November 03, 2009

Survival Worship

Recently, some churches have stopped meeting together due to a flu epidemic quarantine in Ukraine, which has taken the life of dozens of people so far in the country. It seems worshiping God can be a life and death issue. This is true in more ways than one. When people refuse to worship God and worship other things instead, God lets people have it their own way and a gradual process of death and decay sets in. This is true on a personal level and also in terms of society. Romans 1.21,24 shows "...when they knew God, they glorified him not as God...Wherefore God also gave them up..."

David learned that worship is a matter of life and death when he and the Israelites were bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:10-23). They didn’t take the time to read the law regarding how to carry it and just ended up using a big wooden cart, maybe because they thought it would be faster and easier. But, to make a long story short, one of the men operating the cart, Uzzah was killed in the process when the ark slipped and he tried to steady it with his hand. It was a serious thing to touch the ark, the resting place of the glory of God.

It was only after Uzzah's death that they studied the scriptures and the appropriate method for carrying the ark. The correct method was to cover it and carry it on poles on the shoulders of Levites (Ex 37.5, Nu 4.5-6, 15). This was a much slower method and ended up being even more drawn out because David decided to stop and make sacrifices and worship God after every six paces. Once the ark was finally in the city, David danced with exuberance before the Lord. This account shows that God’s presence and glory and brought in through worship and there is the definite idea that you don’t want to rush worship. It shows that great joy is known as we practice worship regularly. It’s also interesting that they walked six paces and rested as they worshiped. This highlights God’s Sabbath pattern, in terms of six days of work and a day for rest and a special focus on worshiping God. In my life recently I have noticed how when my worship slipped a kind of death began to set in. I lost my sense of vitality and freshness in God. After repenting and putting worship first again in my life, the Lord gave me many new worship songs which I want to record.

David's Survival Worship

When you look at David's songs in their totality, you can see that God meant everything to David. There were many times David experienced deep emotional low points; as a fugitive from Saul (Psalm 57), after Sheba’s revolt and the following 3 year famine (II Samuel 20,21, pertains to Psalm 25), after his sins with Bathsheba and Uriah (Psalm 51), and after he was usurped by his son Absalom (Psalms 3, 141), who ended up dying. It's important to note that these accounts are actually in song form. David worked through his difficult times by worshiping God. Tough times are bitter sweet because, on the one hand, they aren't pleasant but on the other hand, God can give inspiration, comfort and sweet songs to help to get us through.You cannot realize God is all you need until God is all you have. I've noticed in my life some of the songs people appreciate most are the ones God gave me when I was going through a very tough time. These are songs I believe God gave me in order to survive, to make it through a valley.

David's One Song

It is believed that King David wrote at least half the Psalms listed in the Bible. While most deal with the subject of worship, some describe such subjects as Old Testament legalism and vengeance (3rd, 18th, 94th Psalms). Why is it then that David is called “The sweet Psalmist of Israel?” (2 Samuel 23:1) Well, ultimately, according to David's own words, he was really a man of only one song and it was a sweet one. Psalm 118.14 says “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” His Psalms reflect the reality that life is tough but God is good. The Goodness of God, God’s sweetness, was something David was in touch with. In Psalm 34, after pretending to be insane and then fleeing from Abimelech, David wrote “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” (34.8 NIV). Most of us won’t have the kinds of trials David went through but we can have some pretty difficult ones. Like David, we can meditate on the reality of God’s goodness, as we learn to trust Him in all things.

A Heart of Worship

For me, David’s life is encouraging because he was called “A man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13.22) even though he sinned greatly and made many mistakes. It says he was called this title because God said of David he would “obey all my will.” God, of course, knew David would sin greatly, so what does this mean? The main contrasts between David and Saul, David’s predecessor, are that David had a heart and a desire to worship God and to obey his will, even though he slipped up. For Saul, on the other hand, his heart never really seemed to be fully devoted to God’s glory or His will. Jesus summed up the greatest commandment of all as this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12.29). The cool thing about obeying this commandment is that we experience God's love in the process. The Psalms help us to really get into the worship mode. They are spiritual food more to be digested than dissected. Have you had a taste lately?

Is God your main song? If not, maybe it’s time to change your tune. If you are a believer, is worshiping God a top priority, even though it may be inconvenient for your schedule? Has worshiping God helped you to survive some tough times?

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