Theme: Why We Should Worship God
In this week’s lessons, we learn how and why to worship God, and also see the need to respond rightly to the gospel while there is still time.
Scripture: Psalm 95:1-11
We have seen a few ways in which we can worship God. Let’s ask why we should worship him. The next stanzas give two important reasons.
1. Because God is such a great God (vv. 3-5). Appreciation can be shown to many people, praise to others. Worship belongs to God only. Yet we cannot worship God until we have a proper sense of who he is. “Not until we grasp who the Lord is, are we inwardly moved to worship him,” writes John Stott.1 Verses 3-5 begin by teaching that he is the Creator of all things: “In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.” This is the starting place. That God is the Creator of everything is the first reason for the call to worship in verses 1, 2.
2. Because God is our own dear Shepherd (vv. 6, 7). This stanza uses God’s relationship to his people as a second reason why we should worship God, and as a reason for the psalm’s second call to worship in verse 6. Here the worship of God is made personal, for we are reminded that God not only made the caves and the mountains, the seas and the dry land; he made us, too. What is more, he cares for us, if we are numbered among his people. Using a common but beautiful pastoral image, the psalm says that we are God’s sheep, “the flock under his care” (v. 7).
What Christian can read this without thinking of Jesus’ use of the same image in John 10? “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…. I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep…My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (vv. 11, 14, 15, 27, 28).
We owe God worship because he is God and has created us. But even more, we owe him worship because he has given his life for us, has called us to faith and now keeps and preserves us with a power that nothing either in heaven or earth can shake. We are the sheep of Jesus’ hand, and nothing will ever snatch us out of Jesus’ hand.
The new idea in this stanza, besides the second reason why we should worship God, is reverence. It is important that we use it to balance off the call to exuberant worship in stanza one, because noise can be mere noise and true worship is the opposite of noise for its own sake. What is important in verse 6 is that each of the three Hebrew verbs involves the thought of humbling oneself before God: bowing and kneeling, obviously, but also worshiping, which in Hebrew means “to prostrate oneself.” Ascribing worth to God, which we often explain worship as being, is the idea behind the English word but not the Hebrew, though the Old Testament does invite us to ascribe to the Lord the glory due him (see Ps. 96:8). The Hebrew text uses the verbs in direct sequence of one another so that the text literally reads, “Come, let us prostrate ourselves, let us bow down, let us kneel.”
1John R. W. Stott, Favorite Psalms (Chicago: Moody, 1988), p. 83.
What is the first step to true worship of God?
How does knowing who God is affect how we worship?
Why is the image of the shepherd significant here? What other images of God as shepherd come to mind, and how does the Bible work with this theme in those passages?
Contrast exuberance with reverence. How do they work together?
What does kneeling signify?
Reflection: What are your reasons for offering worship to God?
Key Point: We owe God worship because he is God and has created us. But even more, we owe him worship because he has given his life for us, has called us to faith and now keeps and preserves us with a power that nothing either in heaven or earth can shake.