The Psalms – Psalms of Worship

This Thursday we will continue with our study of the Psalms. (An updated syllabus is attached). This week we will look at the worship of God as set forth in the Psalms. One of my great joys in hearing the Psalms in worship is the knowledge that many of the Psalms we have go back to the worship in Solomon’s Temple over 3,00 years ago. These are the same songs that Ezra expounded upon and the same hymns that Jesus himself would have recited in the synagogue in Nazareth. The Psalms have been used at all times and in all places in Christian worship from the earliest Christian assemblies to today and from the Pope in Rome and the Metropolitan of Constantinople to the Spirit-appointed preachers on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. The Psalms are one of those things like the Lord’s Prayer which truly make the Church catholic. Not only have God’s people used the Psalms in worship for 3,000 years, but they give us an insight into what worship means so that we may “behold the fair beauty of the LORD.” Psalm 27:6.

This week we will look at three primary aspects of worship in the Psalms. The first comes from Chapter 5 of Lewis’ book and how there is a great “appetite” for God in the Psalms and how our worship of the Divine and the Divine itself are inseparable. We will look at Psalms 27:1-7, 42:1-2, and 84.

We will also look at worshipping God in the Temple. As Lewis points out, the Church, as being the place of sacrifice (i.e. Lord’s Supper) is analogous to the Temple in function. (Lewis, p.45) We will read Psalms 42:11-14, 50, and 23:6 as to what it means to “dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Finally, we will look at the role of music in the Psalms. The Psalms themselves take their name from the musical instrument called the Psaltery. A great many of the Psalms speak of singing, and shouting, and the use of various instruments in worship, such as Psalms 33:1-3, 68:24-26, 81:1-5, and 92:1-4. If time allows we may discuss the use of use musical instruments in the church as it relates to the Psalms. Not until the medieval time period did the Western Church use instruments in worship and even today the Eastern Churches still do not use musical instruments other than the human voice. During the Reformation, John Calvin wrote that “musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting up of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law.” John Calvin’s commentary on Psalm 33. And, of course, there is still that discussion in the Anglican tradition as to whether the Psalms themselves should be said, chanted, or sung.

Harriett Holiday is bringing dinner this week. We will start at 6. Hope to see you here.

Teaching Notes – Worship in the Psalms
Lewis, Ch.5
     Incense – Psalm 141:1-2, Rev. 8:3-4
     Longing for God – Psalms 27:1-7; 42:1-2; 84
     In the Temple – 92:11-14; 50; 23:6
     Music – 33:1-3, 81:1-5; 92:1-4; 68:24-26 (Calvin on Psalm 33)    

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