Summary: Psalm 96 gives us four ways to worship.
Ways to Worship
Rev. Brian Bill
August 15-16, 2015
Video: Psalm 96
Did any of you go to Tug Fest this weekend? Have you noticed that there’s a little bit of competition between Iowa and Illinois? As a way to settle which state is better, tug teams pull on a 2,400 foot, 680-pound rope that spans the Mississippi between Port Byron and LeClaire. I’m told that over 35,000 people attend this annual event. Do you know who won this year? Wisconsin.
Have you ever tried to do a tug-of-war with God? How’d that work out for you? We’ve seen how David wrestled with the Almighty in Psalm 42, only to give in at the end. Last week from Psalm 51 we saw that David moved from Conviction to Confession to Cleansing to Consecration to Contrition.
Some of you already read Psalm 63 in anticipation of the sermon for this weekend. Great job if you did. I decided to change it up because as I dove in I realized that this psalm is quite similar to other psalms we have already studied. In addition, I’ve sensed that the messages have been pretty heavy recently so today we’ll be in Psalm 96, which we just saw displayed on the screens.
This song of worship is very similar to 1 Chronicles 16, when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to its resting place. The context of Psalm 96, however, covers the period of time when the exiles returned from the Babylonian captivity.
4 Imperatives of Worship
At the risk of breaking the flow of this holy hymn, I see four imperatives for us today. An imperative is a vitally important and authoritative command.
• 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. God is mentioned by name or pronoun in every verse but 11-12. Look at verses 1-2a: “Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless 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.
Singing out to our triune God started way back at creation in Job 38:7 where we read that “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” There has been singing and shouting from the beginning of time and there will be more singing at the end of the age. Revelation 15:3 records the song of the Lamb: “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!”
Since the world was created with a symphony of joyful praise and all creation will break into song when Jesus comes again, we’re called to sing to the Lord in the meantime -- as we wait for His appearing. I love how much this congregation sings during our gathering times! In many churches congregational singing has been replaced with congregational staring. Let’s not ever let that happen here. For those of us without good voices, let’s keep making a joyful noise to the Lord.
On Friday morning I had the honor of providing the prayer for a WWII Veterans Recognition Breakfast at Friendship Manor. Grace Shirk and Kay Whitely did a great job heading up this 70th Anniversary event. Edgewood member George Shirk was one of the veterans that we honored. Let’s honor the world’s greatest generation right now! I sat next to a veteran who shared with me that his job was to transport soldiers from the Aleutian Islands to Seattle when the war ended. He told me that he can still hear their joyful shouts and singing! He said they rejoiced for over an hour when they were picked up and their voices could be heard from miles away. Oh, that we would have that kind of response to God when we worship!
Notice that we are to sing a “new song” to the Lord. This can refer to something that is brand new and can also mean, “delightful, precious and exquisite.” When something is new it is fresh. While I love singing songs I already know, I really like it when we learn new ones as well. We had a great mix today as we opened with a hymn by Charles Wesley and also sang songs by Casting Crowns and Mercy Me. BTW, I just heard that Mercy Me will be giving a concert at LeClaire Park in Davenport on Saturday, September 5th!
New hymns and new praise songs are essential to meet the ever-varying manifestations of God’s multi-faceted character. This expression “new song” occurs several times in the Book of Psalms indicating that fresh outbursts of rejoicing and reverence are important to God and helpful to us.