Worship That Pleases God
Worship That Pleases God
2 Samuel 6
Thesis: Biblical worship must be characterized by balance
The problem with the first try at bringing the ark out was not the worship and singing and celebration, it was the ignoring of God's specific commands on transporting the ark. (1Chronicles 15:13-15)
Worship must be characterized by a degree of seriousness and sobriety in handling the word of God. Ecclesiastes 5:1-5 "think before you open your mouth.
The most important considering in worship is: what does God want? What does God think? This is for Him. He is the primary audience of our worship. How does he think? What does he feel? So giving serious consideration to God's Word, God's character and God's holiness when we worship is absolutely essential.
These dramatic events are mirrored in the NT. Worship for God must be characterized by reverence and respect. This is evidenced by studying 1Corinthians 11 and the Lord's Supper. He lovingly rebukes them for their carelessness in observing the Lord's Supper. We are reminded that when we don't treat the observance of the Lord's Supper worthily. When we carelessly approach the observance of the Lord's Supper and our attitude is not one that is as heavy or serious as it is then it is not worthy. That is why a person needs to examine himself. God helped them out by saying the reason some of you died recently is that your observation of the Lord's Supper was careless. You didn't take time to examine the Word of God and give it weight.
On a practical level, when it comes to public worship a lot of times not only we don't take it serious spiritually, but we do not take it serious practically. In the sense of seriously giving thought and plan, more often churches tend to wing it. When it comes to the planning and preparation of public worship it should demand great seriousness of thought. I don't mean "depressed" I mean we take it seriously. We plan we think we pray we work with other people. That is why I think we need to have a worship team. By worship team I don't mean two women and one guy with guitars and tambourines. I mean a group of men and women who are gifted, where there is thought and process and conversation, where there's creativity, where the whole process is taken seriously. So you actually plan.
Those of us who take preaching seriously, often make fun of the guy who opens his Bible to a random passage on Sunday morning and just wings it. He should be made fun of. Not only should he be made fun of, he ought to be promptly rebuked, because it really is a disgraceful disregard for God's Word. You ought to read and meditate and consult. By consult I mean look at commentaries, so there is a collaboration more than your or my little brain on the passage. This should be done with cohesiveness so that there is scope and sequence in preaching and teaching, rather than the topic of the day.
When it comes to all that happens in this auditorium on a Sunday morning, there ought to be Biblical integrity and there ought to be a practical integrity. There ought to be honor given to God through prayer, planning and collaboration, so that what results on a Sunday morning has been given weight. So it shouldn't be that only the sermon is carefully planned, because that is not where worship starts. Although in the NT there is a centrality to the preaching of God's word. It starts when you walk into the door. So there should be thought, and prayer, and research and collaboration given to the whole deal, from beginning to end. We should take the practice of worship seriously; God does.
In the beginning of this story, David didn't. Because He didn’t God was angry. There were a lot of people responsible. Obviously the priests knew, but they didn’t tell David. I don’t know if they were afraid of him. But the blame rises up in leadership, and rightly so. David just said, “I’m going to go do this; bring the ark to Jerusalem.” He was full of vim, vigor and himself. He was winning battles, he was all pumped up, and he was finally king now. He’s glorying in God’s blessing to him. What God said would happen, finally happened. It is easy to get carried away and just forget God’s regulations. I don’t think he intentionally disregarded God’s command. But because this public process of worship for the Jewish people was not taken seriously, and it was not characterized by respect and sobriety. And again “sobriety” just simply means that you have your whit’s about you not that you look like you are in a coma. We’re not talking about sober as in stoic, dead and unpleasant to be around. We are talking about eyes open, heart open, ready, aware and eager. So that’s the first half of the story. While we conservatives at times we need correction, rebuke, and encouragement to be sober about the process, the other side of the process is where we as fundamentalists tend to do worse. So let’s look at the second half of this story (Read verse 12-23).
Clearly, worship must be characterized by sobriety and respect, and clearly worship must be characterized by joy and celebration. I gotta tell you that I think most independent Baptists stink at this part. Look at some of these words here.
David worshipped the Lord with gladness (12). It means rejoicing, they made merry, they celebrated, they were beaming with happiness. Not religious “joy.” This morning while we were singing, was anybody beaming with happiness? You were serious, you were sober, that’s good. We got that down. I think we are really good at that, but we really fail at the positive side. This word was used when meeting a loved one. It is the genuine emotional response of “I haven’t seen you in a really long time, and I really love you!” But when you haven’t seen someone in a long time, maybe a soldier coming back from Iraq. Was anyone here happy as in meeting a loved one, as in getting great news? The word “gladness” was used when the children of Israel were about to be killed; were surrounded by the enemy and God delivered them. They were glad. So what does that look like? Worship is to be characterized by gladness, like when you get good news or great news! Like being released from prison. Completing the wall in Nehemiah. The joy of a wedding. That is how this word was used in the OT. That is how David felt, and it showed. When you sang this morning was there any flavor of that joy? Was there any response to the singing other than what every Baptist is allowed to say, “And all God’s people said: ‘Amen.’”
Even after David learned his lesson, his worship was characterized by exuberant joy and happiness that could be seen and felt. You didn’t have to wonder if they were happy or not. Worship must be characterized by joy and happiness.
Here’s one: David played in worship (5, 21). The root idea is to laugh, play, celebrate, make sport. It was used in Genesis 26:8 in the passage where they saw Isaac sporting with his wife. It is the word laughing, horsing around, interacting, visible expressions of joy and delight that included touch. David played in worship.
David danced before the Lord, literally to whirl about with vigor and enthusiasm. Here’s the idea. The most stoic person in the world, when overcome with joy, must move. This word was used of Miriam and celebration after crossing the Red Sea. It was a real spontaneous, out of the heart, physical expression of inner ecstasy. And no it wasn’t the waltz, and wasn’t whatever happens on Dancing With the Stars. That’s not what we are talking about, but we are talking about the physical expression, and sometimes it clearly was in cadence with and in harmony to the music and instruments that were being played. The bottom line is, if you can listen to glad glorious music and not move, you are not hearing what is being said by the message of the music or the words. David played, David was glad, David danced. Worship that pleases God must be characterized by emotion positive controlled by the truth and celebration.
ILL: Let me run a rabbit. If you don’t think that music is for your emotions, then you better go back and look at all references to music in the Bible. I was at a symphony performance on Monday geared for school children. The conductor played different parts to songs and guess what he did before and after every song? He talked about emotions. “What emotion did you feel after this song?” This is the emotion that you will feel during this song.” Music in worship is designed to touch the emotions. In fact, let me give you Martin Luther again from last week: “Music aids in the enlivening of the Word, so that it may intensify the Biblical text through melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic means. Striking the hearer in full force.” So on a Sunday morning, when it comes to the singing, and when it comes to the choir, and in your prayer, was there gladness? Is there celebration? Culture has a direct impact upon what celebration looks like.
“OK, we want emotion, we want celebration, but it’s OK as long as no one claps.” Oh wait, it’s in the Bible. Psalm 47:1 (KJV) “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.” What kind of a statement is that? Is that a question? No, it’s an imperative.
Now what I am not saying is that since this is a Divine imperative, we must clap all the time, but what I am saying is that since it is in the Bible, clapping is OK. Now when I am sitting in church and someone else is preaching and they say something good, I’m going to say something. But that really is not normal. That’s not what an unregenerate person who just found faith in Christ knows to do. They don’t know what to do when they are happy about what is sung or said, so they clap.
ILL: I didn’t grow up a clapper. I went to Bob Jones…A-amen, a-amen. I worked at the Wilds, where every week they lectured teens that you do not clap after special music. Then I went to a Southern Baptist Seminary. The preacher gets up and says something like, “How do you make it through troubling times, when you feel helpless? GOD IS IN CONTROL!” Clap, amen brother! It bothered me at first, because at Bob Jones, no one even said amen, unless they were singing it. However, culturally, in America, when someone says something that you are in hardy agreement with, what do you do? Clap!
The bottom line is if our services are not marked by a significant level of truth-based celebration then we are not worshiping God as He desires. Now I can understand why people might be uneasy with it, because originally I was uneasy with it. But my head says, “It’s OK.”
Some will say, “OK, as long as you don’t move.” When somebody moves during worship, that really is close to Biblical dance. What we are talking about is a genuine expression of physical joy. Some people raise their hands when they have Biblical joy. Some people pump their fists. God made us so that when we are really joyful, we move. We’re not robots. Psalm 149:3 “Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.” Psalm 150:4 “Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.” Psalm 30:11 “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;” So in the Psalms they glorified God in worship, in a way that pleased Him and they were moving while they were doing it. You had better be good with that, because it’s in the Bible and I even read the King James.
“So, were going to have to allow clapping, we can move a little, as long as you don’t use those instruments.” Why does plugging a guitar in make it evil and plugging in an organ doesn’t? Look back at 2 Samuel 6:5 it says that they praised God on “all manner of instruments” Psalm 149:3 “Let them sing praises unto him with all manner of timbrel and harp.” The word “harp” is the English word for lyre. By definition it is an instrument most akin to our guitar. So worship was with all kinds of instruments, and there was physical movement, and there was clapping, because they understood that when God speaks my heart ought to be broken, I ought to be serious, I ought to repent of my sin, and when God speaks I ought to rejoice in His grace, and I should say so. Not just with my mouth, but with my body, with my voice, with my emotions. And God is glorified in my reverence and sobriety, and God is glorified in my celebration and my joy. That’s what the Bible says.
Wednesday night we prayed about today’s service and I told the people that I don’t have an agenda. As I got to thinking about it, I really do have an agenda. My agenda is for you to see that there is more than one way to be expressive in worship to God. We don’t have to act like corpses on Sundays. We can clap, we can move, we can shout. God is pleased. I want you to see that there is no inherently evil instrument. Apparently the Israelites had a little rhythm, because they used cymbals and tambourines. You say, “Well pastor, those instruments were not used for bad in their culture.” What do you think the pagans used in their worship in Daniel? The same instruments. Does that mean that next Sunday there will be a drum set on the platform? No. But before you get into a self-righteous huff if the music isn’t to your taste, or someone claps for a special, or someone raises their hands, you had better check your opinion with the Bible.
Worship should be emotional. The expression of this emotion is pleasing to God. And God is displeased with those who deny the value of celebration. God was not happy with Michal. Her attitude was not pleasing to God. She felt that any kind of celebration was undignified, and unacceptable. She was wrong. Because our worship should be emotion and please God. If it’s not emotional it displeases God. Clearly our worship must be characterized by godly balance. Are you willing to let God speak to you about your imbalance? Are you willing let God change that? Are you willing to take steps to correct that? Not just say, “That’s the way I am.” Are you willing to do that even if they call you some really bad names? They are not bad names in anybody else’s book, but they are among independent Baptists. Are you willing to address the imbalance in your personal and public worship? I don’t know what your imbalance is personally, but I know what it has been for us as a church.