Since this is the last Psalm and the entire Psalter is traditionally considered a book of hymns, I thought that this would be a good opportunity to present some notes on worship from this passage.
First, worship is based upon who God is and what he’s done (vss.1-2). Literally the word comes from an Old English word meaning “worth-ship.” In other words, it’s declaring the “worth” of God, which of course is infinite and immeasurable. We can make a distinction between praise and thanksgiving which is valid, but for believers they are inseparably related. Angels can sing God’s praises regarding his power, his justice, his holiness, his wisdom, etc., but only we--as redeemed blood-bought children of God--can thank him for turning those attributes toward us in our favor. In his love and grace and mercy, he's freely chosen to display his power, his justice, his wisdom and his other attributes by saving us.
Second, the call to worship is a call to dedicate everything over to him. If you’ve already had this pointed out, then I apologize, but it’s pretty interesting to me. Verses 3-5 call us to worship him using trumpets, harps and lyres, tambourines, flutes and cymbals. Basic music 101 tells that there are three categories of musical instruments, and everything falls into one or more of these: strings, wind, and percussion. In those three short verses you see all three represented. In other words, all types of musical instruments are to be used in his service.
And it doesn’t stop there. The Psalmist also mentions “dancing.” The last verse also hints at singing as well. Using musical instruments is fine, but we shouldn’t neglect using the human body in the worship of our God. You might not be able to play a guitar or drums or a flute, but that does not in any way let you off the hook when it comes to involvement. This isn’t a call to letting chaos reign in a church service, but it does summon audience participation. The idea of professional musicians being set aside for full-time worship has precedent in Scripture, but they were always meant to lead worship. The idea that God’s people are supposed to treat worship like a football game, with a majority of laity watching the professionals do it and cheering them on, is not supported by his word.
And that segues right into my final point on worship. The last verse of the Psalter is a call for everyone to add their voice to the chorus. Do you have breath in your body? Well, who do you think put it there? Paul tells us that our Lord is the source of “life and breath and everything else.” If you have breath within you, then that breath needs to be used in praise of our Savior God.
So how about you? Have you been content to “sit on the sidelines” and let the professionals do everything? Or are you an active participant in the praise of our King, declaring to fellow believers and to the assembled angels the “worth-ship” of our Savior?
Father, Son, and Spirit, you are worthy of all praise and honor and thanksgiving and obedience. May every cell of my body, may my every thought and word and action be used in the worship of you and bring a smile to your face.