“Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.”
Psalm 96:8 (NIV)
“Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.
They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Savior.”
Psalm 24:3-5 (NIV)
“The Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him.”
Habakkuk 2:20 (NIV)
As a young child sitting in church, I was more observant than my overactive body would have suggested. I enjoyed looking around and seeing so many adults quietly seated with their heads bowed before the service began. I could not recall any other time in the week being around a large group of adults, who were so quiet. I was with crowds of adults at sporting events, family gatherings and so on but they were noisy in such contexts. This was very different.
It took years for me to learn the reason for such silence. Those godly people were preparing their hearts for worship. I recall A.W. Tozer, a great preacher of the twentieth century in the U.S.A., commenting on a practice he first witnessed in Canadian churches. He saw that, after the closing prayer, the congregation would sit quietly for several minutes with their heads bowed. He was impressed at how the worshippers were not in a hurry to catch up with other worshippers. Instead, they bowed their heads to pray privately and conclude their time of worship.
According to Scripture worship is a sacred event where people come to present themselves to the Lord and hear His message to them. It is a time for listening and ascribing worth to the Lord through prayer, singing of the Lord’s glory, reading Scripture, giving our tithes and offerings, observing the ordinances, and hearing the Word of God preached.
Our verses for today speak of a special attitude we need to have as we assemble for worship. God is great, and He is greatly to be praised. We must approach God with humility of heart. We need to always understand that God is awesome, all powerful, holy and wholly different from us.
Read the following poem and marvel at how the author mingles a holy fear of God and a pure delight in our heavenly Father.
My God, how wonderful Thou art,
Thy majesty, how bright;
How beautiful Thy mercy seat
In depths of burning light!
How dread are Thy eternal years,
O everlasting Lord,
By prostrate spirits day and night
How wonderful, how beautiful,
The sight of Thee must be;
Thy endless wisdom, boundless power,
And glorious purity!
O how I fear Thee, living God,
With deep and tender fear;
And worship Thee with trembling hope,
And penitential tears!
Yet, I may love Thee, too, O Lord,
Almighty as Thou art;
For Thou hast stooped to ask of me
The love of my poor heart!
No earthly father loves like Thee,
No mother, e’er so mild,
Bears and forbears as Thou hast done,
With me, Thy sinful child.
Only to sit and think of God,
Oh, what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breathe the Name,
Earth has no higher bliss.
Father of Jesus, love’s Reward!
What rapture it will be
Prostrate before Thy throne to lie,
And gaze, and gaze on Thee!