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The Scriptorium

How Worship Works

Public and private. Psalm 119.108

Psalm 119.105-112 (4)

Pray Psalm 119.108.
Accept, I pray, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD,
And teach me Your judgments.

Sing Psalm 119.107, 108.
(Slane: Be Thou My Vision)
I am afflicted and sorely distressed;
O Lord, revive me that I may be blessed.
Teach me Your Word, Lord, my thanks I proclaim;
Off’rings of praise I declare to Your Name!


Read Psalm 119.105-112; meditate on verse 108.


Preparation

1. What did the psalmist do with his mouth?

2. How did God respond?

Meditation
This verse is the most succinct description in all of Scripture concerning how worship works. We seem to think that worship is mainly about preaching and whatever message the pastor has on his heart. We regard worship as an activity, the primary purpose of which is somehow to “lift” or “encourage” them. We judge a worship service as spot on when we come out of it and say, “Man, I really got a lot out of that service” or, more typically, “sermon”, since for most folks the sermon is what worship is about, mainly.

But our psalmist counsels us to think otherwise. In worship we empty ourselves by making offerings to the Lord with our mouths – of praise, thanks, needs, and even renewed vows. This is how we should worship every day. We come before the Lord in all His worthiness (“worth-ship”) to empty ourselves of all our adoration, gratitude, confession, repentance, supplications, and vows as gifts, believing and praying as we do that He will “accept” them. Worship is about God, recognizing His greatness, majesty, and love, and offering to Him all that is due Him of our lives – which is every aspect of our lives.

Then, we wait on the Lord to see how He will respond (Jer. 33.3). Silence and silent prayer are appropriate here. We expect great things, mysteries, confirmations, promises, and a fuller revelation of Jesus to fill and sustain us. We have offered ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord, and now, in the ministry of the Word that follows, He indicates His having heard and accepted our offerings. And beyond that, He invites us to feed on His body and blood to seal and renew our relationship with Him.

Preaching should be more spontaneous, less scripted, and briefer than is often the case. To righlty close the worship loop, preachers should incorporate what they have heard in the “offerings” part of worship, addressing these offerings specifically – enlarging on praises, speaking God’s Word to supplications, offering comfort and encouragement to all, according to their offerings, and pointing the way into the Supper of the Lord, now and in that great day to come. For only in Him do our offerings find their proper rest and we the strength to continue in God’s Word always.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb.13.15). The psalmist refers to this as “freewill offerings” of his mouth (Ps. 119.108). Sometimes we think better when we are talking. Today, our daughter Kristy and I had a lengthy conversation, full of joy and laughter; and we also discussed three important topics. As we talked about each of them, the Lord began to enlighten us in His special way. We always know that the Lord Jesus is listening in on our conversation and is an active participant with us, for so He has promised (Matt. 18.20). We come away from our weekly conversations feeling like it has been a time of worship.

Talking about things, when the Lord is in the midst, brings enlightenment and wisdom and hope.

This is true for worship as well. Worship directed solely upon the Lord works best when we are speaking those freewill offerings to our beloved Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Talking clarifies our love. Expression deepens impression. We hear ourselves declaring our love, our needs, our longings, and our desire to be more like Jesus. Confession of sin is appropriate, and spoken rejoicing over our forgiveness brings delight. The prophet Hosea instructed Israel in how to do this properly: “O Israel, return to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity; take words with you, and return to the LORD. Say to Him, ‘Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips” (Hos. 14.1, 2).

We must declare Whom we believe. Jesus wanted to hear His disciples say Who they thought He was. He asked them two questions: “Who do the crowds say that I am?” Then, “But who do you say that I am?” (Lk. 9.18, 20)

Say it out loud. Who do you say that He is?

When we have declared that, then we must ask to be taught by Him (Ps. 119.108). Because one is not good without the other. Our belief and our worship must be complete.

Communication is a gift from God. We must employ words to praise, honor, and glorify Him. He wants to hear them. This is how worship works. It is a daily labor into godliness.

For reflection
1. Why is it important to offer sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving to God?

2. Do you ever pray out loud? Do you think doing so might enhance your time of worship with the Lord? Explain.

3. How can you encourage your fellow believers during times of worship?

The psalmist is often afflicted; but with longing desires to become more holy, offers up daily prayers for quickening grace. We cannot offer any thing to God, that he will accept but what he is pleased to teach us to do. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Psalm 119.108

Pray Psalm 119.105, 106.
Offer praise and thanks to the Lord. Renew your vows to Him. Call on Him to guide and direct your steps all day long.

Sing Psalm 119.105, 106.
(Slane: Be Thou My Vision)
Your Word a lamp is to brighten my way.
Lord from Your pathway let me never stray!
I give my word now as I have before:
Your righteous Law I will keep ever more.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Psalm 119 by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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