by Rick Pidcock
Over the last century, American culture has gradually shifted from one of responsibility to one of entertainment. Our main drives in life are related to the movies, music, sports, and other recreational activities. Sadly, however, this mindset has also found its way into our church’s corporate worship services.
The root question is, “Who is worship intended for?” Is it intended for God alone, or for our enjoyment, or for the evangelization of the world? This question may seem to some like a superficial non-essential worship question. However, the Bible is filled with teaching on this question. And the answer that you give to this question will greatly shape the philosophy and style of your corporate and personal worship.Psalm 40:3 answers these questions as it describes the song of the worshiper. David says, “He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust the Lord.”
WORSHIP IS PRIMARILY FOR THE GLORY OF GOD
The primary purpose for worship is to glorify God. The theme of the new song in Psalm 40:3 is, “praise to our God.” Thus, the theme of true worship is ultimately about magnifying the supremacy of God. We must have the glory of God as the foundation of our worship.
Psalm 32:7 says, “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 33:2, 3 say, “Praise the Lord with the harp; Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.” Colossians 3:16 says, “singing…to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:19 says, “making melody in your heart to the Lord.”
Notice that the focus of all of these verses is on the Lord. Our worship is to be God-centered. God-centered worship praises Him for Who He is and for what He does.
WORSHIP IS THE OVERFLOW OF JOY FOR THE WORSHIPER
Psalm 40:3 says that while the theme of worship is, “praise to our God,” the expression of the worship is, “a new song in my mouth.” When God delivers us from trials, the result will be joy for us. Our joy is not to be our primary concern. But it is a natural result of a life transformed and consumed by God.
John Piper, author of the book Desiring God, perhaps put it best when he said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” When we pursue our sole satisfaction in Christ alone, and when He is our complete delight, then we will be abundantly satisfied.
Psalm 34:8, 9 say, “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man who trusts in Him. Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want in those who fear Him.” When our taste and sight are feeding on the food of God, we will always be satisfied.
Psalm 81:10, 16 say, “I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it…He would have fed them with the finest of wheat and with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you.” Once again, God says, “Pursue me because I am your glorious God! And when you do, I will satisfy you with the sweetest satisfaction that you can imagine.”
We must be careful not to use worship as a type of drug that gives us an emotional high feeling of “the presence of God.” But we must not be afraid of deep-seeded hunger and thirst for the satisfaction of knowing and magnifying Christ.
WORSHIP BIRTHS NEW WORSHIPERS
Psalm 40:3 then introduces the third emphasis in the beneficiary of worship. It says, “Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.”
New worshipers are naturally born from true worship. Our purpose for worship is not primarily to win others to Him. But as we glory in God through the new song of joy that He gives us, then true evangelism naturally happens.
We must remember that our primary goal in worship is not to look or sound like the world in order to win them. Our primary goal is to magnify the supremacy of God by faith through a new song of never-ending, overflowing joy. And as men see worship that is pointing towards God, their attention is drawn to God. And as they see God, they will fear Him for Who He is. They will tremble at who they are. And they will place their trust in God and become worshipers as well.
The beneficiary of worship is everybody. God is glorified. We are satisfied. And the world is saved. That is why having a proper perspective on the beneficiary of worship is so vital to experiencing true worship.
If we only look at the “God” part of the equation, then all we have is an impersonal declaration of doctrine that leaves us hopelessly lost. If we only look at the “us” part of the equation, then all we have is selfish indulgence. And if we just look at the “world” part of the equation, then we become nothing more than man-centered salesmen. We need to understand all three factors and how they relate to one another in the process of corporate worship.
So who benefits? Everybody.