If you did a heart check, how would you describe your heart attitude this past week? In your relationships with others? How about before Sunday worship? How have you approached God privately? Do you know what it means to worship God in spirit and in truth? How’s your obedience? Do you “obey all the way, right away, with a happy heart?”
I have to admit that I, sometimes (dare I say, often), fall short in these areas!
1 Chronicles 15 & 16
What Do Wax, Cracks & Happy Hearts Have to Do with Worship?
By the Way … Bless Me
1 Chronicles 15 & 16:
If you remember, David’s first attempt to bring the stolen Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem hadn’t gone well (2 Sam. 6.6-8; 1 Chron. 13.1-10). But here in 1 Chronicles 15 we find David once again preparing to bring the Ark back. This time he does it in a way that is honoring to God (1 Chron. 15.1-15). Whether he spent time reading the scrolls or talking to the priests, he had learned the importance of following God’s specific instructions for moving it.
2 Then David said, “No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the Lord has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever.”
11 And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. 12 He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. 13 For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.”
14 So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. 15 And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.
Sometimes we, too, have a heart to do something for God, but we jump out there and do it without really seeking to understand if it’s the way He wants it done or if it’s His will. Instead of prayerfully seeking Him, we go do our own thing and then ask God to bless our plan.
In Spirit and Truth
Everything the Israelites did in regard to the ark was part of their worship. It represented the presence of God with them.
When it comes to worship, we can be thankful that we have a new and better covenant as the book of Hebrews tells us (Heb. 8.6). We are no longer under the ceremonial law with all of its restrictions and prohibitions (like “don’t touch the ark, unless you’re a Levite”). But the Old Testament laws were given so that we might better understand who God is.
In this case, that He is a holy God and should be honored as such. In the New Testament Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4.24).
Worship is to come from the heart, in sincerity. The word “sincere” means “without wax.” In ancient times if pottery was of poor quality, it would get small cracks. To cover them up, merchants would fill the cracks with wax. When we worship Him in sincerity—”without wax”—we do it without hypocrisy, openly, with pure hearts, honestly confessing our sins to Him, because, while we may be able to fool others by putting some wax in the cracks, we cannot fool God.
The Sweet Psalmist of Israel
Psalm 78.12-16 & 1 Chronicles 16.8-36:
In Psalm 78 the psalmist continued to extol the works of God which we have talked about before, so instead of commenting on those verses I’d like to talk about David’s psalm in our Chronicles reading (1 Chron. 16.8-36).
David is called “the sweet psalmist of Israel.” What a beautiful example we see here. Especially note the verbs and what they show us about how to praise and worship God, such as: give thanks, call, sing, talk, glory, seek, remember, proclaim, declare, give, bring, tremble, and say.
As you worship God in the days to come, it might be good to look back at this psalm and incorporate some of those ideas into your worship, if you don’t already.
All the Way, Right Away, with a Happy Heart
Verse 23a, “The fear of the Lord leads to life.”
The fear of the Lord is not the cowering fear of an abusive God who is just waiting to clobber us because we fall short. It’s worshipful respect.
But it’s, also, knowing that God is God and that He loves us enough to discipline us if we’re determined to go our own way instead of His. He does so because He knows that His way is the way that leads to life no matter how it looks to us.
Living in the fear of the Lord doesn’t just involve our one on one relationship with Him. It is how we live our lives every minute of every day. It’s obeying His commands and precepts in all areas of our lives. It’s how we treat others, our attitude toward authority, our motives for all that we do and much more.
Sometimes when I counsel younger children I teach them a phrase I learned many years ago from Ginger Hubbard, “Obey all the way, right away, with a happy heart!”
That’s good advice for all of us, but does that mean? Continue reading