A Primer on Worship

Title: A Primer on Worship

Bible Book: Psalms 149 : 1-9

Author: Franklin L. Kirksey

Subject: Worship



"A primer on worship” is the way Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe describes Psalm 149.[1] The psalmist writes about the worship of the Redeemer by the redeemed.

Dr. John Henry Jowett (1864-1923), pastor, Westminster Chapel, London, laments, “We leave our places of worship and no deep and inexpressible wonder sits upon our faces. We can sing these lilting melodies; and when we get out into the streets, our faces are one with the faces of those who have left the theaters and music halls. There is nothing about us to suggest that we have been looking at anything stupendous and overwhelming. Far back in my boyhood I remember an old saint telling me that after some services he liked to make his way home alone, by quiet by-paths, so that the hush of the Almighty might remain on his awed and prostrated soul. That is the element we are losing.”[2]

From Psalm 149:1-9 we read, “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, / And His praise in the assembly of saints. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; / Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise His name with the dance; / Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; / He will beautify the humble with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory; / Let them sing aloud on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, / And a two-edged sword in their hand, / To execute vengeance on the nations, / And punishments on the peoples; / To bind their kings with chains, / And their nobles with fetters of iron; / To execute on them the written judgment—This honor have all His saints. Praise the Lord!”

Someone explains, “The Five Ws are questions whose answers are considered basic in information gathering. They are often mentioned in journalism (cf. news style), research, and police investigations. They constitute a formula for getting the complete story on a subject.”[3] These five Ws are “Who”, “What”, “Where”, “Why”, and “When”.

Please allow me to point out the Five Ws in this psalm.

I. Answering the “who” question.

Worshippers must be “Saints” (vv. 1, 5, 9). In fact, they must be “His people” (v. 4). This psalm exhorts “Israel / the children of Zion” (v. 2).

Later from John 4:5-26 we read, “So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?’ Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’

Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When He comes, He will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.’”

II. Answering the “what” question.

“Praise the LORD!” is a central theme of worship (vv. 1a, 9). Genuine worship is not stale. Therefore, we are to “Sing to the LORD a new song, and His praise” (v. 1b). Genuine worship is fresh and refreshing.

Dr. Herbert Lockyer, Sr. (1886-1984), shares, “A friend in a southern state writes:

I attended a youth service one Sunday night. The first words of the worship leader were these: ‘We are just going to hang loose tonight.’ I was stunned by the words—unlike the usual words of the dignified choral or spoken call, such as ‘The Lord is in His holy temple.’ But more than just breaking tradition, they made me question how much planning and rehearsal had gone into that service. As the program progressed, the congregation and I found the impromptu, haphazard event showed no preparation, no practice—just hopes that God would bless.

It reminded me of a college roommate who held a student pastorate. He would spend all week long working on his car or playing football. On Sunday morning he would say, ‘John, pray that the Lord will give me a sermon today.’

I don’t think we can expect God to bless our laziness. Whether it is a youth service or a college preacher’s sermon, I think God wants us to praise Him with our best talents and our best preparation before He sends His Holy Spirit to anoint and bless. I love the dignity and beauty of the Psalmist’s loving command, ‘Praise ye the Lord.’ It demands my best.”[4]

We read about those who gave less than their best in the worship of God in Malachi 1:6-8, “A son honors his father, / And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, / Where is My reverence? Says the Lord of hosts / To you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’ ‘You offer defiled food on My altar, / But say, / ‘In what way have we defiled You?’ / By saying, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’ And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, / Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, / Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?’ Says the Lord of hosts.”

While we no longer worship with animal sacrifices we are to bring sacrifices. We read in Hebrews 13:10-16, “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. 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. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

We must have the attitude of David when it comes to worship. From 1 Chronicles 21:18-26 we read, “Therefore, the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David that David should go and erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. So David went up at the word of Gad, which he had spoken in the name of the Lord. Now Ornan turned and saw the angel; and his four sons who were with him hid themselves, but Ornan continued threshing wheat. So David came to Ornan, and Ornan looked and saw David. And he went out from the threshing floor, and bowed before David with his face to the ground. Then David said to Ornan, ‘Grant me the place of this threshing floor, that I may build an altar on it to the Lord. You shall grant it to me at the full price, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people.’ But Ornan said to David, ‘Take it to yourself, and let my lord the king do what is good in his eyes. Look, I also give you the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing implements for wood, and the wheat for the grain offering; I give it all.’ Then King David said to Ornan, ‘No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.’ So David gave Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place. And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called on the Lord; and He answered him from heaven by fire on the altar of burnt offering.”

Dr. Isaac Watts (1674-1748) writes, “Were the whole realm of nature mine, / That were a present far too small; / Love so amazing, so divine, / Demands my soul, my life, my all.”[5]

While there is the danger of having a “praiseless” heart we must beware of offering heartless praise. It is essential for every believer to praise the Lord; however, this is not to the exclusion of explicit trust and obedience to the Lord. Properly rendered praise must come from a heart and life surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

III. Answering the “where” question.

Worshipping should take place “. . . in the assembly of His saints” (v. 1c). This is not the only place, but we are exhorted in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Edith Schaeffer, Christian author and co-founder of L’Abri with her late husband, Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984), shares, “I AWAKENED yesterday morning with music and words surging through my head: ‘Great is thy faithfulness; great is thy faithfulness; morning by morning new mercies I see . . . .” It was as if a full orchestra and choir were in my room; yet no sound could be heard by anyone else. What a fantastic detail of God’s creation—people can sing aloud, and can sing within; they can hear what is being sung or played in the room, or hear music in memory in the silence of a room.

God has made us with the capacity of being not just speaking people or writing people but singing people. On a dull, grey, foggy winter morning, that in itself is something to be excited about! Wake up and remember Psalm 149:5 and 6, ‘Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.’ And, ‘my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips, when I remember thee in the night watches’ (Ps. 63:5, 6). We don’t need to waken the whole household by bursting forth in song; we can rejoice in song in our heads at night, or start the day or the year that way!

‘Praise the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King’ (Psalm 149:1, 2). ‘Let them praise his name in the dance; let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp’ (Psalm 149:3). These songs are to have content; they are not just tunes without words, waiting for a revelation to come from outside. The songs are to praise the Lord who made us.”[6]

IV. Answering the “why” question.

“For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; / He will beautify the humble with salvation” (v. 4). Our salvation is the primary motivation to worship the Lord from a humble heart of gratitude. From James 4:6 we read, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Dr. W. H. Griffith Thomas (1861-1924) prayed, “OUR Gracious God and Father, we praise Thee for constant access to Thee in Jesus Christ. We bless Thee for Thy gifts day by day for spirit, soul and body. We thank Thee that Thou art ever the same in Thy unchanging love and grace and we rejoice that we may draw from Thy fullness each moment according to our needs. Grant to us a deep and increasing consciousness of the preciousness of Christ as our Divine Redeemer, and a growing assurance of the constant supply of Thy Holy Spirit for daily living. Teach us by that Spirit how to depend continually on Thy grace, and how to receive that grace by simple faith, and how to appropriate for our life the rich provision Thou makest for us. Then may Thy love be reflected in our daily conduct and may it constrain us to live to Thy praise, and to be the means of helping others as Thou art helping us. We desire to show ‘Whose we are and Whom we serve’ and to be a channel of blessing at home and abroad.

Bless our relatives and friends, with all needful grace, and give to them and to us such a deepening sense of Thy love that we may do our utmost to make known the Gospel to those in far off lands. And so for our loved ones, for our friends and acquaintances and for Thy whole Church, we seek the fullness of Thy blessing, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”[7]

V. Answering the “when” question.

When were they to worship? At the appointed times of corporate worship.

Dr. David Jeremiah explains, “Reading the elaborate and detailed plans God gave to Israel by which they were to worship in the Tabernacle illustrates the legitimacy of appointed times and places of worship. And yet as a backdrop to the appointed times of worship were the perpetual acts of worship which went on before the Lord day and night (Exodus 30:8; Leviticus 6:12; Leviticus 24:5-9).

But when we get to the New Testament, we find something different. Christians are the new temple and priests of God (1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 2:5, 9). Like the priesthood of old, we are to worship at appointed times as well as to worship perpetually.”[8]



Robert Grant (1779-1838) issues this impassioned call: “O worship the King, all glorious above, / And gratefully sing His wonderful love; / our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days, / Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.”[9]

While the context of these words recorded in Psalm 149 relate to saints in the Old Testament they have an application to saints in our day. With this in mind remember this psalm as a primer on worship.


[1]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Wisdom and Poetry, (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2004), p. 382, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.


[2]John Henry Jowett, The Transfigured Church, (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1910), p. 19


[3]Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Ws Accessed: 11/27/12


[4]Herbert Lockyer, Sr., God’s Book of Poetry: Meditations from the Psalms, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983), pp. 174-175


[5]Isaac Watts, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” (1707)


[6]Edith Schaeffer, “Christians Are Singing People” (Psalm 149:1-6) , Christianity Today, Vol. 21, (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today International, January 7, 1977), pp. 24-25


[7]L. M. Cross, God’s Minute: A Book of 365 Daily Prayers Sixty Seconds Long for Home Worship by 365 Eminent Clergymen and Laymen, March Thirteenth Reading, (Philadelphia, PA: The Vir Publishing Company, 1916, 1923), p. 87


[8]David Jeremiah, “How Can I Live a Lifestyle of Worship?”, Available from: http://www.christianity.com/church/worship-and-hymns/how-can-i-live-a-lifestyle-of-worship-11550716.html?p=0 Accessed: 11/20/12


[9]Robert Grant, “O Worship the King”, (1833)


By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com


http://www.webspawner.com/users/franklinlkirksey / [email protected] / (251) 626-6210

© December 16, 2012 All Rights Reserved


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