My notes from the evening session on Day 3 of the FIEC Leaders’ Conference. Bobby Warrenburg was preaching from Psalm 34.
Every single person has a hunger for transcendence. The greatest gift our church can offer the world is the gift of praise and worship.
Psalm 34 is all about praise and worship.
1. The Context of Worship
The most striking feature of this psalm is the context in which it was written. If ever there was a low point for David, it had to be this moment when he pretend to be insane, a mad man before Abimelech. Yet it was on that precise occasion that David crafts this song for us and says taste and see that the Lord is good.
This Psalm was written by a sufferer and written for sufferers. Paul Miller wrote an honest and practical book on prayer and within it he writes about the promises God making not matching up with everyday life. How do we respond to this?
People often respond by trying to close the gap. They deny the problem or they are determined to fix the problem. Both of these are ways to take the reality line and push it up to the promise line. Alternatively to disengage, to say I’ve had it, I don’t see God at work in my life.
David is not doing any of those things. He’s not becoming cynical on one hand or denying on the other hand. He is honest about the suffering we go through (v4, 19) He’s speaking to God and going after God.
How does he manage that? How does David live with this gap?
2. The Core of Worship
In verse 1-3 several words unpack nature of worship. Extol – recognising God’s power. Glorify – enlarging magnifying God’s greatness. These are words that add texture and colour to worship.
One word gets to the essence of what worship is – boast (v2). Boast is not a word you use everyday. Not a great thing to be a boaster.
Boast is a reflexive verb, that is, a verb when you do the action and receive the action. For example – shaving, sleeping, forgetting, washing. Boast is that kind of word.
Boasting in the Lord is not so much as giving honour, glory, value, esteem – it is about where you get those things and receive those things. Boasting is building your identity on [Blank]. The reason David can go through the loss of everything, is because as good of those things are, they are not the basis of David’s identity, that how he can be this man of boasting all the time.
Paul Tripp writes about how pastors are constantly evangelising ourselves about where we find significance, well-being, and if you don’t get them from your union with Christ you will seek them horizontally in the ministry you have.
How do we re-orient that?
David wants the truth we understand to be truth we stand under. You will never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have. God breaks the schemes of our earthly joy so we find our all in him. So we build our identity on the Lord.
3. The Composite of Worship
In verses 11 to 22 there is a shift. David stops from singing a hymn to preaching a sermon.
What it looks like to have this lifestyle of worship? The expectation is that it is going to be really hard. David is sharing all his experiences.
One verse that David doesn’t know anything about is verse 20. He protects all of his bones and not one of them is broken. When a Jewish person dies, their family gathers the bones and puts them in the tomb, saying our hope is in the Lord. They are trusting the bones to God. David hadn’t done that yet – he’s writing this psalm.
There was a king, a sufferer who entrusted his bone to the Lord. In John 19 the soldiers don’t need to break bones because he’s already dead. Apostle John saw this psalm not just as a description of David, but a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you had been there on that day that Jesus was crucified, and stood at foot of the cross, and looked up you would not have said that this was God keeping his promises. That’s the gap between promises and reality. And yet that precise moment God is achieving the greatest salvation in history. At that moment God is closing the gap between promise and reality.
How do you know that God isn’t doing the same thing in your life? How do you know that this suffering is not God doing something beautiful in your life?
Sometimes in the deepest darkest places you can find the Lord but you can also find people who boast in Him.