With Every Breath

Worship should be the foundation of our life in both attitude and practice.

Worship is a biblical word that’s difficult to adequately define. Like the exquisite perfume of a rose or the delightful flavor of honey, it’s more easily experienced than described. Yet the most important aspect of worship is not the human experience or expression but the object. We are told in Scripture to worship God only.

Let’s begin by reading Psalm 96:1-9.

According to hymnary.org, 211 hymns use Psalm 96 as the basis for their lyrics. Some of the best known are “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” “All People That on Earth Do Dwell,” and “Joy to the World!”

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. For great is the Lord 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. Splendor and majesty are before Him, strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory of His name; bring an offering and come into His courts. Worship the Lord in holy attire; tremble before Him, all the earth.

To help us gain a deeper understanding, let’s consider the following descriptions of worship:
• The overflow of a grateful heart that is inundated by God’s greatness and goodness (Psalm 145:1-21).
• The outpouring of a soul at rest in the presence of God, having the perfect assurance of His acceptance through Christ (Phil. 4:4-7).
• The occupation of the heart, not with its needs or even with its blessings, but with God Himself (Deut. 6:5-7).

Both the Hebrew (sagad) and the Greek (proskuneó) words for “worship” convey reverence, homage, adoration, and prostration. The English translation could easily be pronounced “worthship,” ascribing worth to one who is worthy.

“We can admire without worshipping, but we cannot worship without admiring, because worship is admiration carried to infinitude. In the same way, we can honor what we do not worship, but we cannot worship the one we do not honor.” —A.W. Tozer

Worship is our divine purpose now and throughout eternity. Of all the creatures on earth, only mankind is capable of worship, because we alone have been made in God’s image and designed to commune with Him. Psalm 96 is filled with descriptions of the Lord that prompt the psalmist’s praise. Again we see that the focus is entirely on exalting God.

Every experience, situation, or emotion can be turned into worship when we have a God-ward focus. Although emotions may prompt and accompany worship, they are not the goal. A deep awareness of sin, a humbling experience, fear and trembling, great sadness or loss, admiring awe, overpowering love, astonishing wonder, overwhelming delight and gratitude, or simply a yearning to know God more—any of these can lead us into worship.

Worship is expressed in a variety of ways. In today’s Christian culture, we sometimes define worship as music, but it’s so much more than that. Psalm 96 mentions singing, but it also includes speech—proclaiming God’s salvation, glory, and deeds—as well as bringing Him offerings. The manner in which we worship can also differ. It can take place in solitude or a group, with silence or joyful exclamations, or in service and self-sacrifice.

Worship is all about God. The deeper our understanding of God’s self-revelation in Scripture, the higher will be our worship. And since the Lord is holy, we must likewise worship Him in holiness. A lifestyle of sinful practices and attitudes makes worship hypocritical and useless. Since the goal of worship is to exalt and magnify God, we must also have a humble, submissive attitude.

Questions

• How would you define worship? Is your worship focused more on your experience or on God’s character?
• What attributes of God do you see in Psalm 96 that could prompt your worship?

 
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1 Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

2 Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.

3 Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.

4 For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.

5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens.

6 Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name; Bring an offering and come into His courts.

9 Worship the LORD in holy attire; Tremble before Him, all the earth.

1 I will extol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever.

2 Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever.

3 Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable.

4 One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.

5 On the glorious splendor of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.

6 Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts, And I will tell of Your greatness.

7 They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.

8 The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.

9 The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.

10 All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD, And Your godly ones shall bless You.

11 They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom And talk of Your power;

12 To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.

14 The LORD sustains all who fall And raises up all who are bowed down.

15 The eyes of all look to You, And You give them their food in due time.

16 You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing.

17 The LORD is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds.

18 The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.

19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them.

20 The LORD keeps all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.

7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

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