The Big Idea
Worship is not a supplementary activity to other ‘more important’ things. It is the reason that we are made. God loves a heart of worship, and when we offer worship with all that we are, God delights and draws near.
The thing that set king David apart from others was his heart of worship. He loved and hungered for the presence of God, and often spent time on his own and with others singing, songwriting and making music to the Lord. We read about him at a young age being called to play and soothe king Saul, and we can imagine this is how he spent those long hours in the fields with the sheep, singing and making music before the Lord.
David was also a prolific songwriter. Around half of the Psalms (73) are credited to him, and they run through the whole range of human emotions. Joy, despair, fear, anger and the rest all find expression in these Psalms. David knew that no matter what he was feeling, the very best thing to do with it was to bring it to God in worship.
Psalm 34 is one such Psalm. It is written later in David’s life when he is having trouble with one of his sons, but it expresses themes that characterised David’s entire life.
The first stanza (v1-3) is a call to worship. David states clearly his own intention to never stop praising God. He speaks of worship as blessing God, of praising him, of boasting of him, and of magnifying him. It is about (with the mouth and the heart) declaring how good God is. In verse 3, he invites the hearer to join him in this life of worship.
This is followed up in the second stanza (v4-7) with a reason to worship. David speaks of how God has saved him. He has personal testimonies of what God has done in his life, and he uses these to fuel the fire of praise. We also have testimonies. Those of us who know Jesus have been saved from sin and death, and many of us have other stories of how God has delivered us in various ways. These things should lead us back to worship.
In the third stanza (v8-10) there is the invitation to experience. If somebody is having doubts about what God is like or whether he is real, then David would invite them to ‘taste and see’. Personally encountering God is the most powerful testimony of his reality and goodness. As we worship him, we long to draw close and experience his presence.
The next stanza (v11-14) is an exhortation to holiness. Worship is much more than singing. It means a whole life orientated to giving praise to God. David encourages his hearer to fear God, to speak truth, to shun evil, to do good and to seek peace. Everything we do can be part of our worship, and so we should live in a worshipful way.
In the fifth stanza (v15-18), David shares with us a heavenly perspective and gives us a window into what God is doing in all of this. He is listening to the cry of the righteous and bringing their salvation, opposing evildoers and drawing close to the brokenhearted. The purpose of worship isn’t primarily about what we bring, but about getting caught up into what God is doing.
The final stanza (v19-22) is an application to suffering. There is a particular power in worshipping in the midst of affliction, and David encourages the hearer that the Lord knows and will deliver them. None who take refuge in the Lord can ever be condemned, so let’s stand firm in worship of him whatever is going on.
There are many reasons why David is described in Acts as ‘a man after God’s own heart’, but the most fundamental is that David was a worshipper. He loved God above all things and expressed it with his songs and with his life. Let us worship with all our hearts.
Taking It to Jesus
Like David, Jesus loved to get into the presence of the Father. He would often rise early in the morning or withdraw to a quieter place to spend time in his Father’s presence. Like David, Jesus knew that what was important wasn’t the external form but the heart devotion to the Father who is looking for those who will worship him in spirit and truth.
- Develop patterns of personal worship in your life.
- Engage together with others in the church in corporate worship in a wholehearted manner.
- Spend time thinking of the testimonies you have of what God has done for you in the past and let this fuel your praise.