“O Yahweh, You have searched me and known me …” Psalm cxxxix.1
Christian worship must be grounded in one’s personal knowledge of God just as it should be on the basis of our redemption in Jesus Christ. How can we ascribe glory to God in a fitting manner if we do not know His attributes and nature? Worship can become very superficial if we focus only on what God has done for us; a grateful heart must also be aware of who God is. Songs that are rooted in Scripture help us to reflect upon the nature of God as we worship Him. Sadly, many songs that are used today’s worship services, instead of enriching our worship, are frivolous at best. This is why we need to use Psalms and Scripture-based songs in our worship.
King David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, knew his God, Yahweh, in a deep way. In Psalm 139, he is full of awe and adoration towards Yahweh. A careful examination of the psalm shows us how deep David’s understanding was concerning his God’s nature and character.
i. The omniscient God: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me” (v.6). David was overwhelmed by God’s ability to know everything about him – his actions, his words and even his thoughts.
ii. The omnipresent God: “Where can I flee from Your presence?” (v.7) David knew that God was everywhere. There was no way he could escape God’s presence. Awareness of God’s abiding Presence was a source of comfort for David; it wasn’t a source of torment.
iii. The omnipotent God: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works.” (v.14) David knew that God was very much involved in his formation in his mother’s womb. Such a God who creates new life, not to mention the entire cosmos, must be all powerful.
iv. The omni-benevolent God: “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!” (v.17) Such an awesome God is full of goodness towards His creatures. He is careful about every detail in our lives. Even before we realize our needs, He makes provision for those needs.
v. The holy God: “Search me, O God, and know my heart … and see if there is any wicked way in me.” (v.23-24). David had no problems reconciling God’s goodness and holiness. Even though Yahweh is a loving and good God, He cannot tolerate wickedness. Therefore, even as David prayed for God’s just punishment upon the wicked, he wanted God to cleanse His own life.
True knowledge of God will lead to a true understanding of our own sinfulness. Thus, worship based on a sound understanding and revelation of God’s nature will always lead to holiness and spiritual renewal. We will be led to self-examination and confession of our sins. That’s the need of the hour. Many church services begin with a boring question, “How many of us are happy this morning?” Happiness is not a Christian virtue; it isn’t sinful to be sad. While preparing to worship God, we need to hear this instead, “How many of us want to be holy?“