Click to read Part One – Worship Directions Intro
Click to read Part Two – Worship Up

Part Three: In

Worship also involves the direction of IN!

“My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.

So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches,
For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.
But those who seek my life to destroy it,
Will go into the depths of the earth.
They will be delivered over to the power of the sword; They will be a prey for foxes.

But the king will rejoice in God; Everyone who swears by Him will glory,
For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.”  Psalm 63:1-11, NAS95.

David saw God in the sanctuary. David was fortunate.   Few people in the Old Testament had the privilege of entering the Holy parts of the Sanctuary, where God dwelt in a special way. In that sense – most of the time – the Old Testament believers worshipped God at some distance.

Unfortunately we often do that too!  But we needn’t, we can worship God sitting on his lap! We can worship God embraced in His arms.

Now we can all enter in to the Holy Place through Jesus.

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,  by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,”  Hebrews 10:19, 20.

And the way we tread that open pathway of the new and living way, is by worshipping. We undergo some ‘movement’ in worship,  our praise goes up, but we, our very selves go in.

In one way this is still related to the ‘up’ dimension of worship.

If our praise goes ‘up’ to God because we picture Him as greater, as higher above us and our worldy circumstances, then when we approach God in worship, we also go ‘up’ to be with Him.

I imagine it as like a small child that runs up to a parent.

If you are a parent, think how often, when your child came to you as a toddler, did you then bend down to lift that child up, to pick them up, hold them at your level – and love them.

Worship is –  in the beginning – our running to God (the in) then it is God lifting us (the up).

The exchange from the spirit of heaviness to the garment of praise is what happens when we approach God in worship and that drawing near to Him causes us to ‘rise’ with him – be lifted up by him, and in Him. His nearness dispels our heaviness, our fears, even our failings. They drop away replaced by his presence.

Worship also has an in direction because our inner being is the place from which praise and worship springs.

“Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.” Psalm 103:1.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”  Proverbs 4:23.

The Lord offers to soften our hearts, to make them hearts of flesh not of stone, (Ezekiel 36:26) to create in us a new heart. Because it is from the heart that our expression of the worth-ship of God comes.

It is “from the fullness of the heart that the mouth speaks” Luke 6:45. Choose to worship God until there is peace and joy in your heart – then from your heart full of peace and joy – worship God.

Another worship in is that worship opens us up in a way that leads to the indwelling presence of God.

We found many occurrences of the phrase “lift up” in the Psalms a few pages ago. Often the things to be lifted up are the ‘gates’ of the city.

Isaiah associates our praise with our ‘Gates’

“No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.” Isaiah 60:18.

In some sense each of us is like a walled city and as we praise we open up,  we lift up our gates.

“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.” Psalm 24:7-9.

Opening the gates of the city was an act of becoming vulnerable. A risk. A cost. Yet in the case of this particular coming King, a risk worth taking!

At the start of this chapter we saw that we were created for God’s pleasure. But rather than it being anything special we do or say that pleases Him, I think it is our presence close to him, our movement on the worship directions, our drawing up and in, that warms His heart.

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17

One of the most touching things for me in life was to become a father and to have a little daughter after 13 years of being married but childless. Cradling her I used to sing her to sleep, but once she was asleep I didn’t just put her down in her cot and say to myself she’s asleep now, so I can go and do something else.

I’d often keep singing over her anyway. I would make up little songs about her. I would sing little songs over her, even while she had no idea – because I loved doing that. Because I loved her being near to me.

One of the most touching things for me in life was to become a father and to have a little daughter after 13 years of being married but childless. Cradling her I used to sing her to sleep, but once she was asleep I didn’t just put her down in her cot and say to myself she’s asleep now, so I can go and do something else.

I’d often keep singing over her anyway. I would make up little songs about her. I would sing little songs over her, even while she had no idea – because I loved doing that. Because I loved her being near to me.

As Zephaniah says, The Lord will rejoice over you in singing. You’ve never known how welcomed you were in his presence!

Our action in worship, drawing in and up to God brings Him pleasure. Here in Psalm 16 we discover our reaction to his presence. And in His presence there is fullness of joy, healing and peace, and pleasures forevermore.

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11.

Continue to part 4 – Worship Directions OUT