A Description of a Worshiper in Psalm 15
If we are going to ReFocus on worship, perhaps we need to define by what we mean by worship, explaining what it IS and what it is NOT. When you hear the word “worship” what comes into your mind? If we’re honest, we probably picture this sanctuary at 9:30 or 11:00, basically, the event that takes place in this room each week. Or maybe you might think about hymns, or a choir, or listening to the preacher for 30 minutes, or offering prayer, or a collection plate.
Worship is not just something in the church because we have all heard the phrase, “hero worship.” Maybe it’s your favorite athlete or actor. Maybe you’re a Swifty or a fan of some other popular musician or artist. People can become blinded by their loyalty to their chosen hero. It becomes hero worship when they are all-in with that person with a blind eye to their limitations or faults.
As far as an ACROSTIC for this week… here it is… TRUTH, taken from John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
T – Theology of Worship – Human beings are created to worship. Throughout the centuries, mankind will worship something, from the living God of Israel, to rocks, trees, the sun, the stars, the horoscope, or even possessions, or popularity, or pleasures, or position. All these things can consume our minds and our hearts.
The Old Testament regularly calls for God’s people to worship him…
Psalm 29:1–2 – Ascribe to the Lord, you angels, Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 2 Give honor to the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.
1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Philippians 2:9–11 – For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The purpose of the church, beyond serving the Lord and spreading the gospel, is to worship God through Jesus Christ. Here is a picture of the church…
1 Peter 2:5 – you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
In John 4:23–24, Jesus made it clear that the physical location of our worship is no longer relevant: “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23–24). True worship takes place on the inside, within our hearts or our spirits, WE are the dwelling place of God.
Why do we worship Him? Psalm 103:1–2 – Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; 3 Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; 4 Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Ephesians 2:19-22 – So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
Believers are temples of the living God, shining his glory.
When the Old Testament prophet Jonah said, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land” (Jonah 1:9, NLT), he was speaking of a lifestyle wholly dedicated to glorifying God. The apostle Paul also defined worship as an all-encompassing way of life: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).
Believers participate in specific acts of worship whenever they celebrate God’s worthiness and His greatness by giving honor and glory to His name. Worship can be expressed in words, shouts, singing, bowing down, raising hands, and many other ways. In Psalm 95:1-2, the psalmist urges God’s people to engage in acts of worship: “Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and let us sing him songs of praise.”
We’re talking about a theology of worship, (theology is literally, “words about God”). Here is a certain foundation, God is the object of our worship. It’s not about a place, like a sanctuary. It’s not about our attire, like wearing your Sunday best or a tie. It’s not about the equipment used in worship, like hymnbooks, choirs, or a pulpit. God alone is worthy of worship (1 Chronicles 16:25; Psalm 96:4–5). Worshiping God means acknowledging His absolute worth that He alone deserves. He is our Creator (Acts 17:28; James 1:17; Revelation 4:11), our Redeemer (Colossians 1:12–13; 1 Peter 1:3), and the Lord of all (Psalm 22:27).
A biblical theology of worship involves praising God and giving Him glory with our lips and with our lives; with our words and with our works; with our physical bodies and with our spiritual hearts. Worship that pleases God is authentic, offered with clean hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24:3–4; Isaiah 66:2).
So, the T is all about a Theology of Worship. The R in TRUTH is for…
R – Righteous Behavior – what we say or believe must be backed up with what we do and how we behave. If not, our faith is just a game we play at certain times during the week. Psalm 15:1-5, (along with Psalm 24) may have been inspired on the occasion of moving the ark to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:12-19). Or the psalm may have expressed David’s deepest thoughts when he was in exile and was deprived of worshiping in God’s house.
The upright man of Psalm 15 is a complete contrast to the fool of Psalm 14 (in heart, word, and deed). The foolish person of Psalm 14 had forsaken the Law and the Lord, while this group in Psalm 15 is a remnant that kept faith alive in the nation of Israel (Malachi 3:16-18).
David’s Worship (15:1)
- A Pilgrim Worshiper – Who may abide in your tent or tabernacle? This language is similar to the tent of meeting during the Exodus. God met with his people for worship and sacrifices. For us, this is a real reminder that our worship can be on the move, wherever you are. All over the world, you can find God’s people and worship together. This also deals with the universal church, which are all believers who are united in Christ.
- A Permanent Worshiper – Who may dwell on your holy hill? Eventually, the transient Israelites found their capital city, the City of David, and worshiped on a holy hill, called Moriah. It was this same location where Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his one and only son Isaac, as a test of his faith. For us, there’s something to be said about gathering in a specific location on a regular basis. This is your local community of faith.
David’s Walk (15:2-4) – He who walks uprightly; who walks with integrity. This psalm helps us to see the connection between what we believe, what we do, and how we behave in public life. They say that integrity is all about “being the same person even when no one else is watching” … but we must always remember that someone is ALWAYS watching!
- His Works (15:2a) – He works righteousness.
- His Words (15:2b-4)
- Secret Words (15:2b) – … He speaks truth in his heart.
- Spoken Words (15:3-4)
- Restrained – He does not backbite or slander with his tongue.
- Righteous – He does not do evil to his neighbor.
- Responsibility – He does not take up a reproach or cast blame against his friend.
- Respectful – He despises a vile reprobate person but honor those who fear the Lord.
- Reliable – He swears to his own hurt and does not change.
David’s Ways (15:5)
- They Were Fair (15:5a) He doesn’t change interest on a loan nor take a bribe against the innocent.
- They Were Fixed (15:5b) He who does these things will never be moved.
This psalm helps us see a picture of a true worshiper whom God accepts into his sanctuary. But then, we come to the U in TRUTH…
U – Unacceptable Worship – Not everything we offer up to God, and we call worship, is acceptable worship to God.
A biblical theology of worship is concerned with the true worship of God.
True biblical worship must be reverent (Hebrews 12:28).
We must understand who is being worshiped. God is holy, just, perfect, powerful, loving, etc. On the flip side, we are sinners saved by grace, and we come before our holy God on the basis of our Redeemer, Jesus.
There is no room for pride in adoration (see Luke 18:9–14). If we feel we deserve being in his presence, it is a sure sign that we have missed the mark.
Those who wish to worship biblically must worship God as He is revealed in Scripture. Unbiblical views of God must be rejected.
Here are a few verses of unacceptable worship:
Hebrews 12:28 – Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire.
Genesis 4:4-5 – Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.
Matthew 15:7-9 – You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: 8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. 9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”
And, we should beware of casting judgment based on another group’s style or preference or worship expression. That would be ok if you are the object of worship, but since you are not, how dare anyone say that God is not pleased with that type of offering or sacrifice of praise. Because it is different than yours.
The second T in TRUTH is for …
T – True Worship (John 4:19-24) Did you know that we can worship in ignorance? You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. (John 4:22).
WHAT or WHO does God seek? The lost? Converts? Disciples? Missionaries? Laborers? According to John 4:23, But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. The Father seeks worshippers. So, what is a worshiper? What does a worshiper do? What does a worshiper look like?
We must know the endgame at the beginning or else we may only develop into a worshiper by accident, or we’ll miss the target all together. Look back at Psalm 15. It helps us see how a worshipper acts. Here are a few verses that support the need for Holy Spirit inspired transformed behavior:
Ephesians 4:1 – Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
Philippians 1:27 – Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
Colossians 1:10 – so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
1 Thessalonians 2:12 – so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
1 John 2:6 –the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
1 Peter 2:21 – For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.
The point is that worship is way more than gathering here on Sunday believing that if I do, that’s all God wants from me. We need to know the truth, because in reality, ignorance is NOT bliss. God knows who’s serious about their faith and who is going through the motions.
There is only one way to renew our minds, and that is by the Word of God. This book is the truth. This book reveals the Truth, Jesus our Lord and Redeemer. To know the truth, to believe the truth, to hold convictions about the truth, and to love the truth will naturally result in true spiritual worship.
And finally, the H in TRUTH is for…
H – Hymns and Spiritual Songs – What were the ingredients of worship that we find in the New Testament? In the first century church, on any given Sunday…
They Observed the Lord’s Supper – On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. (Acts 20:7),
They Offered up Prayers – What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. (1 Corinthians 14:15),
They Sang Songs to the Glory of God – speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; (Ephesians 5:19)
They Took Up a Collection – On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. (1 Corinthians 16:2)
They Read the Scriptures – When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea. (Colossians 4:16)
They Proclaimed the Word of God – On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. (Acts 20:7, until midnight I might add).
When we talk about worship being a lifestyle that includes transformation of the mind and the body; it is more than simply keeping the rules.
We know that the rabbis had 613 commandments to obey if they wanted to be righteous; sort of a fence around the Law to keep us from breaking God’s Top Ten. Moses ben Maimon (AD 1138–1204, commonly known as Maimonides) compiled a list. (His tomb is in Tiberias, on the western Sea of Galilee).
In Psalm 15, David lists 11 things that is practiced by a true worshipper of El-Shaddai, (God Almighty).
Isaiah 33:15-16 cut that list down to six, very similar to what David records in Psalm 15.
Micah 6:8 brings it down to 3. 1) To act justly, 2) to love mercy, and 3) to walk humbly with your God.
Habakkuk 2:4 brings it down to 1, the righteous will live by faith.
Where are you on this continuum of worship and lifestyle? What changes do you need to make? How must your life be transformed by the renewing of your mind and the modification of your behavior?
True worship is not confined to what we do in church. True worship is the acknowledgment of God and all His power and glory in everything we do. The highest form of praise and worship is obedience to God and His Word. To do this, we must know God; we cannot be ignorant of Him (Acts 17:23). Worship is to glorify and exalt God—to show our loyalty and admiration to our heavenly Father.
Let’s pray about it.