KEY THOT: The righteous are marked by a heart of thanksgiving, of singing, of making melody before the Lord with stringed instruments (lute, harp, lyre). When our hearts are filled with the Lord’s Spirit, we cannot help but sing: “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in PSALMS and HYMNS and SPIRITUAL SONGS, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 5:18-20). NT church uses three styles of singing in worship: (1) “psalms” – Scripture-derived songs (2) “hymns” – human-composed songs and (3) “spiritual songs” – Spirit-inspired songs.
Pure worship is not about style but of Spirit. Some people think wind instruments are more sacred (organs, horns, trumpets); others think strings are more contemplative (lute, harp, lyre); and still others couldn’t worship without percussive instruments like piano, drums and clashing cymbals. Incidentally, psalms were used in the NT church and its musical tradition is more celebrative (Jewish) than contemplative (European). Middle-eastern, Asian and African cultural traditions are more celebrative in their religious worship. But when all is said and done, and all musical peripherals stripped bare, the heart of worship is the worship of the heart—it’s the Spirit-inspired heart-to-heart meeting with God that overflows into thanksgiving and praise. Jesus declares: “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” (John 4:23).
From the psalms, we know that God loves all styles because all musical styles are present in the 150 psalms. In Psalm 150 alone, the following instruments are mentioned: wind (trumpets, pipes); string (lute, harp); percussion (tambourine, cymbals); including bodily movements (dance). Every arts form can be used to praise God--when our hearts are in the right place with God, even hand-clapping and shouting are acceptable: "Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!" (Ps 47:1). Sadly, many worship styles are often patterned after European traditions rather than biblical ones.
Note that Jesus says the Father seeks for worship-PERS, not worship. God isn’t so interested in the style than the substance: he is seeking for the heart of worship. A worshiper KNOWS God—not just know ABOUT God, for a true worshiper has heart knowledge, not head knowledge about God.
Only when I become a true worshiper of God will I “flourish like a palm tree and grow like cedar in Lebanon” (v.12). And I will be “planted in the house of the Lord and flourish in the courts of the Lord”—a picture of temple worship. I will "bear fruit in old age...ever full of sap and evergreen" (v.14).
I must spend more time in private worship, for that’s where I find and know God. I cannot wait for Sundays to do my “worship” thingy. If I'm not worshiping on weekdays, I've nothing to offer on Sunday. Relationship with my God has to be an on-going moment-by-moment relationship of praise and thanksgiving before God.
Father, discipline my heart to focus on You every moment to sing praise and worship You more. Fill me with Your Spirit so that I may know You, not just about You.