Theme: Singing of God as Creator
In this week’s lessons, we see the importance of song in worship.
Scripture: Psalm 149:1-9
I have been emphasizing in these final studies of Psalms that worship is a serious mental activity. It involves hard thinking, and it is possible only because of God’s prior revelation in the Bible, which means that we must begin by studying that book. In order to praise God we must know who God is, and the only way we can know who he is and what he has done is by God’s own disclosure of himself in Scripture. Still the things about God that we come to know by studying the Bible are not bare facts, things which are true but which have no significance for us. On the contrary, they are truths that call for passionate response. They teach that God is a loving God who has given himself to us in Jesus Christ, who died for us, and that God continues to give himself to us by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. God loves us, cares for us, preserves us, guides us, lifts us up when we are down, and he will never stop doing this. This calls for our response.
What is unique about singing is that it provides for this response. It provides a unique joining of biblical content and emotional assent. Music alone does not do this, though it can prepare us for worship by quieting our hearts to hear the voice of God in Scripture. And words alone, while we can and do respond to them personally and emotionally, become far more a part of us and a far more joyful thing when we sing them. Even more when we sing them with others who believe as we do! When we sing together, we confess that the things we have heard are true—we say “Amen” or “Hallelujah” to them. We confess that they are a delight and joy for us, and we join with others who make the same confession.
The reason God’s people are called to sing is expressed in verse 4: “the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation.” Our singing is a response to that truth. We express delight in God because he has first taken delight in us and has saved us from sin.
The truths about God in which the writer of this song takes delight and for which he wishes to praise God have already been considered in studies of other psalms. Yet it is worth reviewing them here, because they are matters for which the people of God must perpetually be thankful. After the opening invocation, the first stanza refers to three of them (vv. 2-5).
1. God is our Creator. This stanza refers to Israel as God’s people (vv. 2, 4) and God’s saints (v. 5). So when Israel is told to praise God as her Maker (v. 2) the idea is probably that God brought Israel into being as an elect spiritual nation. On the other hand, Maker means Creator, and God has been praised as the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth in the immediately preceding psalm. However we take it, God has created us and we are indebted to him for everything we are or can ever hope to be.
I have been impressed recently with the fact that this is where the Bible begins, by introducing God as the Creator even before going on to such other matters as the fall and God’s plan of redemption. The later matters are of great importance, but the starting point for the creature must be the created one’s acknowledgment of the Creator, since it is only when we have begun to know God as our Creator that we can appreciate what we owe him and understand how we have failed to praise and thank him properly. It is worth noting that this is also where Paul starts in his unfolding of the gospel and the historical plan of God in Romans 1. He begins with God as the Creator and with the fact that God has made himself known as Creator to all persons. The problem with those who are unregenerate is that “although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him” (Rom. 1:21), as a result of which the wrath of God has been displayed and is being displayed against them.
This is where we need to begin in most of our evangelism today since people today know so little about the Bible. We can’t assume that they know anything. We have to begin at the beginning.
What does God do that calls for our response? What should our response be?
What is the place of God’s Word in worship?
Explain what is meant by God as Creator and by God as Maker.
Where do Genesis and Romans begin teaching doctrine? Why is that important?
Application: How can you begin talking with others about God in your witness?
Key Point: It is only when we have begun to know God as our Creator that we can appreciate what we owe him and understand how we have failed to praise and thank him properly.