Friday, December 2, 2022

Heavenly Worship (Psalm 138)

"I will praise You with my whole heart; before the gods I will sing praises to You" (Ps. 138:1).

In Psalm 138 David describes what it means to worship the Lord. He speaks of having a sincere heart, worshiping in holiness, directing his worship toward the holy temple. Just as the Old Testament believers looked to the temple, Christians today look to Christ. Acceptable worship only comes through the mediation of Christ, and in true worship Christ is praised and exalted above every other name.

In the midst of this declaration of praise and worship to the Lord, David mentions something of significant interest concerning worship. He says, “Before the gods I will sing praises to You” (v. 1). What could David mean by gods? Some commentators suggest that David is talking about rulers and kings, those in high standing. They maintain that David is expressing his boldness to worship freely before those who reign with earthly power and influence. Calvin, however, argues that the context requires gods to be interpreted as angels. He correlates this passage with 1 Corinthians 11:10 where Paul exhorts believers to worship properly because they are worshiping God in the presence of the angels. Some people think Paul is speaking of the everyday Christian life, but the reference to the presence of angels in worship signifies public worship, not private.

What is significant both in 1 Corinthians 11 and Psalm 138 about the angels? Both these passages remind us that worship of the Lord is spiritual in nature and that all of God’s creation, both in the earthly realm and heavenly, worship Him and give Him praise. When we gather for public worship, the visible church not only gathers together, but the church that is unseen and all the heavenly host lift up continuous praise to the King of heaven. When you gather with others to sing praises to the Lord and declare His Word in the assembly, you are part of an even greater assembly that worships before His heavenly throne. The angels are spiritual creatures, and so are you; when you gather for public worship, you worship in the spirit. Too often, we keep our heads and hearts buried in the earthly realm when we worship in public. We do not consider the heavenly nature of our praise. David and Paul, however, understood the significance of worshiping God, that it takes place not only before men, but before the entire heavenly host that extols His holiness forever.

Read 1 Corinthians 11:1–16. Who has ultimate authority in worship? What is the relationship between God’s glory and proper worship? How aware are you of the spiritual nature of worship? As you prepare for worship keep these thoughts in mind, and ask God to make you aware of the vast company with whom you worship.