant Sinner Is Commitment
"For this cause [the cause of forgiveness] everyone who is godly shall pray to You in a time when You may be found" (Psalm 32:6). Godly people actively respond to God's chastening. David's response included not only prayer, but also sharing what he had learned with others. "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go" (Psalm 32:8), he declared, resolving to "teach transgressors Your ways. He affirmed that "then sinners shall be converted to You' (Psalm 51:13). Like David, the penitent sinner is committed to being used by God for His glory.

F) Step 6 - Worship Is In The Process Of Repentance
The forgiven sinner revels in the fact that God "shall surround me with songs of deliverance" (Psalm 32:7). Those whose transgressions have been covered declare withDavid, "Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, you righteous: and shout for joy, all you upright in heart" (Psalm 32:11). The king did, in fact, conclude the process of repetance is not expressed by simply going through the motions of worship. A broken and contrite sinner expresses himself in worship that comes from the heart
"O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sarifices o God are a broken and contrite heart - these, O God, You will not depise" (Psalm 51:15-17).

Notice that David's worship was the result of God's opening his lips. His songs and praises of worship came from submission to and communion with God - and that communion resulted from a repentant heart. Jesus Himself, when He ordained our observance of the Lord's Supper, commanded that prior to worship " a man [should] examine himself, and so ... eat of the bread, and drink of the cup" (1 Corinthians 11:28). Apart from god' breaking our hearts in repentance from sin, the religious traditions that we call "worship" fail the teat of true worship. Would that we would remember the words of the prophet Samuel:
"Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,as in obeying the voice of the Lord? behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams" (1 Samuel 15:22).
(an extract from True Worship - David Whitcomb & Mark Ward, Sr.)

Saturday, July 16, 2011


The story of King David's adultery with Bathsheba is recorded in 2 Samuel chapter 11 and 12. David was about fifty when, contrary to custom and duty, he decided one year to stay home from the wars and let his general lead the army. Strolling about the palace one evening, he noticed the wife of one of his generals. He conceived a lust for Bathsheba, sinned with her, and then compounded his offense by arranging the death of her husband. Not until the Lord sent His prophet Nathan, to confront David and pronounce God's coming retribution (the death of Bathsheba's child) did the king at last confess his guilt.

"Nathan replied,'The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown untter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die' " (2 Samuel 12:14).

But David continued to seek the Lord and he sure knew how to pray. We see 2 Samuel 12:16-17 - "David pleaded with God for the child. he fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the gorund. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them."

But the child died! Anyone who has not learnt how to be subjected to God's way would have charged Him with harshness when his request was not granted. Many Christians have controversies with God when His ways conflict with their ways. Other might rebel or loose heart but not David. When the child died, his servants feared to break the news to him. They reasoned among themselves that if David was almost overwhelmed with anxiety when the child fell sick, his grief would be unbearable if he should learnt of his child death.
What actually happened? "Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, he put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and WORSHIPED. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food and he ate" (2 Samuel 12:20).

What is worship? It Is bowing to the ways of God. It is not a dull kind of submission. It is not lapsing into hopelessness or pasivity. It is a positive recognition of the sovereignty of God's ways.

It is often necessary for God to vindicate Himself in relation to us. It means that if we sin He has to justify Himself by making it clear to the angels, to the devil, to the world and to all His children that He has no part in our sin. He has to make it plain to the principalities and powers, to the world and to the church that He cannot be involved in our iniquity. When we are found guilty before Him, His govermental hand comes upon us and we are tried in fires of affliction. How do we react at such a time? Worshipers who know His ways will say: "If my affliction can vindicate Your holiness, then I say, amen! If You can make known Your righteousness by my suffering, then I acknowledge that You do all things well and I gladly accept Your dealings upon me."

David was a normal human being and he felt the death of his child keenly; but when he saw the hand of God in this, he bowed before Him in WORSHIP. May God deliver us from our controversies with Him. When we meet with disappointments and frustrations we shall choose to worship Him if we see His ways.

Saturday, July 09, 2011


Hannah provides an Old Testament example of someone who manifested complete commitment in her worship. As the first book of Samuel opens, Hannah is carrying a great burden. She is unable to have children. This experience is a painful one for any woman, but it was especially difficult for Jewish women who felt obligated to continue the seed of Abraham. And Hannah faced individual circumstances that aggravated the problem. Her husband Elkanah had another wife, Peninnah, who had children (1 Samuel 1:2)
Peninnah was not a nice person to Hannah. The Scripture record that "her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable,  because the Lord has closed her womb ... therefore she wept and did not eat" (1 Samuel 1:6-7).  Yet Elkanah "loved her" (1 Samuel 1:5) and tried to compensate for her barrenness by giving Hannah extra provision.
The story of Hannah illustrates to us how God can bring good out ot our difficult circumstances by using those circumstances to draw us into greater dependence on Him. Our greater commitment to God, in turn, leads us to more TRUE WORSHIP.

The way Hannah dealt with her probelm illustrates the fact that she learned humility and commitment. Her "heart grieved" (1 Samuel 1:8) or, as we would say today, her heart was broken. Hannah was not merely a woman who was angry at her circumstances. Literally, the Hebrew word speaks of a heart that trembles out of uncertainty or fear. When Scripture says that Hannah "was in bitterness of soul" (1 Samuel 1:10), it means that she was in pained because of her heavy burdens. What did Hannah do? In the pain of her broken heart she vowed a vow to God.
"Then she made a vow and said,'O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life ...' " (1 Samuel 1:11).
Hannah willingly committed what she did not yet have to God's service. Put yourself in Hannah's situation. What if God did grant her request, as she fully believed He could? She was agreeing up  front to surrender the very thing she requested and wanted so badly! No selfish person would be willing to make such a vow! Only through an unselfish heart can we, like Hannah, truly display God-honoring humility. If our worship and requests are not rooted in humility, they will be rooted in selfishness.
By her unselfish request, Hannah demostrated her humble submission to God. This demostration was reinforced by her subsequent actions. "And she said, 'Let your maidservant find favour in your sight.' So the woman went her way, and ate, and her face was no longer sad" (1 Samuel 1:18). Her vow was not impulsive, frenzied outburst that left Hannah emotionally drained, wondering what she had promised God in the heat of the moment. Hannah was satisfied to make her commitment and trust God. This point is critical. Although her circumstances had not changed, she was satisfied to let God handle the matter as He saw fit. The next day, with a confident spirit, she and Elkanah "rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord" (1 Samuel 1:9).
Like Hanah, we too can offer God TRUE WORSHIP when we lay everything at His feet and are satisfied to let Him do with it what He wants.

The Scriptures recorded that Elkanah and Hanah worshiped at the tabernacle before returning home from the annual sacrifice. They came into the presence of God, in the manner He prescribed for them, and they bowed in humble commitment. In this case, God granted Hannah's request and personally intervened in her circumstances. Upon return home, "Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her" (1 Samuel 1:9). Hannah conceived and bored a son, and called his name Samuel, saying' Because I have asked him from the Lord.' " (1 Samuel 1:20).

As soon as the child was weaned she brought him to the temple in Shiloh and presented him there with these words: "For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord." So they worshiped the Lord there." (1 Samuel 1:27-28).
Let us note two phrases here: "The Lord has granted me ... I lent him to the Lord." The Lord gave her the child and she gave the child back to the Lord. The sum total of her request was for this child and when she had received all she had craved for, she gave ALL back to the Giver!
Hannah's offering can be truly written that she "WORSHIPED THE LORD." It is not the person who wants God's grace, but the person who wants God Himself, who can worship Him wholeheartedly! Hannah shows us what was supremely precious to her ... not the answer to prayer, not the grace given but God's way with her in the giving of His gift. God gave Samuel to her and she gave Samuel back to God; and as Samuel passed out of her hands into God's hands, WORSHIP emerged from her heart to God's heart.

Saturday, July 02, 2011


It is possible for us to be so concerned about the acts of worship, that we run ahead of the necessary steps of God requires as He leads His people to True Worship. In a sense, True worship is not an act but rather a natural response to foregoing knowledge or experience. In other words, whereas God's people can run hither and  yon trying to discover genuine ways to worship God, He would rather they obediently follow Him throughout the week  so that Sunday worship will be a natural expression of their relationship with Him.

We look into the Old Testament story of Gideon. God put a heavy burden on Gideon, though he lacked confidence about his ability to lead God's people. Since Gideon was weak in faith, he begged God to confirm His will by making a fleece wet or dry. God obliged and then instructed Gideon to fight a massive enemy army with only a handful of men. When Gideon was unsure, God told him to go to the enemy's camp in the middle of the night. Gideon OBEYED this seemingly strange requirement and, in so doing, learned an important lesson about God's power. His natural response was to fall down in WORSHIP and then rise and serve in CONFIDENCE!

Gideon was going through a very difficult time. As the Bible records in Judges 6, God had allowed the nation to suffer seven years of enemy occupation because Israel was in sin. The Israelites cried out, and God sent prophet to confirm His promise. Gideon was minding his own business, doing farm chores for his father, when "the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, 'The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor ... Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?' " (Judges 6:12-14)
We read of the progress of Gideon's faith through his obedience:
- He started out alone in faith protesting of his weakness but God assured Him (Judges 6:15-16)
- Then he began to asked God for a sign that it was God who was speaking to Him. God was gracious and gave Gideon a sign followed by a promise ("peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die." - Judges 6:17-24)
- Then Gideon obeyed God's further instruction to destroy Baal's altar. Although he received death threats God protected him (Judges 6:28-31)
- More importantly, "the Spitit of the Lord came upon Gideon." And the men of his town and tribe rallied to his cause, and messenger were sent to rally other tribes. (Judges 6:34)

Gideon was moving in the right direction. He obeyed God's command, then worshiped his Lord and was encouraged to start assembling an army. yet still lacking complete faith, he "put out the fleece" (Judges 6:36-40) so that God might give another confirming sign. God did so, and at the start of the events recorded in Judges 7. Gideon had amassed a host of twenty-two thousand soldiers. However God instrcuted Gideon to let the fainthearted go home and only ten thousand remain. But incredibly, God declared that "the people are still too many." So He proceeded to reduce the Israelite force to a mere three hundred men.  

At this satge, Gideon had no army at all, but only a small band of soldiers. Yet that situation was precisely the place God wanted His people to be  - in complete dependence on Him. Gideon knew what he was supposed to do. God had given him clear instructions: "Arise, go down against the [enemy] camp, for I have delivered it into your hand." (Judges 7:9). If Gideon was afraid to scout the enemy alone, God had told him he could take his servant along. But that very night God commanded Gideon to go "down to the camp ... and you shall hear what they say; and afterward your hands shall be strenghtened" for the ensuring contest (Judges 7:10-11)
Gideon obeyed and his OBEDIENCE was no small matter since "the Midianites and Amalekites" were mighty and numerous. (Judges 7:12). The odds seemed overwhelming, but Gideon trusted God. To his surpise, in the enemy camp Gideon learned that his foes were apprehensive about him! One soldier even had a dream that, through his symbols, depicted the Midianites' destruction by the "sword of Gideon," the man who had God on his side (Judges 7:14). Like Gideon, we will not experience God's encouragement until we trust Him enough to obey Him. When Gideon heard of the fear among God's enemies, he bowed in humility before his Lord.
"And so it was, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, that he worshiped." (Judges 7:15)
The text uses a Hebrew word - SACHAH that speaks of a servant or slave's lowering himself before his master. Thus most depictions of worship in the Old Testament show worshipers bowing or prostrating themselves in humble recognition of God. That recognition was often gained as it was with Gideon, through OBEDIENCE. THE ESSENCE OF TRUE WORSHIP results when God allows His servants to see His mighty power and realize their own meager state.
Gideon could worship God truly because he had learned some important lessons from God. But in order to learn those lessons, he first had to obey God and trust Him. In the same way, when we are living or acting in OBEDIENCE, we learn to trust God more. As we grow in that trust, He reveals to us His great power. And in glimpsing that power, we fall prostrate before Him and worship. Does that pattern describe the kind of worship we have today?