The Book of Psalms

Friday: Praising God in Zion


Theme: Leadership in Music and Reverence
In this week’s lessons, we learn about the importance of worship, and the responsibility of pastors to lead us in it.
Scripture: Psalm 134:1-3
Reference to the Levites in Psalm 134 leads to several important responsibilities of ministers. We have already looked at two such responsibilities: 1) Ministers must lead in prayer; and 2) Ministers must read and teach the Bible.
3. Ministers must oversee the music. What about the music? Today in many churches this is turned over to a Minister of Music, who often has no biblical or theological training and who chooses the service music for its emotional impact on the people rather than for its value as an element in the genuine worship of God. The function of the Levites should instruct us here, for one of the responsibilities assigned to them was the direction and even the performance of the music. This was a task given to them by David, as described in 1 Chronicles 25. They were to direct the music, employing such instruments as cymbals, lyres and harps. And there were a lot of them, 288 to be exact. 
What kind of music did they have? We do not know anything about the music itself, but we know the content of their songs. They were the psalms, the very hymns we have been studying. What wonderful content! What edifying compositions! Today’s ministers cannot perform the music—at least I cannot but they need to make sure that what music is chosen and performed in the services is biblically correct and actually directs the thoughts and emotions of the people to God and his gospel, and that it is not merely self-centered, self-indulgent or sentimental. 
4. Ministers must reverence God. Finally, ministers must reverence God, making clear in every aspect of their lives and speech that they hold him in awesome regard and are never flippant where spiritual matters are concerned. The Levites modeled this in the way they guarded God’s house, prepared the flour and wine, oil, incense and spices for the temple services, and oversaw the purification of these items (1 Chron. 23:28, 29). We need to recapture something of their reverence for God and his holiness in our day. Many ministers act as if God were our buddy, one with whom we are to have a good time but who does not need to be taken seriously. 
What will happen if we do take God seriously and worship him reverently, as he needs to be worshiped? The answer is that the “Maker of heaven and earth,” will “bless you from Zion” (v. 3). 
This last blessing is not merely something tacked on. In the Hebrew text the words “praise,” as in “Praise the LORD” in verses 1 and 2, is the same word as “bless” in verse 3. So the thought is that if we bless God in our worship, as we must, then God will also bless us abundantly in our daily lives. This is the highest point of the Songs of Ascents and the only truly ultimate goal of any Christian: to bless God and to be blessed by him—in other words, to glorify God and to enjoy him forever, which is where we began! So let’s do it! “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!” And all the people said, “Amen!”
Study Questions: 

What is the place of music in worship? How do you know? 
Why did the Levites guard, purify and prepare God’s house? 

Key Point: If we bless God in our worship, as we must, then God will also bless us abundantly in our daily lives. 
Application: Do you show proper reverence for God as you approach him in worship?
For Further Study: Since the psalms were used in worship, going back to the community of Israel, we might expect them to have much to teach us about how to praise the Lord. James Boice’s expositions on worship in the Psalms can help us in our own corporate worship and private praise. The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is offering the three-volume paperback set for 25% off the regular price.

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