Psalm 34:1-3 (HCSB)
1 I will praise the Lord at all times;
His praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will boast in the Lord;
the humble will hear and be glad.
3 Proclaim Yahweh’s greatness with me;
let us exalt His name together.
These three verses that begin Psalm 34 hold the key ingredients to “lifestyle” worship. For the worshiper, there can be no greater goal than what is contained above. As congregational worship leaders, we have to be mindful of the things in our own personal lives that are required in order to be effectual in engaging others. I have found the following three components to be crucial in my own journey:
I. Unending Praise
Let our walk to match our talk. Our thoughts must be consumed by the notion that God can and should receive praise in all things. David says, “His praise shall continually be in my mouth” in verse one. This requires work, but the results in Sunday worship that is an overflow of what God has done in you all week. You can’t expect to get your tank completely filled on Sunday morning.
Worshipping In Spirit
It’s possible to develop a misshapen view of the way our lives are supposed to be lived with regard to worship. Worship includes and should involve singing, praying, giving, and exhortation from the Word of God- it’s more than the 20 minutes of music before the message on Sunday morning. We are exhorted, in verse 1 of Psalm 34, to praise “at all times.” There is a very real sense of “rightness” in our spirit when our hearts are continually and authentically engaged in worshiping the Lord. Worshipping in spirit is largely associated (in most folks’ minds) with our emotions, we should be mindful that emotional worship is kind of like a coke being poured into a glass—you can fill the glass to the top, but once the fizz is gone, your once full glass is now only half full. We need something more.
Worshipping In Truth
God’s Word brings the balance that we need. It is full of truth, and it is in no way puffed up. In Psalm 33, the psalmist says, “Your Word is solid to the core” (vs. 4). We worship in truth by reading and speaking God’s praises directly from His word. A better foundation in the Word deepens your knowledge of truth, and it also deepens your spirit worship. With deeper understanding comes deeper appreciation. The result is more heartfelt praise, and as you praise, you will find that the Word of the Lord is what you utter!
II. Unending Glory
In verse two, David makes it clear that he will boast only in the Lord. We ought to talk of the Lord’s goodness on purpose that others may be affirmed in their trust in a faithful God.” What else do we live for? We exist to give glory to God, and when we boast in the Lord, men are encouraged. A lifestyle worshipper demonstrates God’s faithfulness by both his words and his actions. Boasting of oneself sows seeds of resentment and bitterness. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather my life and testimony be places of solace and comfort for my brother than a thorn in his side.
III. Unending Exhortation
Finally, there is David’s exhortation to the people: “Oh magnify the Lord with me.” David is challenging the people to help him make God’s fame great among the nations. Acclaimed theologian Charles Spurgeon said, “Jehovah is infinite, and therefore cannot really be made greater, but his name grows in manifested glory as he is made known to his creatures, and thus is said to be magnified.” David wants to raise people’s faith in God, making the Lord greater in their hearts. He rallies the team by saying, “Let us exalt His name together.” This is our role in life and especially in corporate worship. We stand in the choir loft or on the platform with one intended message: We’re here to give glory to God, and you should do it too…in fact, let’s worship Him together…in spirit and in truth. We bring our personal worship experiences both in “spirit and in truth” to corporate worship, and out of the overflow we can pour out praises to God alongside one another.
As we look at the three verses together, there is a demonstration of deep love. David’s love for the Lord was deep. As we all know, it earned him the description, “a man after God’s own heart.” David also demonstrated a dedicated love for God’s people. I’m sure that as their leader nothing bothered him more than the possibility that they would stray from the Lord while under his care. I share this conviction. I pray that my church will find a passion for worshipping the Lord, and I pray that it will deepen with time. I pray that we can come together in unity and boldly proclaim who Jesus is, to the glory of God for all the world to hear!
Mark Willard has served as Worship Pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA for 13 years, working with Senior Pastor Michael Catt to develop a multi-generational, multi-cultural worship experience. In 2011, Mark joined the songwriting team at LifeWay Worship, and recently completed a new project, Jesus, Hope of the World, available at Lifeway.com. Mark has written and produced two other original worship projects, 519 and Fall Like Rain, numerous worship songs used at Sherwood, and the musical scores for Sherwood Pictures’ four films, Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous.