Summary: worship is simply defined in Psalm 150 by describing who we worship, how we worship, and who can worship
June 15, 2003 Psalm 150
Name this tune. “You put your right arm in, you put your right arm out, you put your right arm in, and you shake it all about.” It’s called the “Hoke Poke”. When I went back to Wisconsin for my sister in law’s wedding - they did it. It’s a very popular song because it’s very easy to learn. All you have to do is follow the instructions. Put an arm or leg in, shake it around, then turn in a circle. That’s what it’s all about.
Worship isn’t quite that simple. Even though the Psalmist tells us to praise God - it isn’t as simple as doing the Hoke Poke. Today, as we look at the last Psalm written - number 150 of 150 - the Psalmist takes us into this topic of worship - and how we really can praise our Triune God. So let’s take an in depth look at this Psalm of worship and see how -
The Last Psalm Explains What “Hallelujah” is All About
When Cain and Able made their offerings to the Lord - the first ones seemingly recorded in the Bible in Genesis 4, God noted that there was a difference between them. Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. Abel gave his “firstborn of the flock”, while Cain just brought “some of the fruits of the soil.” Here Abel was thinking to himself, “the Lord has given me this wonderful flock, and I can’t wait to give him an offering - to thank Him for what he’s done. So he took some of the firstborn of his flock. Meanwhile, Cain must have thought to himself, “well, I guess I can give God some of this wheat and barley. I don’t know what good it will do Him, but I’ll do it anyway.” And so how did God respond? “You can keep your offering Cain. If that’s going to be your attitude, I don’t want it.” It wasn’t in the content of the offering, but the motivation - the why - that made all the difference.
Motivation is everything when it comes to worship. You’ve got to have motivation to come here. It can’t be just because your parents are making you come. It can’t be just to make your spouse happy. It can’t even be just to fulfill what you think your duty to God is. Then we are nothing more than modern day Cains. God will listen to your mumbling of songs or your sitting in church and say, “why are you wasting your time? If you think sitting in that pew will please me and make me say, ‘oh, what a wonderful person you are!’, think again. If that’s the best you can give me, don’t even bother.”
Maybe you came to worship this morning for the wrong reasons - but don’t leave yet. I want you to listen to several reasons the Psalmist gives to come to worship - to the Halleluwhy. Maybe by the time you finish considering them, you might want to stay.
1.) The Psalmist first says, Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; The Psalmist tells us to praise the LORD. Notice that the letters are all in capitals. With this name, he was saying to the congregation - remember WHO you are worshiping. This is the LORD, who described Himself to Moses as the “compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Exodus 34) This LORD had always been there for the Israelites. He said to praise this LORD in connection to - in the sphere of the sanctuary. The whole concept behind that word tells us that God is someone who is set apart. Every time the Israelites approached God in the Tabernacle, they had to do it through a sacrifice and through a priest. They would put their hand on a ram, a goat, a sheep, or a bull - and slit the throat themselves. Then the priest would then take the blood of their sacrifice, and sprinkle it on the altar. The Israelites were ingrained with every sacrifice that God is holy - he cannot be approached by sinful people unless they are first cleansed. But when that sacrifice was made, the Israelites were assured - my sins are paid for. My LORD has forgiven me, for He will send a substitute to pay for my sins.
This is the key concept to worship. If we come to worship just thinking to ourselves, “I’ll throw God a dollar or a little song and he’ll be happy with me,” we’ve got it all wrong. You need to understand that God is set apart from you. When I went to Washington D.C. a year ago, I noticed that when I got to the White House there was a huge metal fence surrounding the White House. There were big white barriers and police officers all around. I couldn’t just knock on the door and expect George Bush to come out and say, “come on in.” It doesn’t work that way. So why should you think that you can just knock on a holy God’s door and expect him to come running to answer it? Your guilt and God’s law tells you differently. But when you come to worship and you realize that you cannot approach God as you are, that’s the first key. The second key is to know who the LORD is. Even though he is HOLY and set apart from us - he is also a God of COMPASSION and MERCY - who FORGIVES. Instead of punishing us for our sins, God wanted to provide a way for us to approach Him - through a substitute. Just as the Old Testament believers transferred their guilt to the animals being sacrificed, God would transfer the punishment of the world to a future Lamb of God - Jesus Christ. Why would God punish His only Son? Because our LORD is slow to anger and abounding in LOVE. Therefore, worship of the LORD is not a favor we are doing to God. It is a privilege for us to approach a holy God - because of HIS MERCY and FORGIVENESS!