Glorifying and Singing the Awesomeness of God
In coming to terms with the importance of understanding the nature of God and how His otherness and nearness work together for our good it again can seem like this is the kind of thing only the minister and other theologians need to think about. Yet, the goal of today’s prayer and worship help is going to be to encourage and explain why it is central to your faith to know these things as well. We miss out on so much of life by either lacking the fortitude or the self-confidence to seek it out. You can benefit from deeper thought. It is worth the brain cramp.
As we thought about how the immanence and transcendence of the Lord brought peace and strength to Hannah I know some folks read stories in the Bible almost like comic books. In saying that I don’t mean they don’t believe it’s real, but in that they treat the characters in the Bible as if they were superheroes. In other words as if Hannah or Esther just had more “grace” then the rest of us. But that is simply not the case. Even Jesus Christ who was very God of very God grew in His knowledge of His work by using the same tools we have access to: prayer, the Holy Spirit, and the Word. He didn’t have it downloaded into His brain as Neo did when he was taught kung-fu in the Matrix. The Scriptures tell us that our Lord learned this stuff at church, at home, and as His parents walked with Him among the highways and the byways. Our fear, I fear, of really digging into the meat of the Bible is because we are satisfied with milk. And sometimes I don’t even think that is really the crux of the matter. It comes down to our desire to know God. If we know more about our favorite TV show or sports team than we do our Creator then what does that say concerning our love for Him? Should we not seek a deeper relationship with the one who gives life, than those who merely use the common benefits of humanity to entertain us?
The first seven verses of Psalm 145 (Bible Song #301 for you ARP’s) provide for us a template to think through this challenge. It helps us to see what David (a sinner just as much as us) considered a good way to be reminded why this habit of learning and why it is worth his and our time:
I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works. Men shall speak of the might of your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness. They shall utter the memory of your great goodness, and shall sing of Your righteousness.
He begins with a reminder of who God is and why He’s worth the effort. Jehovah is King, and He is forever and ever, and He is great and good, for His mighty acts testify to these truths. Each of those identifiers have meaning behind them. When we say that the Lord is these things it is important for us to not just be exclaiming slogans or words we’ve just heard. For instance in the last verse I quoted there is a notation that David sang these truths, and not by himself. The Psalmist declares that men shall speak and that they shall utter. Corporate singing in the congregation of the people is a means by which we are being taught, but teaching which is merely formulaic or rote misses the joy possible in a voice tied into the heart. Just as you can tell a big difference between a singer who is talented, yet lacks soul, and a performer who owns the track, I believe the background of our weakness in singing in the church today belies a lack of faith with understanding. When we hear a pop song which is meaningful to us we have no trouble sinking our emotional teach into the lyrics and movements. So why when we sing Bible Song #301 do we act as if we are repeating the directions for putting together our Big Lot furniture? Worse yet, why do some folks not sing at all? They are glad to belt along with Steve Perry or Katie Perry but when it is the sweet psalmist of Israel, cat got their tongue.
It all comes back to what we began with, and that is not desiring or hoping for a deeper conception of what it means that God is ever present and our help in every distress. They are fine with keeping the Lord at a distance, satisfied with what they think they know. We often use the word picture concerning marriage in Ephesians 5 to talk about our relationship with Christ. If you love your wife you want to know of her, and know her. The same is true of the author of eternal life. The more we comprehend His person and work, the easier and more heart-filled will be our worship, that is of course if we actually want to worship Him by more than just being physically located inside the four walls of the sanctuary on the Sabbath Day morning and evening. But why?
In closing, there’s a two-fold thing going on that touches on what we have already discussed, especially last Thursday in the Larger Catechism lesson. Knowing God means knowing your sin. Knowing God more deeply reveals how dirty and unclean we are, and our transgressive pride doesn’t want to admit that. However, it is in knowing ourselves more that we see the bounty and beauty of the love God has for us, even as the ungodly, for those are the kind of people for whom Christ died. As we confess and discern His grace and mercy to us, we do so only in the context of knowing God as He is. Our heart will show our faith, and in light of that we only can benefit from imbibing more into our soul of the great and glorious blessing of who our God is, and who He will always be in power. (John 17:3).
Here’s a word more:
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church