1.4 Brief Applications to Christian Worship By Jonathan Martinovici

Copyright © Jonathan Martinovici 2019

In this session, we will make some brief applications to Christian Worship, from the things we have considered so far. This presentation will consider the implications of what we have said so far following these three headings:

  1. Enjoyment in worship.
  2. Awe in worship.
  3. Displeasure in worship.

After this, I will make some brief concluding remarks.

  1. Enjoyment in worship.

We have said already that certain enjoyments/pleasures are Good. That is, We are expected by Scripture to be pleased by what pleases God. Scripture represents this as a moral issue.

Scripture represents it as natural – that is, according to man’s nature as designed by God – for human beings to outwardly express their pleasure at what pleases God.

Additionally:

  • Scripture represents it as following naturally, that God’s people should rejoice and outwardly express their joy in lively ways in congregational worship. See Psalms 149 and 150 below.

 Psalm 149:2

Praise the Lord!

Sing to the Lord a new song,
And His praise in the assembly of saints.

Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
Let them praise His name with the dance;
Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the humble with salvation.

Let the saints be joyful in glory;
Let them sing aloud on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
And a two-edged sword in their hand,
To execute vengeance on the nations,
And punishments on the peoples;
To bind their kings with chains,
And their nobles with fetters of iron;
To execute on them the written judgment—
This honor have all His saints.

Praise the Lord!

 

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord!

Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!

Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!

Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord!

 

  • Scripture represents it as a natural, good desire, to see God worshipped with music which corresponds to and reflects the joy of the saints in God. – Psalm 150 represents the use of music not simply as a memory aid, and not simply as a means of synchronisation, but as a means of expression. The variety of instruments is indicated as yielding a variety of manners of expression.
  1. Awe in worship.

i. God’s word represents it as natural – that is, as according with the nature given to human beings by God – for human beings to be amazed, stopped in their tracks, overcome with awe when they perceive certain truths of God. The purest kind of this awe is in the redeemed.

Consider Psalm 139, which is a Psalm, a song. Many other Psalms express the same thing.

Psalm 139:1-6

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You [a]comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have [b]hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it. (bolds added)

And in verses 17-18:

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You. (bolds added)

  • Awe is thus suitable for worship.
  • Music that expresses, corresponds to and reflects this awe is likewise suitable to worship. See, again, Psalm 150.
  1. Displeasure in worship.

i. God’s word represents it as natural to man – according to the nature given to human beings by God – that human beings should be displeased by what displeases God.

ii. God’s word represents it as natural – according to the nature given to human beings by God – for human beings to outwardly express their displeasure at what displeases God. See Lamentations, and Psalms 38 and 88. These are all songs.

Psalm 38

O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!
For Your arrows pierce me deeply,
And Your hand presses me down.

There is no soundness in my flesh
Because of Your anger,
Nor any health in my bones
Because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
My wounds are foul and festering
Because of my foolishness.

I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly;
I go mourning all the day long.
For my loins are full of inflammation,
And there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am feeble and severely broken;
I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.

Lord, all my desire is before You;
And my sighing is not hidden from You.
10 My heart pants, my strength fails me;
As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.

11 My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague,
And my relatives stand afar off.
12 Those also who seek my life lay snares for me;
Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction,
And plan deception all the day long.

13 But I, like a deaf man, do not hear;
And I am like a mute who does not open his mouth.
14 Thus I am like a man who does not hear,
And in whose mouth is no response.

15 For in You, O Lord, I hope;
You will hear, O Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Hear me, lest they rejoice over me,
Lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me.”

17 For I am ready to fall,
And my sorrow is continually before me.
18 For I will declare my iniquity;
I will be in anguish over my sin.
19 But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong;
And those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied.
20 Those also who render evil for good,
They are my adversaries, because I follow what is good.

21 Do not forsake me, O Lord;
O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation!

Psalm 88 is also like it.

Psalm 88

O Lord, God of my salvation,
I have cried out day and night before You.
Let my prayer come before You;
Incline Your ear to my cry.

For my soul is full of troubles,
And my life draws near to the grave.
I am counted with those who go down to the pit;
I am like a man who has no strength,
Adrift among the dead,
Like the slain who lie in the grave,
Whom You remember no more,
And who are cut off from Your hand.

You have laid me in the lowest pit,
In darkness, in the depths.
Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah
You have put away my acquaintances far from me;
You have made me an abomination to them;
I am shut up, and I cannot get out;
My eye wastes away because of affliction.

Lord, I have called daily upon You;
I have stretched out my hands to You.
10 Will You work wonders for the dead?
Shall the dead arise and praise You? Selah
11 Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave?
Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction?
12 Shall Your wonders be known in the dark?
And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

13 But to You I have cried out, O Lord,
And in the morning my prayer comes before You.
14 Lord, why do You cast off my soul?
Why do You hide Your face from me?
15 I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth;
I suffer Your terrors;
I am distraught.
16 Your fierce wrath has gone over me;
Your terrors have cut me off.
17 They came around me all day long like water;
They engulfed me altogether.
18 Loved one and friend You have put far from me,
And my acquaintances into darkness.

 Additionally:

  • Scripture, by its own example (all two last references above are songs from the Psalter), represents it as natural – according to the nature given to human beings by God – to express their displeasure at what displeases God through music.
  • Scripture represents it as fitting and appropriate for god’s people to express their displeasure at what displeases God – including musically – in congregational worship.

 Conclusions:

 If any people say that enjoyment itself is an evil thing in worship, what we have said refutes that claim. If what we enjoy is what pleases God, then our enjoyment is good.

  • If any people say that awe towards God is an evil thing in worship, what we have said also refutes this claim.
  • If any people say that displeasure is an evil thing in worship, what we have said also refutes this claim. If what we are displeased with displeases God, then our displeasure is good.

I hope this will help us in our evaluations of things, to restrict our criticisms to what is evil and be kept from making erroneous condemnations.

All blessings.

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