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Lesson 6: Worship and Song and Praise *

Introduction: When I was young, I used to wonder about the oddest things. For example, my parents told me that dogs see things only in black and white, they do not see in color. That made me wonder if I saw things just like other people? Could people see colors differently, and no one would know? These days, I wonder the same about worship. Do all Christians understand true worship? I recall in college the wonder and power of the singing in Pioneer Memorial Church. Get a couple of thousand people together, a pipe organ worth (I guess) hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Dr. Becker playing, and you could feel the power of praise! These days I feel it in much smaller groups with contemporary praise songs. King David felt it too, although we do not know exactly what kind of music he used. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and learn more about King David and his understanding about worshiping God!

  1. The Road to Rejoice

    1. Read Psalms 32:11. Do you want to be happy and glad? (Everyone does!)

      1. If someone gave you an expensive new car, would you be happy and glad?

        1. If the answer is, "yes," have you experienced a similar feeling when it comes to worshiping God? (Notice that our text refers to "rejoic[ing] in the Lord and be[ing] glad." The idea is that these feelings arise from a relationship with God.)

    2. Let's explore how King David got to this emotional point. Read Psalms 32:1. Do you have sins that you wish were gone?

      1. What does David suggest here about getting rid of sin? (That if we confess them, God will forgive the, He will "cover" them.)

    3. Read Psalms 32:2. What would it mean to have your sin "count" against you? (That some punishment or retribution will follow.)

      1. Why do you think the text mentions having a spirit "with no deceit?" (King David is not talking about hiding a secret sin and using it to harm others or mislead them. He is talking about us confessing and forsaking sin. He is talking about being transparent.)

    4. Read Psalms 32:3-4. Is this a feeling that you want? (No!)

      1. What is the reason for this feeling? (Not confessing sin.)

    5. Read Psalms 32:5. To whom did David confess his sin? (God!)

      1. If that is true, how can he talk about covering up his iniquity? God knows everything! (Since God knows everything, this must mean that we "cover" the sin in our own mind. We don't want to admit that what we are doing is sin. If we admitted it was sin, we would have to stop.)

      2. What happens when we confess to God, and not cover our sins? (God forgave David "the guilt of [his] sin.")

        1. How does it feel to be released from guilt?

      3. Let's take a little detour. Read Psalms 51:3-4. What do you think David means when he writes that his sin is "always before me." (This is a point prior to the release of guilt. Before the point of release, David cannot stop thinking about his sin. He just feels guilty.)

        1. What does David mean when he says that he has only sinned against God? I've got a couple of names of people who it would seem that David sinned against! (If we are able to undo the harm that we have created we should do that. But, the real sin issue is between God and me. The person you have sinned against cannot forgive your sin, only God can do that.)

    6. Read Psalms 32:6-7. Do you think that David is talking about rising waters and hiding from trouble? (I think he is still talking about the forgiveness of sin. When we confess our sins, it is like being delivered from high water or being hidden from frightening foes. It is a feeling of relief and gratitude.)

    7. Re-read Psalms 32:11. Do we better understand how we can get to this joy and gladness? (Yes! Confess and forsake sin. God will cover our sin, not count it against us, and we will feel like we were just saved from a terrible foe.)

    8. Read Psalms 32:8-9. What is the alternative? (We can either listen to what the Bible teaches us about the joy of leaving our sins behind, or we can be like a mule and get yanked around by our sin - and not understand why life is so hard.)

    9. Let's review. What is the first step toward true (and joyful) worship? (Confessing and forsaking sin. The joy and gratitude come from being released from sin and guilt. God lifts the sin from us and we rejoice.)

  2. Getting to the Right Attitude

    1. Read Psalms 51:5-6. What does this tell us about our sin problem? (Part of it is not our fault. We were born into sin.)

    2. Read Psalms 51:15-17. What does David mean when he says that God does not delight in sacrifice? I thought that we just learned that the path to joy in worship is to seek forgiveness of sin?

      1. What do you think David is trying to teach those of us who live after the time of the sanctuary service on earth? (David is talking about a mechanical approach to sin. Do you keep confessing the same sins so that the confession becomes a routine? God is not looking for dead animals. He is not looking for lifeless confessions. God is looking for a change in attitude.)

        1. What kind of attitude does God want? We normally mean something negative when we speak of a "broken spirit" or a "broken heart." (What is broken is our pride, our self-sufficiency. When we realize that we cannot fight sin on our own, when we realize that we need the power of the Holy Spirit, that triggers great gratitude.)

    3. Read Psalms 51:10. What is the goal of broken pride and dependence upon God? (A pure heart, a right spirit.)

    4. Do you see worship in a different light? Instead of thinking of worship as just singing, prayer or praise, we see that it grows naturally out of a right attitude. Gratitude that we are released from the guilt and payback of sin gives real power to our worship.

  3. Rejoicing in the Past

    1. Read 2 Samuel 22:1-4. Who is the focus of this song of praise? (God.)

      1. The next time that you are singing a hymn or song of praise, look at the lyrics carefully and determine who is being praised. Consider, for example, the hymn "Higher Ground." Here is part of it: "I'm pressing on the upward way, new heights I'm gaining every day, still praying as I'm onward bound, Lord, lead me on to higher ground." Who is being praised here?

    2. Read 2 Samuel 22:5-7. Is David sounding like the writer of "Higher Ground?" (No. It is true that David is singing about his past experiences, but he is not talking about his own success, he is talking about matters which threatened his life.)

    3. Let's skip down a few verses and read 2 Samuel 22:13-18. What is the point of David's song of praise? (That God has rescued him.)

      1. Do you ever look back at the past and think about the times that God has rescued you?

      2. We previously discussed attitudes of worship. How important to worship is the contemplation of past rescues from trouble? (God not only rescues us from sin, but He often rescues us from the troubles of life.)

    4. We started out talking about whether people see colors the same, and whether people feel the power of worship the same. King David teaches us that the power of emotion in worship comes from the release from sin, an attitude of dependence on God, and gratitude about what God has done for us not only with the sin problem, but with the trials and dangers of life. If these are the factors that you put into your worship, then you understand why King David danced before God in his enthusiastic praise!

    5. Friend, how about you? Jesus says ( Luke 7:47) "He who has been forgiven little loves little." God has saved you from eternal death. He has released you from sin and guilt. Does your worship reflect the enormous debt of gratitude you should have towards God? Or, would your worship be a reasonable setting for falling asleep? Will you determine today to give God the praise and honor He deserves, and not something half-hearted?

  4. Next week: Worship in the Psalms.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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