Why We Worship in Song

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For my first post, I’ve decided to start with a fundamental question: why do we sing praises to God? About a year ago, our pastor gave a sermon on this topic. Before that, it had never occurred to me to ask this question, let alone try to find verses about it. I’d always taken for granted that we sing when we worship, and I assume music has always been a core piece of worship for most of you, too. Still, I think it’s important to consider why we sing because our answer to this question sets the tone for all future discussions of worship.

First, we need to understand the very nature of worship. It’s not the same thing as telling the Lord we love Him; that’s more like prayer. We can’t just speak our praises to God, because speaking is not enough. “For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with a skillful psalm.” (Psalm 47:7 NASB) You see, God is worthy of more than just your regular, everyday voice. He is not merely some Olympic champion to be congratulated on a job well done. Honoring God demands more than that. Honestly (sadly?), the crying, shrieking teenagers desperate to catch a glimpse of the Beatles were vivid examples of worshipers. Their adoration was misplaced, but their emotion was pretty near what ours should be in the face of God’s greatness. Could we even begin to show praise like that to our King? Our sinful nature makes it difficult, but the perfect glory of God requires it.

We also need to see that worshiping God in song is a direct command from the Bible. It’s not simply a liturgical practice developed over the years or a symbolic mannerism. For example, reciting creeds or folding one’s hands to pray are not Biblical commands. Most of us think those things are important, or at least helpful, but if you never did them, you could honor God just as well. However, the Bible clearly commands us to worship God with songs and shouts. Psalm 100:1-2 (NASB) says, “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.” And Psalm 47:6 (NASB) is even more direct: “Sing praises to God, sing praises; Sing praises to our King, sing praises.” Worshiping in music is an essential part of our communion with God. Even if you don’t like singing, or believe that you can’t, you must. In fact, it makes me wonder about monks living for years in silence. Instead of the pious offering they intended, I think they were failing to follow the Bible’s straight forward instruction on worship.

Why does God desire our songs so much? I think it’s because music has a purposeful and purposive essence to it that sets it apart from other exultant expressions. When Mr. Miyagi had Daniel paint his fence, in a very specific way, the purpose was to teach the movements needed for karate. But he also happened to get a fresh coat of paint on his fence. It’s similar with God’s command to sing to Him. Music is a craft that takes effort and intention. It’s an art that rests on structure and elegance (unlike the screams of delirious music fans). Like the giving of firstfruits, you can’t do it by accident. So when we sing to God, we make the conscious decision to create something beautiful and give it to Him. That’s an excellent gift. Not coincidentally, music also has a favorable effect on us. Ardent worship takes more from us than mere speaking; it engages the entire body and mind, and connects us with God and each other. It’s a powerful and transformative experience to sing together in unity of fervor and faith. So in demanding our songs of praise, God desires a worthy offering and, at the same time, benefits us. His love for us is astounding, isn’t it?

If you have any other thoughts on why we worship, I’d love to hear them. There are lots of other verses on the topic; please share your favorites. And whenever you think about worship, I hope you’ll see it in a new way, as a blessing to both God and us.

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Good stuff, Christy. I'm always haunted by the Augustine statement "He who sings prays twice" and I definitely think of our hymn-singing as prayers with notes attached. I wonder to what extent our God is musical at the core and hears us kind of speaking His language when we sing...?

Participant

Thanks David.  I tend to think God loves music. It just seems to fit with how he made us.

Your article helps me understand why discussions regarding and planning of music for a worship service so often come with tension and difficulty. If our attempts at God-glorifying music are so full of tension and failings, why do we plan and stumble? Why not just always let music happen? What you have written has helped me sort out that it is so important to put effort and intention in our music, because it is this effort and intention inherent in music that is at the very foundation of our desire and attempt to see the perfect glory of our great God! With this in mind, it is easier for me to see why God wants and even commands us to worship Him in song.

Participant

Henry, I'm glad this post was helpful to you.  When our pastor gave his sermon on why we worship, it was enlightening for me.

Christy, thank you for sharing your heart.my wife Mary and I are musicians and part of NISSI Institute, a ministry  in San Antonio Texas. Recently The LORD gave me a visual concerning using our gifts to worship and Glorify Him. The Father reaches His hand down from heaven with a lump of clay and say's here my son. I grab hold of it, being made a little creator, created in His image I mold it skillfully and fashion it with love. In my case one of the gifts he has given me was creating music, musical movements and sounds. So when I lavish love on The Lord in song, I am taking that now sculpted creation with both hands, lifting it up high to Him and saying look Daddy, LOOK DADDY I made this for you. My hope is that Daddy accepts it and hands it back to me, and the process continues.                                                                                                                                Paul Gamboa-  fb Nissi WorshipBand