Friday Sermon | Corporate Worship by Phil Johnson

RefMT15Today’s sermon is more of a lecture that comes from this year’s Reformation Montana Conference in Billings, MT. Pastor Phil Johnson shares a lecture on Corporate Worship from the Psalms of Ascent of David.

Phil Johnson is Executive Director of Grace to You, the media ministry of John MacArthur. Phil is also an elder at Grace Community Church, where he pastors the Grace Life fellowship group. He is probably best known for his websites, which include The Spurgeon Archive and The Hall of Church History. Phil’s wife, Darlene, has been his partner in life and ministry since 1978. Together they raised three sons and now delight in being grandparents to five prodigiously cute children.

Lecture Audio

alternate link:

Lecture Text

Psalm 122 (ESV) | Let Us Go to the House of the Lord
A Song of Ascents. Of David.

122 I was glad when they said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
Our feet have been standing
    within your gates, O Jerusalem!

Jerusalem—built as a city
    that is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up,
    the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for Israel,
    to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
There thrones for judgment were set,
    the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
    “May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls
    and security within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions’ sake
    I will say, “Peace be within you!”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your good.

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Phil Johnson does a great job of exegeting this passage, comparing and contrasting several interpretations and providing insightful background, context, and application. I pray you find it both edifying and encouraging.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV)

20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

Friday Sermon | “The Superiority of Scripture” by Phil Johnson

PhilJohnson-GraceLifeFor today’s good sermon, we’ll be visiting Grace Life Church’s online ministry the Grace Life Pulpit. Our sermon for today is delivered by Phil Johnson and was preached on Sunday, January 11, 2015.

Grace Life Pulpit provides a transcript on their website here.

If you’d rather just listen to this sermon click the link below:

The sermon text is Psalm 19.

Psalm 19 (ESV)

The Law of the Lord Is Perfect
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
    which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can discern his errors?
    Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
    let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
    and innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

In Christ Jesus,

DiM | “I Am Not Alone” by Kari Jobe

Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

March 31, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “I Am Not Alone” by Kari Jobe which currently sits at #16 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

We’ll continue using this top 20 song list until I find a better list. Your feedback in this would be greatly appreciated.

Today’s song is beautifully sung, and wonderfully (and simply) composed. Overall, it is reminiscent of the writing style of the Psalms, the singer is both calling out to God and confessing that He is the singer’s Salvation. I would have liked to have seen the song progress into more of a corporate understanding of God being our salvation and I really wish the industry as a whole would drop the whole “walking through deep waters” bit (more on that later). All in all, I think this song is fairly helpful for the individual Christian, though it does not preach Law and Gospel so it does not benefit the unbeliever.

VEVO Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLOVE)

I Am Not Alone by Kari Jobe

When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me
When I’m standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear

You amaze me
Redeem me
You call me as Your own

You’re my strength
You’re my defender
You’re my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You’ve always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul

Publishing: © 2014 Worship Together Music / KAJE Songs (BMI) (Admin. at / Small City Music (APRA) (admin. by Music Services) / Sony/ATV Tree Music Publishing / Upside Down Under (ASCAP) / Ben Davis Publishing / Watershed Music Publishing (BMI) (Admin. By Watershed Music Co.)
Writer(s): Kari Jobe, Marty Sampson, Mia Fieldes, Ben Davis, Grant Pittman, Dustin Sauder, and Austin Davis


The first verse paints a picture of persecution, reminiscent of several of the Psalms that call out for help from the Lord God. For the life of me, I don’t know why the industry is fixated on this “walk through deep waters” bit save for following Hillsong’s lead. Perhaps it is just a bit clunky of an attempt to invoke the sense of drowning in one’s circumstance, but we aren’t led to walk into deep water, so why is the singer walking into deep water? We are led through valleys of shadow, which is a good place to round out the first verse. The middle portion reminds me of Nebuchadnezzar’s Furnace. Again, they were thrown into the fire for having stood on the Word of God in opposition to a false god, and idol. Let us look at that story in Daniel 3 first, and then we’ll look at a couple of Psalms to maybe better frame the imagery of this first verse.

Daniel 3:14-28 (ESV) | The Fiery Furnace

14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. Andwho is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so,our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took upShadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.

I copied the whole portion, because the point of this entire narrative isn’t simply that “we can stand in the fire and God will be with us”; rather, that no matter what happens, all is done by God for the Glory of God (Soli Deo Gloria).

Now, let us look to the first portion of Psalm 69 for a framework to deal with the whole deep waters bit.

Psalm 69:1-18 (ESV) | Save Me, O God

To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. Of David.
1 Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
2 I sink in deep mire,
    where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
    and the flood sweeps over me.
3 I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.
4 More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
those who attack me with lies.
What I did not steal
must I now restore?
5 O God, you know my folly;
    the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
6 Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,
O Lord God of hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me,
O God of Israel.
7 For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
    that dishonor has covered my face.
8 I have become a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my mother’s sons.
9 For zeal for your house has consumed me,
    and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
10 When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting,
it became my reproach.
11 When I made sackcloth my clothing,
I became a byword to them.
12 I am the talk of those who sit in the gate,
and the drunkards make songs about me.
13 But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.
    At an acceptable time, O God,
    in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.
14 Deliver me
    from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
    and from the deep waters.
15 Let not the flood sweep over me,
    or the deep swallow me up,
    or the pit close its mouth over me.
16 Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good;
    according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
17 Hide not your face from your servant;
for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.
18 Draw near to my soul, redeem me;
ransom me because of my enemies!

It’s quite the wonderful Psalm, I do encourage you to read the full Psalm, we’ve only read half of it. Finally, for the closing out of the first verse, we have an allusion to the 23rd Psalm.

Psalm 23 (ESV) | The Lord Is My Shepherd

A Psalm of David.
23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3     He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

The Chorus is simple and straightforward. I am not alone, for God will go before me and will never leave me. The second verse keeps within the framework established in the first. I was really excited to see the lines at the close of the second verse, “Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear“. Amen, what a wonderful confession. The Lord fights our every battle, and It is Finished. There is a wonderful shift in the focus of the song toward the end… a shift from the singer to the Lord.

You amaze me
Redeem me
You call me as Your own

You’re my strength
You’re my defender
You’re my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You’ve always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul

If there were anything else I’d want from the song, is that should this song be incorporated into Sunday Morning worship, as a special or what have you, there should be a switch from the Individual to the Corporate. We are not alone, for there are many members of the Body of Christ.

Romans 12:3-5 (ESV)3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

In Christ Jesus,

DiM | “Shoulders” by for KING & COUNTRY

ApprovedToday is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

March 17, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Shoulders” by for KING & COUNTRY which currently sits at #13 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

We’ll continue using this top 20 song list until I find a better list. Your feedback in this would be greatly appreciated.

I’m pleased to present today’s song for a couple of reasons. First, and foremost, it’s a lyrically sound song. Secondly, the band for KING & COUNTRY has been reviewed a couple of times here in their collaboration with Lecrae and it hasn’t gone well. I’m happy to see a popular artist put out a good song that makes it onto the top 20 chart.

Official Audio

Lyrics (via KLOVE)

Shoulders by for KING & COUNTRY

When confusion’s my companion
And despair holds me for ransom
I will feel no fear
I know that You are near
When I’m caught deep in the valley
With chaos for my company
I’ll find my comfort here
‘Cause I know that You are near

My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders

You mend what once was shattered
And You turn my tears to laughter
Your forgiveness is my fortress
Oh Your mercy is relentless

My help is from You
Don’t have to see it to believe it
My help is from you
Don’t have to see it, ‘cause I know, ‘cause I know it’s true

Writer(s): Luke Smallbone / Joel Smallbone / Ben Glover / Tedd Tjornhom

The reading at the start of the video above is from a bad paraphrase (parody, really) of Psalm 121. Seriously, everyone should just burn their copy of “the Message” parody of the Bible. Nevertheless, the Psalm is a great Psalm and should be read properly from a solid translation. We’ll look at it from the ESV.

Psalm 121 (ESV) | My Help Comes from the Lord
A Song of Ascents.

121 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.


Starting with Psalm 121, the MSG version misinterprets verses 1-2. This Psalm is included as a song of Ascents (Psalm 120 through 134), and the MSG calls this one a pilgrim’s song. The Pilgrim isn’t considering whether or not the mountain (or the hills) is the source of his strength, he’s looking to the hills as his destination and asking from where will he get help to reach God’s Holy Hill. He knows and confesses the answer in the second verse, “my help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth”. The pronoun switches from “I” to “you” for the rest of the Psalm, where the teacher/priest/pastor speaks words of encouragement to the Pilgrim and praise to the Lord. It’s a great place to start when composing a song

Verse 1. The first verse could very well be a reflection of Psalm 121. It might also borrow from Psalm 23:4 (ESV), “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me”. I think the reference to “company” here is that of a military eschelon just under Battallion. If so, let’s take a look at Psalm 27.

Psalm 27 (ESV) | The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation
Of David.

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
9 Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

Such a wonderful Psalm.

Chorus. I know we often point out major shortfalls in popular songs; however, I firmly believe that most of these major shortfalls only need slight corrections to the lyrics to convey Truths revealed in Scripture. The chorus begins with the confession that our help comes from the Lord (as we see in the Psalms). I love the imagery of the Lord carrying our weakness, sickness, and brokenness on His shoulders. The image of our Savior on the cross comes to mind.

Isaiah 53 (ESV)

1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Amen. This reference to Christ on the cross is coded in pronoun, so this song is aimed at the Believer rather than the unbeliever. But the song is consistent, the pronouns don’t flip-flop, it’s a solid reference to the Lord God as the source of our help, our rescue, our Salvation. My favorite line in the Chorus is the declaration of faith, “I don’t have to see to believe…” Amen. I don’t want to beat up on Thomas, but I’m reminded of Jesus’ Words to him in John 20:29 (ESV) “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Verse 2. This verse is one of restoration as a result of the help of the Lord. The mending of the broken, the laughter from tears. Let’s look to another of the Song of Ascents, Psalm 126.

Psalm 126 (ESV) | Restore Our Fortunes, O Lord
A Song of Ascents.

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.
4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negeb!
5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

For those of us who are partakers in the New Covenant, our fortress isn’t earthly in Zion; rather, it is in the assurance of the forgiveness that can only be found in Christ. So my favorite references in this song are the references to forgiveness and to faith in God’s Salvation. I am encouraged by this song, both in its production and in its popularity. I pray the rest of the songs on this album are as faithful to SCripture. I would still like to see repentance addressed in a more meaningful way, but I think this song is a vast improvement over many on the top-20.

Even if the song on its own didn’t take you to these passages, it is my hope that from this day forward, these passages will be brought to mind each time you hear this song played on the radio. Be blessed and encouraged by the Truth, that our Hope is in Christ Jesus… His finished work on the cross, and His immanent and assured return for His Church.

In Christ Jesus,

CTT | Praise, Worship, and Music

CTTAs we start to focus more and more on Discernment in Music posts, the need to clearly define some of our terminology becomes clear. There is a tendency in modern evangelicalism of treating Praise and Worship as interchangeable terms. I believe that to be an error in theology. Worse, there is a tendency to treat both Praise and Worship as pertaining only to music and singing. If you asked today’s evangelical youth to define Praise and Worship, you’d probably get a breakdown along the lines of “praise is when you’re rockin’ out for God, and worship is the slower music before the sermon”. Worship and Praise are not the same thing, and neither is defined by music, singing, or dancing.

Worship ≠ Praise ≠ Music

Today’s post will not be an exhaustive treatment of this thesis; rather, it might be considered more of an introduction. It will not be a short post. The visible church has been overwhelmed by this music-centric understanding of Praise and Worship for decades… Hillsong, Vineyard, and Jesus Culture have built empires on this error of theology, and that doesn’t happen overnight. Don’t take my word on this, but take what I’m presenting here to the Word of God to see if it is True.

For the empiricist reader, I fully recognize that you “feel something” whenever you are engaged in “corporate worship” of a certain sound, a certain vibe, and many of you attribute that sensation to the Holy Spirit’s approval of the music, singing, and other inclusions of art in the “worship service”. There is often the argument of, “there is power in praise and worship music”… and to that I will agree. However, let me urge you to suspend that thought for just a second, and consider that while there is clearly emotive power in music, that doesn’t necessarily constitute God’s approval. The thought, “I really enjoyed that” shouldn’t morph into “the Presence of God was there”… but it does in evangelical speak. The world can manipulate the emotions and the senses through the arts better than any of today’s mega-church corporations… and we see this when they constantly copy the world’s techniques. The world has perfected the art of staging a concert down to scientific and engineering detail. Emotional manipulation through the arts is a multi-billion dollar industry (Movies, Music, TV, and Internet).


I’m a big fan of music. I find enjoyment in a wide array of musical styles and genres. I have played in Church worship teams, sung background and the occasional lead, and ran a small mobile DJ business that I handed over to my little brother when I enlisted in the US Army. I love music. Is it possible to incorporate music and the arts into our proper Praise of God? Absolutely.

Psalm 150 (ESV) | Let Everything Praise the Lord
1 Praise the Lord!Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

Throughout Chronicles whenever King David directed the people of Israel to Praise the Lord he assigned musicians and singers to mark the event. He had instruments made and he wrote many songs and hymns. He also had chief musicians who wrote Psalms. You’ll find hundreds of songs and references to songs throughout the Bible… but you won’t find the arrangements. You’ll find the lyrics, but not the melody. Music can add emotion to lyrics, but it cannot sanctify them. When God ensured His Word was recorded and preserved throughout the generations unto this day, He preserved His Word, but not the musical arrangement. Why is that? Because in Christ we have musical freedom, but we dare not neglect or abuse His Word. Praise doesn’t require music. Music is a gift to us from God that can be used to heighten our emotional engagement with the substance of our Praise (God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), but music is in no way required for praise. The music doesn’t make the praise, it is the Praise that makes the music pleasing to God. Praise Him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!


What is praise? In a secular sense, praise is the act of expressing approval or admiration; commendation; laudation ( The focus of the definition isn’t on the act; rather, on the substance of what is being sung/spoken. There are cases where the praise might purely contextually based, such that an outsider may find the praise ambiguous. For example, if a group of people are gathered in the living room to watch a team sporting event on TV… everyone might cheer a great play without articulating what was assumed to be witnessed by all. Everyone might simply yell, “YEAH!” or “WOOHOO” while throwing their hands up in the air. That is praise. It isn’t very clear praise for someone who didn’t witness the play, or has no knowledge of what is taking place on the television. However, if the outsider were to ask any one of them what they were praising, we’d expect them all to articulate the object of their praise (e.g. the great play). Before we abandon this analogy, please note that as the crowd grows larger, the likelihood of one of the “praisers” not understanding what they were praising or why grows. What becomes of that individual? They are either labeled a “false fan” of the game, or a fan of being a fan, or a praiser of praise irrespective of the object of said praise… they just like seeing folks “happy”. Sadly, many a modern church congregation fits this sports fan analogy better than what is prescribed of a Church in the New Testament.

Turning to the Scriptures, I’m going to stick with a solid English interpretation of the Bible and will not be diving into the Ancient Hebrew or the Koine Greek. For those of you who have faithfully studied the Biblical languages, feel free to search these things out in the original texts. We’ll start by a rough examination of the use of the word “praise” in the ESV, beginning in Genesis.
The first time we see this word is in Genesis 12. God called Abrahm to leave his country and his father’s house and go to the land that He would show Abram. Abram believed the Word of the Lord and obeyed. He took his wife, Sarai, and followed as the Lord led him. Let us pick up in verse 10.

Genesis 12:10-15 (ESV) | Abram and Sarai in Egypt
10 Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, 12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.” 14 When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.

So, in this historical narrative, we find out that Sarai is indeed beautiful in appearance, so much so that Abram fears for his life and opts to lie about her. The Egyptians praised her to Pharaoh. What does that mean? They communicated to Pharaoh what they saw and knew about Sarai. They had esteemed her greatly and were praising her as one in whom the Pharaoh should take interest. They had been given wrong information regarding her, but their praise of her beauty was not wrong. They were praising what they had witnessed.

Skip ahead to Genesis chapter 29, we find Isaac’s son, Jacob, and his two wives Leah and Rachel. Jacob had entered into an agreement with Laban to marry Rachel, but Laban tricked Jacob into first marrying Leah, Rachel’s olders sister, so Jacob then had to promise to work longer for Laban to finally marry Rachel. Now Jacob has 2 wives but loved Rachel and hated (“loved less” in this sense) Leah. Let’s pick up in verse 31.

Genesis 29:31-35 (ESV) | Jacob’s Children
31 When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” 33 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. 34 Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. 35 And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing.

Our first introduction to the concept of praise reflects an expression of witness of the beauty of Sarai. Here, we see praise as an expression of thanksgiving for what God has done for Leah. It is expressed in his name, Judah. It is fitting, then, that the Promise of the Messiah is given to the tribe of Judah.

Genesis 49:8-12 (ESV) | Jacob Blesses His Sons
8 “Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons shall bow down before you.
9 Judah is a lion’s cub;
from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down; he crouched as a lion
and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;
and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
11 Binding his foal to the vine
and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
he has washed his garments in wine
and his vesture in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes are darker than wine,
and his teeth whiter than milk.

Judah will be praised for what God will do through his generations. In Revelation 5, Jesus Christ is identified as the Lion of Judah.

Revelation 5:1-5 (ESV) | The Scroll and the Lamb
1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Praise begins and ends in God the Father and God the Son. We offer praises to God for who He Is and what He has Done. As we close out Genesis and move into Exodus, we find our next occurrence of the word “praise” in the Song of Moses, Exodus 15.

Exodus 15:1-3 (ESV) | The Song of Moses
1 Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying,
“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
2 The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
3 The Lord is a man of war;
the Lord is his name.

God is being praised in this moment (and forevermore) for who He is (our strength, our song, and our salvation) and for what He has done. The remainder of this song is confession of what the Lord has done by His Mighty Hand. Miriam led the singing with tambourines. This song is revisited and expanded in Psalm 106, and was likely accompanied by a greater complement of instruments. Psalm 106 extends this theme of thanksgiving for God’s grace and mercy and mighty works for a sinful and forgetful people, Israel.

I’ve heard it said in multivarious ways by various people that they just couldn’t get into the Praise at a given church due to its music. It is one thing to be distracted by technological problems, painful volume levels, or having music that is very poorly played, but to cite a musical style as inhibitive of Praising God is folly. Sometimes the phrasing comes out, “it doesn’t feel like the Holy Spirit is free to move in their worship service”. I think that the vast majority simply haven’t been taught what Praise really is. If you are finding it hard to Praise God (with or without music), I submit to you that it is due to not having an understanding of who God is, what He has done, who you are, or you have an unhealthy fixation on your own senses.


Worship isn’t a subset of music. It isn’t the “slow songs”, though it is possible for a slow song to be sung in worship. Praise is a subset of Worship. Music can be used to enhance our worship, so long as it doesn’t become the object of our worship. Let’s start with the basics, but I want to begin with something Jesus told the Samaritan at the well.

John 4:19-26 (ESV)
19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

What is the context of the Samaritan’s reference to worship? If you think it’s singing slow songs, you’ve missed the greater meaning of worship. She is contrasting the Samaritan worship up in the mountain, but the Jews declared the only place of worship was in Jerusalem. She is referring to the Temple. Worship, in the Mosaic Covenant, encapsulated all that took place in the Temple of God (first the tabernacle). If we look back through Genesis as we did with Praise, we’ll see that the first forms of worship mentioned are the sacrifices to God.

Genesis 22:1-8 (ESV) | The Sacrifice of Isaac
1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

In its purest sense, Worship is the act of serving God. The sacrifices of the Law, the bowing of the head in reverence to God, the prayers, and also the songs of praise are all forms of Worship. The Law articulated what it was for Israel to worship God, and it also set limits as to what forms of worship were strictly forbidden. This is what is being discussed at the well in Samaria. The Samaritans were guilty of mixing Jewish worship with the worship of false gods. They kept the old “high places” built to false gods and incorporated the Asherim and other gods of the Assyrians in their religion. This is why the Jews despised them so, they were not merely a people of mixed bloodlines, but of mixed religion. Jesus’s answer to her isn’t to pick a side between Samaritans and Jews; rather, it is to declare that He had come to reconcile all men unto God through Himself. This Samaritan, was waiting for the Messiah, the Promised One… and He presented Himself to her.

The New Testament clearly demonstrates what it means to be a true worshiper of God, that it is only done by faith, and that faith is the gift of God. In the New Covenant we still have prayer, the Psalms, the public reading of the Word (Law and Gospel), and Christ instituted communion. What do we do about the sacrifices? Our giving is still an act of worship, if our hearts are right (Sermon on the mount). The book of Hebrews does an excellent job of teaching worship in the context of the New Covenant.

Hebrews 12:18-29 (ESV) | A Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken
18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 13:1-21 (ESV) | Sacrifices Pleasing to God
1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. 19 I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.

20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Amen. Let us clean up our understanding of Worship that is pleasing to God, and then let us strive to correct the language. Corporate Worship is everything you do as a gathered assembly of believers. We may sing songs of Praise, but everything we do in service of our God and Saviour is to be worship offered by faith, in spirit and in truth. Your giving, your prayer, your speech, your attire, your embraces, and your kisses, do all as an act of Worship to the Glory of God, whom you serve (Worship).

In Christ Jesus,