Why do we worship God? There are many ways that individuals may answer this question, but the best way to answer it is through biblical models. When one understands what the Bible says regarding worship, it can help in preparation of worship before the Lord within the church.
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7, also in Deut. 15:7). This scripture is normally used when individuals are referring to the giving of money, but I would like to show another application of this verse.
God calls all believers to be givers of all of their self; their time, their finances, their talents, and we are to do that with the right spirit. When we come to worship it should be done with a cheerful and ready heart. God does not want us to come out of obligation or with the wrong spirit. “And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and will all your soul,” (Deuteronomy 11:13). Therefore, our worship of the Lord calls us to come giving cheerfully of our entire self, our hearts, mind and soul to the Lord, along with our talents and abilities. He also wants nothing else to be above him in our lives. We see that clearly when we look at the tabernacle.
I was able to obtain useful information from the website, www.the-tabernacle-place.com, from lesson 2: The Basic Layout of the Tabernacle and the Gate. In the study of the Tabernacle, we can glean some ideas of how we are to worship God. First, in the way the tabernacle was set up, we see where God wants to be in our relationship. The tabernacle was set in the midst of the camp and the Israelites’ tents all faced the tabernacle. When they came out of their tents in the morning, the first thing they saw was the tabernacle and the last thing they saw at night was the tabernacle. This reminds us that our Lord should be on our minds throughout our daily lives, not just on Sunday morning. He is the one we should seek in the morning as we begin our day and the one we should thank as the day sets. The tabernacle was also a reminder to the people of God’s presence was with them at all times. It is imperative that when we come together we are reminded of the importance of seeking God everyday of our lives. Worship within the church should also help us to understand this important fact, that we must worship God daily.
Another significant point we can glean from the tabernacle is the gate. The gate of the tabernacle was always in the east. This is important because as the people entered the gate they were always facing west, and the sun was always behind them. This was a direct opposition to the pagan sun worshippers of the day who always faced east (Ezekiel 8:16-18). God wants no other God before him, for he alone is worthy of all our praise. God then calls for worshippers to focus all on him when we come to worship. God does not want anything to take his place in the service of worship.
One of the last examples that will be used is the book of Psalms. From the book titled, Encountering the Old Testament, written by Bill T. Arnold and Bryan E. Beyer vital information is given to help an individual understand the usage of the psalms. The word psalm comes from the Greek word psalmos, which means a song or a hymn. The Hebrew word for the book is tĕhillîm and it means praises. The book itself contains 150 songs used in the life and worship of the people of God. These were songs that were dear to the people’s hearts and reflective of their personal experiences (304).
The psalms were written in different classifications. For example, there were some that were hymns. These were written to praise God and offer him thanksgiving for who he was and what he had done in the lives of the people. An example of hymns would be psalms 8, 136 and 150. There were also penitential songs. These psalms expressed sorrow for sin (example psalm 38). The other types of psalms are wisdom (general observations on life, especially God and our relationship to him), royal (focus on the king), messianic (describe some aspect of the Messiah’s person or ministry), imprecatory (call for God’s judgment against God’s enemies) and lament (lament one’s condition) (307). This helps us today to understand that in worship music has many different roles it plays within the service. Music should help the worshipper be reflective of their experience with God. It should help us express praise to God, our life experience and our walk with God. This is a good example of how much music plays a part in the worship service of believers and we should be free to use different styles to help with the worship service, just as the people did in early biblical times.
Why do we worship? We worship because scripture shows us it is a part of what God requires of believers in order to have a healthy relationship. We worship because God deserves our devotion and our adoration. We worship because God calls us to come fellowship with him with all of who we are, our hearts, minds, spirits and soul. When one is able to glean this understanding from biblical background, it helps the worship leader better prepare the people to come and worship in spirit and in truth.
Alden, Robert L., et al. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995.
Arnold, Bill T., et al. Encountering The Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999.
Lesson 2: The Basic Layout of the Tabernacle and the Gate. 2004. 05 March 2006. http://www.the-tabernacle-place.com.