Gratitude and Worship
It may seem strange to gather together on a Sunday morning solely for the purpose of singing songs of worship. This is not a typical practice in most other areas of life. We don’t start staff meetings by singing songs, nor do parent-teacher associations. The only other place it commonly happens is before sporting events when we sing the national anthem.
There we foster patriotism and unity before competition sets in. So why do Christians make weekly corporate worship through song such a priority? Let’s explore what God’s Word says.
Why We Worship – God is Our King
Psalm 100 makes clear that we worship because God is our rightful king. The psalm speaks of entering God’s gates with thanksgiving. In ancient biblical times, the city gate represented the power and prestige of that city. Elders conducted business there. Controlling the gate meant controlling the city. Psalm 100 metaphorically gives God ownership of the gates and courts, representing a city and temple where He reigns supreme.
This reminds us that our private attitudes matter, but God also calls his people to corporately gather for worship. Psalm 100 gives two basic reasons why. First, because God is king and deserves our worship as his subjects. Second, because he is a good, loving and faithful king, which elicits grateful praise.
The Nature of Our King
The psalm describes God as our creator, shepherd, and the source of all goodness, whose love and faithfulness endure forever. What a contrast to the violent, self-serving pagan gods of Israel’s neighbors. Some even offered their own children as sacrifices. The psalmist implicitly asks – of all the gods out there, which would you rather serve? The one who sacrificed his own Son for you? Or the one who brutally takes your son?
This should produce gratitude that we have a loving, merciful King to worship, not one to cower before out of fear. God made us to find our highest purpose and joy in serving and worshiping Him. Yet we often prefer seeking our own way. We worship things like money, sex, power, freedom – becoming our own little gods. But the need to worship remains, even if misdirected.
We must realign our hearts toward the true King. Sunday gathers us to refocus on God’s surpassing worth when other idols clamor loudly all week. We intentionally shift our gaze back to the beauty of Christ through song, preaching, and sacraments. This brings nourishment our souls desperately need.
So why do we worship? We need the weekly remembering. Our hearts and minds must be retuned to truth. Thankfully, God knows this and graciously provides the means to recalibrate us.
How We Should Worship
How then should we worship? Psalm 100 shows worship must engage both heart and mind. Seven imperative verbs reveal the attitude and actions God desires:
Shout joyfully – with the gusto of an army bellowing as they enter battle. Our zeal reflects the greatness of our King.
Serve the Lord – with the devotion of a loyal subject seeking to please his true ruler, not himself.
Come before God – as a farmer who diligently labors from dawn to dusk to harvest his fields. We should have a sense of focus, determination and effort.
Know the Lord – by pursuing an intimacy of both mind and spirit with Him.
Confess God’s character – boldly declaring who He is and what He’s done among His people.
Bless His name – proclaiming His superior power and virtues compared to all other gods.
Give thanks – because He is a good King, not out mere obligation, but profound gratitude. Our hearts overflow with praise.
The psalm shows corporate worship should be:
- Intentional – setting apart sacred time to focus on God
- Boldly declarative about God’s greatness
- Emotionally intimate as we open our hearts to him
- Intellectually engaging as our minds ponder deep truth
- Energetically vibrant as the Spirit prompts exuberance
- Thankful as we respond to God’s surpassing worth
In closing, we’re called to wholeheartedly worship God together with voices and bodies, but even more so hearts and minds. This assumes we’ve already surrendered control of our lives to Jesus, our true King. It’s a call to enthrone Him in our hearts, commune with Him in intimate relationship, and join with fellow subjects in songs of gratitude.
The wonder of the gospel is that our perfect King gave His life to make us His people. He takes rebels, transforms us into royal children, then invites us to know Him and enjoy Him forever. May our corporate worship every Lord’s day reflect our astonishment at such lavish grace. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!