It’s just not optional. It’s not a take it or leave it sort of thing. It’s not about preference, or whether you’re into that sort of thing, but of priority and a vital defence against being drawn into a place you really shouldn’t want to go. I’m taking about worship.
Two of my readings this morning having me chewing on the priority of worship.
When David was old and full of days, he made Solomon his son king over Israel. David assembled all the leaders of Israel and the priests and the Levites. The Levites, thirty years old and upward, were numbered, and the total was 38,000 men. “Twenty-four thousand of these,” David said, “shall have charge of the work in the house of the LORD, 6,000 shall be officers and judges, ,000 gatekeepers, and 4,000 shall offer praises to the LORD with the instruments that I have made for praise.“
(1Chronicles 23:1-5 ESV)
Four thousand Levites dedicated to offering praise. Talk about your worship team! And it wasn’t just about making music, they had a message to declare. They were “set apart” and “prophesied with lyres, harps, and with cymbals . . . in thanksgiving and praise to the LORD” (1Chron. 25:1b, 4b). So important was it that they were “trained in singing” (25:7). And what they were to do wasn’t just an “add on” but was an integral part of “the service of the house of God” (25:6). Big choir! Big job! Big deal!
So how come? Why the priority on making sure when people came to the house of God they heard the story of God being declared by the servants of God in songs to God?
Lots of reasons, I suppose. But here’s one that jumped off the page at me as I read also in the Psalms this morning. There’s a worship war, says the songwriter.
Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD, give praise, O servants of the LORD, who stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God! Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing to His name, for it is pleasant! . . .
The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them. O house of Israel, bless the LORD!
(Psalm 135:1-3, 15-19a ESV)
The “idols of the nations” beckon to the saints of heaven. Though their mouths can’t speak, like the sirens of Greek mythology, they have their own song. With their enchanting music and ethereal voices they lure those who would draw near towards being shipwrecked on the rocky coast of their island.
Those who would march to the beat of their drummer are enslaved to follow them. Those who dance to the song of idols becoming like them. Followers of idols become inert. Unable to experience the things of real life, the things of God. While having a form of being alive, in reality they too become just inanimate objects.
And so, the psalmist, in seeking to battle the enticing melodies of the idols of the nations says, “Praise the LORD! . . . sing to His name, for it is pleasant . . . bless the LORD!”
An effective antidote for being led astray by the allure of idols is the regular worship of the one and only true God! So much so, that David dedicated 4,000 Levites to make sure the house of God was filled with songs of redemption, remembrance, and recognition of who God is and what He has done.
I’ve said it before, how we sell short our worship on Sunday mornings when we think of it as only the “prelims” to the “main event” of the sermon. While we wouldn’t even consider walking in late on the word of God being preached, so often we think nothing of strolling in whenever, as the story of God is being sung.
Instead, if we recognized the worship wars about us, we might see singing with the saints as a vital part of our battle against the allure of the world and its ways. We might be more focused on availing ourselves of every moment of every opportunity to gather with others of like mind to declare the wonder of our salvation and the glory of our Savior.
Four thousand Levites in the days of David. Love to see that choir!
A family of believers singing this Sunday. Can’t wait to join their chorus.
By His grace. For His glory.