2019-02-06 / Religion

Praise and worship our mighty God

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Psalm 66

Worship of the true child of God is always vertical. Any slip from the perpendicular always leans one toward idolatry. The need for one to “worship” is embedded in the nature of the highest creation. All individuals will worship “something.” This focus can be on anything from self to any inanimate object that one would name.

The Chosen Nation — Israel — had been given the fact of a “Covenant God,” Jehovah, by their forefather, Abraham. After the passing of the great flood (Genesis 6-9), worship slipped toward idolatry. Abram (Genesis 12:1) was given a particular call by Jehovah. From this man, the chosen nation would come. The name — Jehovah — was the covenant name of God. There were other names associated with this Covenant God. One of these names was Elohim. This name is plural in the Hebrew language, indicating the “Triune God” — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

As we read the psalms — Hebrew songs — the name, Elohim, is often used. This name pictures God as the creative, governing, powerful, omnipotent One. The name, Elohim, is most often translated by our word, God, while Jehovah is often translated, Lord.

In the psalm we know as Psalm 66, the unknown human author began, “Make a joyful noise (i.e., shout) unto God (Elohim), all ye lands…” Psalm 66:1. The Hebrews considered Elohim their “personal possession.” This claim was not shared by our Heavenly Father — the Creator of the universe. “All the lands” — nations — are called upon to join in the shout of exaltation of God.

The call for a shout is followed with a call to “Sing forth the honour of his name [Note: indicates authority; character; rank; majesty]: make his praise glorious.” Psalm 66:2. This divine directive is not seen as “acceptable worship” in many areas, today. To openly express praise “offends” some who claim to “worship” in our day.

Translations, sometimes, use words that have changed meanings through the years. The Holy Spirit (II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:21) inspired the writer of old. His Hebrew words have been translated into our language--“Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works!” Psalm 66:3a. The word “terrible” — in the Hebrew language — paints the picture of a reverence for God. Reverence is missing in much that masquerades as “worship” in our day. The psalmist continued, “through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.” Psalm 66:3b.

The call to praise continued — “All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name.” Psalm 66:4. At the end of this verse, the word, “Selah” is used. This word indicates a directive for those who sing these words — “pause, and reflect on this.” Do we make it a part of our worship to “pause, and reflect on” the words that we have so glibly mouthed? Have we attempted to let the words sink into our “innermost being,” and become part of our life?

The psalmist of old gave an invitation for the singers and hearers to focus their thoughts on the blessings of the past. “Come and See the works of God (Elohim): he is terrible (i. e., to be reverenced) in his doing toward the children of men.” Psalm 66:5. He reminded them of a specific incident in their history — “He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him.” Psalm 66:6. In their history, there were two incidences of the water being parted. Exodus 14:21; Joshua 3:14-17.

It is easy for us to “point to the past,” regarding the blessings of God. The experiences of the past — as great as they might have been — do not limit the power of God for the present. The psalmist wrote of God, “He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.” Psalm 66:7.

In western society, we have become accustomed to the use of electronics as being our source to bring us to “worship.” These devices might be of some “help,” but true worship “begins inwardly, and works outwardly.” See John 4:24.Without modern aids, the psalmist wrote, “O Bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard: Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth (gives) not our feet to be moved.” Psalm 66:8, 9.

The unknown writer from the past gave an invitation to all who would heed his call. In giving his personal testimony, he wrote, “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.” Psalm 66:16. He gave no details regarding the troubles in his life. However, he recognized the hand of God at work. “I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled (to raise up) with my tongue.” Psalm 66:17.

This psalmist recognized his personal “part to play” in his relationship with God. “If I regard (gaze upon) iniquity (wickedness) in my heart (fountain of life), the Lord (Adonai; Master) will not hear me: But verily God (Elohim) hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.” Psalm 66:18, 19.

This writer of old ended this psalm with a declaration of faith in the One whom he served. “Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.” Psalm 66:20.

As we, personally, reflect on the song of old, as need to “take inventory” of our own lives. This ancient writer lived under the Old Testament Law. The sacrifices that were offered “covered” sins, but could not “take away sin.” See Hebrews 10:4. This removal of sin could only come by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. John 1:29. This fact can only be possible as one, personally, accepts the Divine provision. John 3:16. Have you, consciously, “believed on the Lord Jesus Christ” as your Savior? See Acts 16:31. When this act occurs, our life will be changed.

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