Bodily Worship in the Body

I Love the Lord

116 I love the Lord, because he has heard

my voice and my pleas for mercy.

      Because he inclined his ear to me,

therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

      The snares of death encompassed me;

the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;

I suffered distress and anguish.

      Then I called on the name of the Lord:

“O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

      Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;

our God is merciful.

      The Lord preserves the simple;

when I was brought low, he saved me.

      Return, O my soul, to your rest;

for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

      For you have delivered my soul from death,

my eyes from tears,

my feet from stumbling;

      I will walk before the Lord

in the land of the living.

10     I believed, even when I spoke:

“I am greatly afflicted”;

11     I said in my alarm,

“All mankind are liars.”

12     What shall I render to the Lord

for all his benefits to me?

13     I will lift up the cup of salvation

and call on the name of the Lord,

14     I will pay my vows to the Lord

in the presence of all his people.

15     Precious in the sight of the Lord

is the death of his saints.

16     O Lord, I am your servant;

I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.

You have loosed my bonds.

17     I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving

and call on the name of the Lord.

18     I will pay my vows to the Lord

in the presence of all his people,

19     in the courts of the house of the Lord,

in your midst, O Jerusalem.

       Praise the Lord!

The titles of the Psalms in our modern Bible translations often reflect the translator’s title.  So, Psalm 116 is appropriately, I think, titled “I Love the LORD”.  I’m sure it received its title from the first line of the Psalm itself.

The Psalmist begins by praising God for hearing him when he prays.  This Psalmist is clearly giving thanks and worship to God for being his gracious deliverer.  He speaks of how God hears when we pray, how he has heard in the past which means that I will continue to trust him in the future (v.2 “therefore I will call on him as long as I live”).   The Psalmist recites some of the attributes of God:  he is gracious, righteous, and merciful.  God cares for the welfare of those who don’t have the means or wherewithal to care for themselves (which reflects all of us in some form or fashion).

Today I want to focus on the latter part of the Psalm where it moves from strict praise (telling about God and God’s mercy) to the author’s response.  This is where we should find our application as well.  It’s good and necessary to know about God and definitely to praise him, but we should also move to understand our response to understand how we should live life before our God.

In verses 14 and 17 through 19 we see three principals at work for how to live life before the face of God. First, we are called to worship God corporately.  Just look at vv. 14 and 18, “in the presence of all his people”.  It’s a sad thing that churches are unable to meet to worship corporately right now out of their appropriate love for others.  This means that we should be working toward supplementing our family and private worship times to fill the void.  I’ve written this before in the devotions, this should just increase our longing for corporate worship again.  It should also increase our longing for heaven when we will be free from sin and the curse.

A second principle we see is that worship is religious.  Religious and religion seem to have a bad connotation in churches these days.  People will say I love Jesus but I don’t do religion.  Well, the Bible does religion and we see it here in the payment of vows (v.14 and v. 18 again).  There are parts of our worship that necessitate a religious work.  Work here is defined as outward, visible, physical actions in the worship of God.  It’s not all about your heart that is invisible (so, not your myocardial muscle pumping in your chest).  God’s rightful worship starts from a right heart but it also involves right outward responses.

And finally, there is a liturgical nature to worship:  “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving” (v. 17).  The outward forms need orderly expression.  Our worship should begin to change us or at least call us to change, not only in its content but also in its form.  The Old Testament had a very specific form or liturgy of worship to emphasize God’s holiness, mankind’s need, and redemption itself.  As any teacher knows, making use of multiple learning styles helps to cement truth in a student’s head.  Liturgy adds a kinesthetic element as well as an aesthetic element to worship that does form our thoughts in some way.  This is part of our being made in God’s image that we are able to glorify him in this way at all.  And it has everything to do with honoring how God made us:  in body and soul which is how He will redeem us.

In Jesus’ love,

Pastor Matt 

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