I was recently asked to preach on worship, and how growing in our worship life is a means to growing in God. I believe some people come to this issue wondering if this is simply a dubious appeal to emotion and others wondering where exactly is the biblical connection between delighting in God and growing in God. Or, to put it another way, whether the Bible teaches that there is a connection between worshipping and getting more of God. The answer is "yes" in very many places. In the sermon I got to linger on just two psalms, 27 and 84.
In Ps 27:4, David, yearning for more of God says "one thing I ask of God, this is what I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life." This dwelling in the house of God - living in God's presence - is fleshed out in two following statements. This is what it meant for David to dwell in God's presence:
- To gaze on the beauty of the Lord
- To seek him in his temple
But that leaves worship just half complete. The second half says that what we enjoy, the one that ravishes our souls with his beauty, is the one we therefore seek and pursue. We say with David "What I see of you, Lord, delights me, and therefore I seek you. I enjoy you, therefore I want more of you. You overwhelm me, therefore I want to be submitted to you and belong to you." Gazing leads to pursuing leads to submitting and belonging.
Then in v6 David gives a glimpse of what this looks like when he is with God's people. He says "I will do my service with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord." To those who are concerned about worship being merely emotion produced by music, Psalm 27 says that while singing isn't the foundation of worship, it surely is a natural symptom of a worshipping heart. Do we need to sing to worship? No. Would we be right to question whether someone who never finds their heart so enthralled that they want to sing his praises is a worshipper? Probably.
The connection between worshipping and getting more of God is also made explicit in Psalm 84. In this psalm pilgrims are going to Jerusalem, pursuing more of God. The reason for going is a deep desire for more. In v7 it says that as they get nearer God they go from strength to strength. They are pressing in. They realise that worshipping God and being near God go together. And that it is better than anything else on earth. One day in his courts is better than thousands elsewhere. Take all the pleasures found in the tents of the wicked and compare them in a balance with being a doorkeeper in God's house and the pleasure of God infinitely outwieghs everything.
The telling comparison is between v5-7 which says that those who are pursuing God are growing in the strength of God and are blessed, and v4 which says that those who dwell in his presence are blessed, ever singing his praises.
This was written to strengthen God's people by making us want more of God, and seeking it in worshipping him. This was written to make us dissatisfied with hearts that don't want more. This was written to make us discontented if we aren't growing in our worship life. This was written so that we will yearn for him, raise our affections to him and yield our lives to him in worship.