Summary: While I recognize that sometimes a church service can seem dull, especially to a non-Christian, I want to suggest this morning that true worship is anything but boring. The very essence of what worship is does not allow us to be bored. When we come befo
The Imperatives of Worship
I’ve always liked hearing oxymorons, or self-contradicting phrases. The word itself comes from “oxus” which means sharp and “moros” which means dull. Here are some of my favorites.
And, here’s another self-contradictory phrase: boring worship. That reminds me of the little boy who asked his mother if she could remember the highest number she ever counted to. The mother didn’t know so she asked him about his highest number. He answered, “5,372.” The mother was puzzled and asked him why he stopped at that particular one. The boy responded, “Well…church was over.”
In various surveys, when people are asked why they don’t go to church, they often reply that church is just too boring. While I recognize that sometimes a church service can seem dull, especially to a non-Christian, I want to suggest this morning that true worship is anything but boring. The very essence of what worship is does not allow us to be bored. When we come before the majestic God of the universe, who has created everything and has done amazing things in our lives, we can’t help but break out into adoration.
As we learned last week from Psalm 95, worship should always incorporate two elements: rejoicing and reverence. And, perhaps most importantly, worship must lead to a response. If we don’t respond, we risk becoming hardened before Him.
Before we jump into Psalm 96 this morning, I want to make a few introductory remarks.
1. It’s difficult to make divisions in this psalm because it’s really a seamless garment of praise, woven together to catapult us into deeper exaltation. I’m sure you got a taste of it when we read it together earlier.
2. Remember that this psalm follows the blunt indictment of the closing verses of Psalm 95. Since this whole section of Scripture, from Psalm 93-100, was sung as a majestic medley, we must be careful to not just pull out the parts and end up forsaking the whole.
3. This song of worship is based upon David’s anthem of adoration as found in 1 Chronicles 16, when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to its resting place. In fact, if you compare the two songs, you will find a lot of repeated phrases. The context of Psalm 96, however, covers the period of time when the exiles returned from captivity.
4. This psalm is really a grand missionary hymn. The psalmist reminds the Israelites that the blessings of God were never intended for only one group of people.
5. The call to sing songs and break out into praise is given in the context of Christ’s Second Coming and glorious reign. We sing not just because of the past and the present but because we know what’s coming in the future.
Before we get to the outline let me ask and answer some questions.
Who should be worshipped? The Lord God. He is mentioned by name or by pronoun in every stanza but verses 11-12.
What is worship? To worship means to “fall on your face or bow down” and is found more than 170 times in the Bible. We recognize our place before God and acknowledge His position before us.
How should we worship? With music (verse 1); with proclamation (verse 2); by giving Him glory (verse 8); by bringing an offering (verse 8); by coming into His courts (verse 8); by living holy lives (verse 9); and by witnessing for Him (verse 10).
Why should we worship? In verse 2, because God has saved us; in verse 4, because of His greatness and His fearsomeness; in verse 5 because of His power; in verse 6, because of His splendor, majesty, strength, and beauty; and in verse 13, because God is righteous and true and He is coming to judge.
Where are we to worship? We are to worship the Lord among the nations (verse 3); in His sanctuary (verse 6), and in His courts (verse 8).
When are we to worship? Verse 2 calls us to sing and proclaim His salvation day after day.
4 Imperatives of Worship
At the risk of breaking the flow of this holy hymn, I see four imperatives for us today:
Exalt His Name (verses 1-2a)
Extend His Kingdom (verses 2b-3)
Express His Greatness (verses 4-9)
Expect His Coming (verses 10-13)
1 Exalt His Name
The first imperative is to Exalt His Name. We see this in verses 1-2a: “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise His name.” We’re called in this passage to sing to the Lord three different times. When something’s repeated in triplicate its done to get our attention much like the “Holy, Holy, Holy” of Isaiah 6.