In my last post, the focus was about why we worship together. In this writing, let’s consider why the Psalms are still so important to our worship experience. In the coming weeks, our sermon series will focus on the Psalms: Worship Together—Focusing on Jesus.
Worship Together – The Psalms
The book of Psalms was the hymnbook of old covenant worship. The collection of 150 Psalms are poems, readings, responsive readings, songs and more which are divided into sections and written by multiple authors. Most of the Psalms were written by David, but Moses and Solomon were among some of the other authors.
These songs were used to
- cry out to God,
- ask for mercy,
- demand justice,
- coronate Kings, and
- declare the glory of God!
In truth, it is a textbook for corporate worship and its value is priceless.
But under the New Covenant we know that the “Presence” of God is not limited to a place or even a time. Acts 2 is the record of the birth of the Church and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on believers. Now the “Presence” of God is with His people not in a “temple built by human hands.” The bodies of believers are the “temple of Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor 6:19)
So, yes, people were free to worship in His Presence on their own wherever they desired!
Yet, we see that the practice of the early church was to meet daily “in the temple courts and in their homes” (Acts 2). Why? I think the reason is clear, there is something obviously different about gathering together in worship and it cannot be substituted with personal or individual worship experience.
There is no question that a personal worship discipline is important – even essential – but it is not a replacement for gathering with the people of God. The first church gathered regularly for “teaching, breaking of bread, fellowship and prayer.” (Acts 2:42) The writer of Hebrews encouraged early believers not to “neglect the gathering together” (Hebrews 10:25). All of this happened because we–the believers of today–need to be together in worship of the Lord!
When we gather together in worship we proclaim that the Lord is God and that He is “our” God. Psalm 1 & 100 trumpet the necessity of this practice. The need for that did not die with the institution of the New Covenant of Christ.
- Together we are the “Body of Christ” on earth.
- Together we experience His Presence in a way that is multiplied because we all come with our shared experiences and testimonies of His work and ministry in and through our lives.
- Together in worship of Him we encourage one another to faithfulness in our walk, healing of our sickness and strength in our battles.
- Together we proclaim to the world that God is and that He created the universe!
Primarily we need to gather together to worship God to be reminded that we are here for His glory. Psalm 134 even declares that our corporate worship is a “blessing” to Him! We literally bless the heart of God as we gather to exalt His name and declare our love for Him and our devotion to His mission on earth.
So, what about the Psalms?
What is the advantage of studying the Psalms for New Testament worship? I believe we need to study the Psalms for two reasons. First, they teach us the reason for worship. Second, they reveal the focus of worship. I have already stated the reason for worship – to exalt the Lord and to be encouraged as His people through our corporate gathering. But the focus of worship is Jesus!
The Psalms speak of the glory and majesty of God. They tell of His deliverance and love for His people. They speak of His judgment and wrath on His enemies and His mercy and grace for those who turn to Him. Every one of these promises and claims, each pronouncement and every prophecy is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. The one and only Son of God is the answer to every question and every lament. He brings fulfillment to every word of the Psalms. The Israelites saw these promises fulfilled through a King or the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…and they were correct but they never imagined Jesus. In truth, nothing prepares us more thoroughly to worship Jesus than the Psalms because He is the fulfillment of every line and every promise proclaimed in the corporate worship of Israel and every worship service of the church. Let’s worship Him . . . together!