Praise in Psalms
- Taking special care of the godly (4:3)
- Allowing humans to share in the care and dominion of his creation (8:6)
- Defending the oppressed, such as widows and orphans (10:18)
- Walking with us through life’s dark valleys (23:4)
- Giving us music so that we may praise him in song (33:1-3)
- Creating a clean heart within us (51:10)
- Blessing his people with abundant harvests (67:6)
- Calling all nations to himself (87:1-7)
- Granting us mercy, rather than punishing us as we deserve (103:10)
- Communicating his eternal word to us (119:89)
- Filling us with laughter and joy (126:2)
- Fulfilling his covenant promises (136:1-26).
Worship in Psalms
Christian worship has taken many forms, involving various expressions and postures on the part of the worshiper. The foundation for many of these actions and expressions comes from the Psalms, which describe worship as an act of the whole person, not just the mind.
The Hebrew word for worship literally means “to kneel” or “to bow down.” At its heart, worship is the gesture of humbling oneself before a higher authority. The Psalms urge us, “Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker” (95:6).
The Psalms also call upon us to “sing to the LORD; bless his name” (96:2). Music has always been a significant facet of worship. While the Psalms themselves are hymns, they also invite worshipers to sing a “new song” of praise. Along with vocal praise, the sounds of trumpets, lyres, cymbals, and other instruments echo throughout the Psalms.
Physical gestures and movements are also mentioned in the Psalms. While upraised hands form a posture of prayer, they also express loyalty to God, similar to lifting the hand in an oath. “Lift your hands in holiness, and bless the LORD“ urges Psalm 134:2.
This same gesture can also denote thankfulness. Clapping one’s hands is an act of celebration. Another physical act is the procession of worshipers toward the sanctuary in festive celebration (68:24-25). Finally, some worshipers rejoice in the Lord’s presence “with the tambourine and dancing” (150:4).
To worship like the psalmists is to obey Jesus’ command to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (Mark 12:30). This is worship in motion. This is worship we can see.
- God’s gifts of instrumental and vocal music should be used to help us worship (47:1; 81:1-4; 150:1-5).
- As we commit ourselves to the Lord, we can confidently appeal to him for help and thank him for his deliverance (4:3; 17:1-5).
- When we seek to live according to the Lord’s direction, we often face opposition from people who do not know his ways (3:1-2; 43:1; 59:1-3).
- Difficult circumstances should not keep us from praising the Lord (22:23-24; 102:1-12; 140:4-8).
- The Psalms reveal the essence of worship: celebrating what God has done for us (18:1-50; 106:1-48; 136:1-26).
- Confessing our sins relieves us of many burdens (32:1-11; 42:5-11; 116:1-19).
- Each person’s experiences and reflections can benefit the larger body of believers, just as even the most personal psalms belong to the entire worshiping community (see titles to Psalms 4, 5, and 6).