OAKRIDGE BIBLE CHAPEL

A Call To Worship Our God the King (Psalm 96:1–13)

Worship is a central tenet, activity, posture, and goal for all believers. As one author has suggested, “Christian worship is the response of God’s redeemed people to his self-revelation that exalts God’s glory in Christ in our minds, affections, and wills, in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

However we define and articulate this important concept, one thing must be clear: ultimately, worship is not about us—it’s about our God the King. Worship starts with God and responds to revelation from God. It’s directed at God in ways appropriate for God. Worship is empowered by God, brags about God, and is offered by those who belong to God as they’re drawn toward God to be made more like God. Worship is not about us. It’s about him. It’s our response to his beauty and mercy, his integrity and activity, his transcendence and his nearness. And Psalm 96 calls us to that type of worship, reminding us who we’re to worship, why we’re to worship, and how we’re to worship.

SERMON MANUSCRIPT 

What is worship? Many definitions have been offered over the years.

For example: to worship is “to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open up the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.” That’s comprehensive!

Here’s another: “Worship is communion with God in which believers, by grace, centre their minds’ attention and hearts’ affection on the Lord, humbly glorifying God in response to his greatness and his word.”

Or how about this: “The inner essence of worship is to know God truly and then respond from the heart to that knowledge by valuing God, treasuring God, prizing God, enjoying God, being satisfied with God above all earthly things. And then that deep, restful, joyful satisfaction in God overflows in demonstrable acts of praise from the lips and demonstrable acts of love in serving others for the sake of Christ.”

One more: “Christian worship is the response of God’s redeemed people to his self-revelation that exalts God’s glory in Christ in our minds, affections, and wills, in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

However we define and articulate this important concept, one thing is clear: ultimately, worship is not about us; it’s about our God. Worship starts with God and responds to revelation from God. It’s directed at God in ways appropriate for God. Worship is empowered by God, brags about God, and is offered by those who belong to God as they’re drawn toward God to be made more like God.

Worship is not about us; it’s about him. It’s our response to his beauty and mercy, his integrity and activity, his transcendence and his nearness. And Psalm 96 calls us to that type of worship, reminding us who we’re to worship, why we’re to worship, and how we’re to worship.

WHO WE’RE TO WORSHIP

There are some tough passages in the Bible, sections that seem cryptic and complicated. Psalm 96 is not one of them. It’s clear what the author wants the reader to do: worship God! That’s who we’re to worship. 

“Sing to the Lord, sing to the Lord, sing to the Lord; bless his name, tell of his glory; ascribe to the Lord, ascribe to the Lord, ascribe to the Lord; worship the Lord.” There’s calls for rejoicing and proclaiming, roaring and fearing, offering, exalting, and calling. Psalm 96 is a call to worship God. And it’s not only Israel being called, but “nations,” “all the peoples,” and “families of the peoples.” Every person on earth is being invited to declare the worthiness of God.

But, to the author, that’s still not enough praise and so he invites the voices of “all the earth,” “the heavens,” “the sea … and all it contains,” “the field … and all that is in it,” and “the trees of the forest.” God deserves all worship and all his creation will be the faithful choir. As the hymn says, “This is my Father’s world / And to my listening ears / All nature sings, and round me rings / The music of the spheres. / This is my Father’s world: / I rest me in the thought / Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas / His hand the wonders wrought.” 

Psalm 96 is a call to worship God. But not just any god. The psalmist knows that people worship all sorts of things. [96:4] In the Bible people worship Pharaoh and Caesar, angels and prophets, apostles and objects.

And it’s the same today: people revere politicians and celebrities, artists and athletes, intellectuals and ideologues. We enslave ourselves to and are impressed by money and reputation, resumes and power, productivity and personalities. If humanity has a superpower it’s that we’re able to create idols out of thin air.

Psalm 96 recognizes this and mocks us for it. [96:5a] The Hebrew word for “idols” means futile or worthless. In other words, all other gods are pathetic smoke and mirrors, laughably powerless. It’s a joke that they’re adored. In contrast, [96:5b]. The psalmist is saying “only a fool would worship so-called gods instead of—or even in addition to—the true God. It’s stupidity of the highest order. Sing to the Lord, Israel. Ascribe to the Lord, all people! Tremble before him, O creation. Worship God.

It’s all about him. That’s why, before we begin on a Sunday, those leading gather on the platform to pray: “Lord, magnify yourself this morning. May we, your servants, fade that you, our Sovereign, may shine.” That’s why, when we gather as a church, we read about him, pray to him, commemorate him, learn of him. That’s why we sing about him and to him: “beautiful one, I love; beautiful one, I adore,” “behold our God seated on his throne, come let us adore him.”

Corporate worship is supposed to fill and lift the minds and hearts of the saints to him to the extent that what we do here reverberates throughout the week as we scatter from this place. It’s all about our God. He’s who we worship, honour, revere, adore, and celebrate.

WHY WE’RE TO WORSHIP

But does he deserve it? That’s where we want to turn our attention next, from who we’re to worship to why we’re to worship.

The first reason we’re to worship God, according to Psalm 96, is because of his person. It’s because of who he is and what he’s like. Just listen again at how the author describes God in this psalm: he’s “glorious and great, full of splendour and majesty, strong and fearful, faithful and beautiful.”

When we’re confronted with the reality of God’s perfection, there should be a response. It’s like if you’ve ever had something beautiful take your breath away: the northern lights, a child’s first steps, a bride walking down the aisle, hearing Handel’s Messiah, or seeing the Grand Canyon. The scale, significance, and wonder of those realities causes an involuntary response of awe, doesn’t it?

Psalm 96 reminds us that, while we can’t now know God fully—he’s too wonderful for us to comprehend—we can know him truly and, as we grow in our knowledge of his person, he should take our breath away and move us to worship.

Secondly, we worship God because of his work. More specifically, what he’s done in the past, what he’s doing in the present, and what he’s promised to do in the future. 

Looking first to the past: [96:2] God has saved us, delivered us from darkness, has he not? As brutal as this life may get, are we destined for eternal bliss because of the grace of God in the salvation he provided through his Son when we believed? Yes! Proclaim that good tiding!

But it isn’t only salvation that God has done. [96:3] God’s wonderful deeds surely include salvation but they aren’t limited to it. Has God not provided for us, led us, protected us, and comforted us? Of course he has. Perhaps the most amazing wonderful deed is found in [96:5b].

Why worship God? Because of what he’s done—saving, helping, and creating. Proclaim it! Tell of it! Praise him for it!

What about his work in the present? Well, for starters, he’s the King. [96:10a] He’s the Sovereign who governs all things. And under his impeccable rule, he is sustaining creation as he promised he would. [96:10b] He made it before, and he sustains it now.

Do you ever look around the world and wonder why God doesn’t just wipe it out and start over? It’s because he promised not to. God is worthy of worship because he has saved, helped, and created in the past, and because he is reigning and faithfully sustaining in the present. 

But the future may be the most praise-inducing direction to look because God has promised to establish perfect justice. [96:10c] Anyone here ache to see perfect justice established on earth; to see the guilty—known and unknown—exposed and punished, and the righteous rewarded and vindicated? It’s coming.

[96:11–13] Creation is called to worship because creation itself will be restored when our God and King returns to make it happen.

Why are we to worship God? Because of his person and his work. Because of what he’s like and because of what he has done, is doing, and will do. It’s because of who God is—loving and gracious—that he sent (in the past) his Son, Jesus Christ, who died for sinners and rose from the dead. It’s because of who God is, merciful and wise, that he offers eternal life to all who trust him for it (in the present). And it’s because of who God is, powerful and majestic, that he has promised to keep us for eternity (in the future). Sing to the Lord, indeed!

HOW WE’RE TO WORSHIP

Psalm 96 has reminded us who we’re to worship and why we’re to worship, but we need to end by considering how we’re to worship. And we’re not given steps to right worship or rules to be followed. It doesn’t say, “two songs, prayer, two songs, communion, sermon, one song, benediction.” Instead, this psalm describes a heart posture for worship or a mindset for worship.

Essentially, Psalm 96 is a call to worship God wholly and unreservedly. It’s a call to God’s people to give him everything we’ve got because he gave us everything we’ve got—past, present, and future. Hold nothing back! Give it all! That’s how we’re to worship. 

And the psalmist communicates this all-consuming praise through merism, a figure of speech that describes a whole by contrasting extremes. We may say, “I’ll move heaven and earth to make you happy,” heaven and earth being the extremes and the point being “there’s nothing I won’t do.” Marriage vows often include merism: “For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer.” 

Psalm 96 includes a few of these to describe how we’re to worship. First, we’re to worship God with novelty and consistency. [96:1a] Praise him with creativity and innovation. But also praise him with predictability and consistency. [96:2] Worship by breaking new ground and by walking well-trodden paths. Worship him in every way.

Next, we’re to worship God evangelistically and personally. [96:3, 10a] Shout his magnificence from the rooftops! Make his awesomeness known to the world! But, at the same time, worship him privately. [96:8–9a] Go out and proclaim but then come in, get dressed rightly, and bring him the offering he deserves. Worship him everywhere.

Finally, we’re to worship God fearfully and joyfully. On one hand, [96:4b, 7, 9b]. The all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God of the universe is coming to judge. There must be a right reverence in worship. But, on the other hand, [96:6, 11a, 12b]. Praise God in fear, yes, but praise him in joy as well. Worship him with every emotion.

How are we to worship God? With novelty and consistency, evangelistically and personally, fearfully and joyfully. Inside, outside, upside-down. Worship God with all of your being, all of your time, all of your resources, all of your faculties, all of your emotions, all of your circumstances, all of your troubles, all of your victories, all your obedience, all your weakness, all your strength.

We are being called to give God everything because he’s owed everything because he’s given us everything. We worship the one true God because of who he is, what he’s done, what he’s doing, and what he has promised to do.

As one author has written: “God declines to sit atop an organizational flowchart. He is the organization. He is not interested in being president of the board. He is the board. And life doesn’t work until everyone else sitting around the table in the boardroom of your heart is fired. He is God, and there are no other applicants for that position. There are no partial gods, no honorary gods, no interim gods, no assistant to the regional gods.”

To give God the unreserved worship he is due is not only a privilege but an obligation. He’s owed it because of his person and work. 

And acceptable worship is less a matter of what we do and more a matter of how we do it. Not that what we do is unimportant—God has told us certain things to do to worship him (sing, pray, confess, read his word, preach his word, break bread, baptize, obey, trust, learn, etc.). But we can do the right things in the wrong way. 

It’s about the heart, brothers and sisters. It’s about growing in our knowledge of God’s person and work and then responding wholly to it. Let’s pray together.

Our God in heaven, we sing a new song to you today! With each new dawn, there is an opportunity to praise you. We worship you from north to south and east to west. We declare your greatness because you have saved us! May everyone worldwide hear the good news that God is wonderful. God is great and worthy of praise! God is the Creator and worthy of honour.

You, our great God, made the heavens and the oceans, the mountains and the meadows, the forests, plains, and deserts. You also, God, made each person who walks this earth. So, we shout from the bottom of our hearts: “The Lord, Yahweh, reigns! He is King! He rules the world!”

Even today, when our world appears to be on shaky ground. When politicians, professors, physicians, kings, business leaders, or even Christian leaders believe they are the answer, we say, “No! God is our only hope. God is the One True God. God is the judge. He will set everything right. He alone is worthy of adoration and praise.”

And we thank you, Father, for wiping the slate clean. Yes, because of the sacrifice of Jesus once and for all, our sins are forgiven, and every one of us has been granted access to your throne of grace. Thank you! Yes, you are the only way to seeing justice and freedom delivered to the nations and given to each of us personally.

So, let the trees of the forest sing for joy! And we will join in the chorus as well. You are the great I Am, the great judge. You rule the world!

And we stand in grateful awe of you! Amen.

 



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Josiah has served the Oakridge Bible Chapel family as one of its elders and one of its pastoral staff members since September 2018, before which he ministered as an associate pastor to a local congregation in the Canadian prairies. Josiah's desire is to be used by God to help equip the church for ministry, both while gathered (edification) and while scattered (evangelization). He is married to Patricia, and together they have five children—Jonah, Henry, Nathaniel, Josephine, and Benjamin.

Josiah Boyd

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