What is the Christian’s motive when worshipping God? Hopefully, it is to adore God and grow in a relationship with Him. Perhaps others worship out of duty and ritual, not giving much thought to God’s pleasure. Still, others may worship to appear holy and convince potential onlookers. In Psalm 50, Asaph is encouraging proper motive in the worship of “The Mighty One, God, the Lord” (v. 1). This is the first of twelve psalms (50, 73-83) of Asaph, a worship leader with David (1 Chronicles 15:16-17). When a worship leader addresses the people at the beginning of a worship experience, their most important objective should be to focus the congregation’s heart, mind, soul, and strength towards the primary purpose of why they showed up that day: to worship God. Worshipping God isn’t about entertainment. It isn’t about our preferences of style or song selection. We don’t show up to the church to appease spousal or parental expectations. We don’t go through the motions to compare ourselves to others or garner religious favor from others. We call it worship for a reason: to adore and revere God.
Asaph reminded worshippers it is God Who “summons…that He may judge His people” (v. 4). We don’t show up to worship because we feel like it that day. God calls us to worship. During worship, we, a “consecrated and covenantal people” must allow God to deal with our sins (v. 3) as He is a holy God “perfect in beauty” (v. 2). He will judge hearts righteously for He is just (v. 6). Asaph described how God judges three kinds of worshippers: those who do so out of religious ritual (vv. 7-15), those who are wicked without remorse (vv. 16-21), and those who are sincere in honoring Him (vv. 22-23).
In verses 7-15, God addresses those who are truly His people (v. 7) but are just going through religious motions. God was not displeased with the vehicle that they were using to worship as He is the one Who commanded them to do it that way (Exodus 29:38-42). He wants their hearts, not their hands. They were those who, “come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught” (Isaiah 29:13). God doesn’t want our hand and lip motions; He wants our heart devotion. He doesn’t need the animals that were sacrificed (v. 9) as every one of them already belonged to Him (vv. 10-13). He wants their thankful devotion and honor (vv. 14-15).
To the wicked that showed up for church that day (v. 16), God said stop being hypocrites. They hate and ignore His Word (v. 17). Notice, during the worship service, He charged them with breaking some of the Ten Commandments: stealing, adultery, and slander (vv. 18-20). Its as if He also says they took His name in vain, falsely interpreting His temporary silence of their sin as approval (v. 21). Now they stand before the Lord being judged by Him and hopefully will repent and be shown salvation (v. 23). Those who truly revere the Lord, He forgives their sins (1 John 1:9), finds them “blameless” (v. 23), and “shows His salvation” because of Jesus’ sacrifice. This brings about true thank offerings to the Lord in worship.
- Do you consistently realize you stand before the Most High Lord, God, and Judge who knows the motive of your worship every time you worship?
- Is your worship hypocritical?
- Is your worship just religious ritual and tradition?
Lord, judge my heart in worship. Draw me to pure reverence that desires repentance, righteousness, and holiness. Help me not to replace authentic worship with religious ritualistic formalities. Judge my wicked heart by Your righteousness and holiness. You are the sole object and reason for my worship. I am devoted to You alone. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.