For the Lord
Worship is constant. It’s a bit of a rant that Kasey and I have been on for the past few weeks. Worship is something that is so drastically misunderstood but incredibly common that we have found a driven purpose to explain the ins and outs of our modern corporate worship. Kasey covered in his past two posts about how worship is something so much more than simply songs. Much of the Biblical accounts of worship actually exist completely outside of and with no regard to song or music. So if Scripture focuses worship on the idea of constant life instead of song, why are our churches consumed with the idea that worship exists only within song?
I don’t want to admit it, but I would say that our current perception of worship is a bit of an epidemic. Listen to your worship pastor/leader next Sunday and listen to their language.
“Please stand as we enter this time of worship.”
“I really feel the Spirit here this morning.”
“Worship was so powerful this morning.”
While it may seem critical to pick out small little idiosyncrasies in language and question the theology behind them, you have to understand the role of the worship leader. They are leading the church, as the theological head for at least half, if not more, of the time in the service. And since the worship leader teaches more through song than speech, the few times that he speaks must be absolutely on point.
But recently at a contemporary church service, I began to question everything. I was singing the songs with everyone else, standing, and being just another worshipper that night but none of it made sense. All of my time leading worship in churches and studying it in Scripture, I never thought of the reason behind the why or the what we are doing in today’s churches. Why do we even sing songs? What Biblical foundation is there for singing songs? And if we are called to sing songs, why are we commanded to do so?
When struck with this question, I immediately went to the book of songs in the Bible: Psalm. In Psalms 95-98, we see nine direct commandments for us to either “sing” or “make a joyful noise.” Music was a very important part of the Old Testament church. In II Chronicles 29:25, we see God’s first direct commandment for music to be involved in worship. David is directly told by God to include instrumentals in his worship, and did he listen?! David’s reign over Israel was a musical fiasco that would rival our current musical output. David was the first one to use music as a way to pray and prophesize (I Chronicles 25:1-3) and even committed physical instruments to the Lord as His use (II Chronicles 7:6). When Solomon was building the temple and dedicated it, he filled it with musicians and was also the first king to make a choir.
So if singing songs is a commandment by God, the question then arises as to why He would give us that commandment. What is the point of singing songs? Back in Psalms 95-98, we see a very interesting wording that is typically found in Romans. David states a point, like in Psalm 95:1,
“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord…”
And then concludes that statement with an interesting Hebrew word: כּי (kı̂y).
“For the Lord is a great God…”
David continues this pattern in the following chapters. Every single time he gives a commandment of singing to the Lord, he follows it with a characteristic of why God is so great.
This little nugget of information reveals the most important part of worship. We excel so much at singing songs in church, a feat we should be slightly proud of, but have completely failed at understanding why. Songs in church should never become a memory, performance, or casual thing. This is the time that God has given us to reflect on His glory. If Sunday mornings are not the start of worship time, as they shouldn’t be, then Sunday mornings must be the continuation of that time. This is the time to reflect on the past week, consider the words of the song, and challenge yourself as to whether or not you are truly living them.
So try that this coming Sunday. Stop doing what you typically do and truly consider the words you are saying. If your life depended upon the validity of those songs you love so much, would you survive until the sermon? Would the pastor’s altar call even matter to you?