It’s captivating to read through the Psalms and see the variety of ways in which David worshipped. When we pause to ask ourselves what we are doing during our worship times today, we are often faced with several questions. How do we worship? What are we able to do and still be reverent before the Lord? What is God’s desire for our worship? Does God give us the right to pick and choose how we worship?
The Psalms have given us nine different expressions of worship, and these expressions stem from David’s desire to worship the Lord wholeheartedly and without reservation. Oddly enough, these expressions are not foreign to us, but we fail to practice them in our corporate worship for one reason or another.
Listed below are the nine expressions of worship that we will focus on in this article. They can be broken down further into three physical expressions.
The Spoken Voice
1. Speaking – Psalm 34:1 says, “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”
2. Shouting – Psalm 27:6 says, “Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.”
3. Singing – Psalm 47:6 says, “Sing praises to God, sing praises to our King, sing praises.”
1. Bowing – Psalm 95:6 says, “Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”
2. Standing – Psalm 119:120 says, “My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws.”
3. Dancing – Psalm 149:3 says, “Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.”
1. Playing Instruments – Psalm 33:2, 3 says, “Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.”
2. Clapping – Psalm 47:1 says, “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.”
3. Lifting Hands – Psalm 63:4 says, “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.”
None of these expressions of worship are foreign to us. They may be foreign to our present worship experiences, but not to our culture. When there is a wedding and the bridal march begins, what do people do without thinking twice? They stand in honor of the bride and groom on this special day. When a man asks a woman to marry him, he gets on his knee to propose to her. Why? Because he wants to show her that this is an important event and that she is being honored as someone very special. Dancing plays a part of our culture in that it expresses celebration, intimacy, and individuality. We clap with enthusiasm for everything that pleases us. Musicians will play their instruments for hours on end with no one listening. Speaking doesn’t need to be mentioned at all. Have you ever been to a ball game where the parents of the players were present? If so, you’ve experienced shouting at it’s best. Singing is done by the talented and untalented alike, and is often done in cars, showers, and on stage. We are a musical people. Lastly, we look at lifted hands. In sporting events or competitions we see this quite often. Whenever a player scores a basket or touchdown the hands go up. It a natural response to an amazing task performed.
Why share all this? We know it, right? Yet, we fail to exercise all these in public worship. David used these expressions because he wanted to worship God with his entire being. His heart was to worship the Lord with everything he had, and he held nothing back in his worship. He wanted to share with us his heart and desire to worship, and he wanted us to enjoy pleasing the Lord through God’s creation…our bodies and souls.
What else can we learn from David? He not only practiced these expressions regularly, he didn’t really care what others thought about it. Even his own wife thought he was nuts and yet, God thought enough of it to call him “a man after His own heart”. Who is our audience? Who is it that we are trying to please in worship? It better be God. Is He pleased with our worship? I hope He is with mine.
I challenge you to seek the Lord in these expressions. Ask Him what He would have you do in your times of worship. Is your heart moved to dance before the Lord and yet you choose to sit? Are you moved to get on your face before the Lord and yet stand because you are afraid of what the person next to you will say? Remember worship is not about you, and it’s not about imitating your neighbor. It’s about letting the Lord lead you to worship Him in a manner that He desires and that we need. What benefit could we possibly gain from kneeling before the Lord? How about humility? What could be gained from shouting to the Lord? How about boldness to speak His name in public? What could we learn about lifting our hands to the Lord? How about submission to Him? James 4:6 tells us, “But He gives us more grace. That is why the scripture says: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'”
Let us always seek to grow in our worship to the Lord. May we ever allow His spirit to move in us as He directs our actions and responses in worship. After all, it’s about Him and for Him. What we receive is a heart of humility, grace, and reverence before the God who saved us from sin to be His children forever.