Tag Archives: Praise

Songs and God’s Creation

Open Bible and hymn near an ocean at sunset

This is the first of what I hope to be many posts exploring the connection between music for worship and the study of theology. Below is a list of psalm settings, hymns, and spiritual songs that teach on the doctrine of creation: natural revelation. The songs are arranged under 16 theological statements, including 5 statements for which I have not yet found related songs.  

If you have additional suggestions for songs related to the doctrine of creation that should be included in the index, please comment or send me a message.

Note: The songs are listed below by title and author. For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the page for “Songs and God’s Creation” in Theology and Song: A Theological Index of Music for Worship online. I will be updating the online Index with more songs and topics in the days ahead as I receive recommendations. 

Songs and God’s Creation: Natural Revelation 

1. Creation affirms that there is a Creator—God created heaven and earth

  • All Things Bright and Beautiful (Cecil F Alexander)
  • Before Jehovah’s Awful Throne—Psalm 100 (Isaac Watts / John Wesley)
  • God, the Lord, a King Remaineth—Psalm 93 (John Keble)
  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Thomas Obediah Chisholm)
  • Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah—Psalm 146 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Hast Thou Not Known, Hast Thou Not Heard (Isaac Watts)
  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)
  • Let All Things Now Living (Katherine Davis • Welsh melody)
  • The Spacious Firmament on High (Joseph Addison)
  • This Is My Father’s World (Maltbie Babcock)
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)
  • With Glory Clad, With Strength Arrayed—Psalm 93 (Tate and Brady’s New Version)
  • Wondrous King, All-Glorious (Joachim Neander / William Schaefer)

2. Creation glorifies God—all things exist for His glory and praise

  • All Creatures of Our God and King (St. Francis of Assisi / William H Draper)
  • All Glory to You (Steve and Vikki Cook) • Sovereign Grace Music
  • All People That on Earth Do Dwell—Psalm 100 (William Kethe / Thomas Ken)
  • All that I Am I Owe to Thee—Psalm 134:14–24 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Before Jehovah’s Awful Throne—Psalm 100 (Isaac Watts / John Wesley)
  • Behold Our God (Ryan, Jonathan & Meghan Baird / Stephen Altrogge) • Sovereign Grace Music
  • Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim—Psalm 135 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • For the Beauty of the Earth (Folliott Sandford Pierpoint)
  • From All That Dwell Below the Skies—Psalm 117 (Isaac Watts)
  • God, the Lord, a King Remaineth—Psalm 93 (John Keble)
  • Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah—Psalm 146 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)
  • Let All Things Now Living (Katherine Davis • Welsh melody)
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten (Prudentius / J. Neale / H. Baker)
  • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Joachim Neander / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above (Jonann Schütz / Francis Cox)
  • The Spacious Firmament on High (Joseph Addison)
  • This Is My Father’s World (Maltbie Babcock)
  • With Songs and Honors Sounding Loud—Psalm 147 (Isaac Watts)
  • Wondrous King, All-Glorious (Joachim Neander / William Schaefer)

3. Creation testifies of God’s wisdom and design

  • All that I Am I Owe to Thee—Psalm 134:14–24 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Hast Thou Not Known, Hast Thou Not Heard (Isaac Watts)
  • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Joachim Neander / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)

4. The testimony of creation is insufficient for knowing the way of salvation.

  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)

5. The testimony of creation leaves man inexcusable

  •  

6. God delights in creation—all things were made for His pleasure

  • All Glory to You (Steve and Vikki Cook) • Sovereign Grace Music
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)

7. God made all of creation and pronounced it good

  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)

8. The world was spoken into existence by God’s Word.

  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten (Prudentius / J. Neale / H. Baker)
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)

9. The world was created by God ex nihilio (out of nothing).

  •  

10. The world continues to be upheld and sustained by God

  • All Things Bright and Beautiful (Cecil F Alexander)
  • Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim—Psalm 135 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Forever Settled in the Heavens—Psalm 119:89–97 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Thomas Obediah Chisholm)
  • Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah—Psalm 146 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Hast Thou Not Known, Hast Thou Not Heard (Isaac Watts)
  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)
  • Let All Things Now Living (Katherine Davis • Welsh melody)
  • Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above (Jonann Schütz / Francis Cox)
  • With Glory Clad, With Strength Arrayed—Psalm 93 (Tate and Brady’s New Version)
  • With Songs and Honors Sounding Loud—Psalm 147 (Isaac Watts)

11. God creates all people—He is the One who gives and sustains all life.

  • All People That on Earth Do Dwell—Psalm 100 (William Kethe / Thomas Ken)
  • Let All Things Now Living (Katherine Davis • Welsh melody)
  • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Joachim Neander / Catherine Winkworth)

12. God created man (male and female) out of the dust of the earth 

  • Before Jehovah’s Awful Throne—Psalm 100 (Isaac Watts / John Wesley)

13. Man was breathed into a living being by God.

14. God made man (male and female) in His own image

  •  

15. God gave man dominion over all other living things on the earth.

  •  

16. God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.

  • Today We Gather in This Place (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

_______________

The next post in the series will be “Songs and God’s Word: Special Revelation.”

For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the Theological Index of Music and Worship online:

Entry for “Songs and God’s Creation”

TOC for Index: Theology and Song

Salvation Is of Our Lord!

Sunrise over ocean waves

Here is another hymn from my archives. According to my journal, I composed my 2nd hymn 34 years ago (September 1985) as “a call to worship proclaiming God’s sovereignty in salvation as well as in creation.” The title is taken from the prayer recorded in the 2nd chapter of Jonah. In this prayer Jonah says: “Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God (2:6)” At the end of the prayer in verse 9 he declares: “Salvation is of the Lord.” 

Salvation Is of Our Lord!

But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the Lord.
(Jonah 2:9)

1. We, Your children, praise You, Father,
And receive Your love outpour’d.
We proclaim this truth in wonder:
Salvation is of our Lord!

2. We were sinners lost in darkness,
Bound to death by sin’s strong cord.
Your free grace has wrought our freedom;
Salvation is of our Lord!

3. We, Your saints beforehand chosen,
Called of God, by You adored,
Given part in Christ’s atonement;
Salvation is of our Lord!

4. Guide us, Father, as we worship,
Join our hearts in one accord.
Joyfully we sing before You:
Salvation is of our Lord!

Words ©1987, 2019 Kenneth Puls

Download free sheet music for this hymn, including an arrangement of the tune ST. OSWALD for classical guitar.

More Hymns and Songs from Ken Puls Music

More Hymn tunes arranged for classical guitar

The Lord Is My Delight—Twenty Years

Waterfall and Valley

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ” (Philippians 3:7).

The Lord is my delight!
To serve my Sov’reign King;
My life poured out to do His will,
A joyful offering!

As I arise this day,
May I count all things loss,
To the know the joy of life in Christ
By taking up my cross.

I long to be like Christ,
His will my meat and drink,
Delighting in obedience
In all I do and think.

This day the Lord has giv’n
Belongs to Him, not me,
To be lived out in faith and love,
And not spent selfishly.

Each person that I meet,
Each circumstance I face,
Is an occasion to make known
The riches of His grace.

My joy is in the Lord,
To serve Him all my days;
My life poured out for all to see,
A sacrifice of praise.

Words ©1998 Kenneth A Puls

This is the title hymn from the album The Lord Is My Delight, a collection of hymns and songs celebrating the joy of following and serving Christ. I wrote the hymn twenty years ago, in October 1998, in my final semester at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I had successfully defended my dissertation in September and I was looking forward to graduation in December with a PhD in Church Music Ministry. The hymn is a declaration of my ongoing commitment to acknowledge every day as a gift from God to be used for His glory. 

Check out the lyric video on youtube:

And download the music from band camp:

Click here to download lyrics and free sheet music, including an arrangement of the hymn tune TRENTHAM for Classical Guitar.

—Ken Puls

More Hymns and Songs from Ken Puls Music

More Hymn tunes arranged for classical guitar

Magnify the Lord with Me!

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
(Psalm 34:1–3)

Magnify the Lord

The first three verses of Psalm 34 are an invitation—a call to worship. In verse one David expresses his own commitment to praise God.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
(Psalms 34:1)

God is worthy of all praise—worthy of unending praise. David desires that God’s praise be continually on his lips—at all times, whether it be in enemy territory or in the courts of God’s temple with His people.

In verse two David calls upon the humble to hear him and rejoice with him as he lifts his praise.

My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
(Psalm 34:2)

His words are good news to the humble. For those whom God has brought low, for those who see themselves in peril and needy of a way of escape, David knows where to point them for hope and strength.

In verse three he invites those who hear him to join his praise, that God would be magnified.

Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
(Psalm 34:3)

This psalm, like many in the book of Psalms, begins as personal praise and then spreads as it is shared and joined by others. What was individual devotion is now sung by many as corporate worship. David is not content to praise God by himself for his deliverance—he wants the people of God to join him. He wants the Lord to be magnified.

As we help and encourage others to look to God and acknowledge God and praise Him; as we share what God has done for us to encourage the hearts of others to look to Him and trust in Him, He is magnified—not in the sense that we add to God or make Him appear large or great (as a microscope would take a small thing and make it look large), but rather we take who God is and what He has done and bring it close to others, so they can see it and know it and rejoice in it (as a telescope would take a large and magnificent object and bring it into focus so all can enjoy and marvel in viewing it up close).

David wants to take the deliverance he has experienced by the grace and mercy of God, and bring it close to the people of God so that they can see it and rejoice with him in an overflow of praise and thanksgiving.

Read more from this sermon on Psalm 34 entitled “Taste and See!”

Find More Sermons and Articles

Out of Zion

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
(Psalms 14:7)

Church and town at Sunrise

Verse 7 of Psalm 14 represents a crucial turning point. The psalm began as a meditation, that quickly turned to a lament, but now is a petition, looking forward to a time of praise and rejoicing.

David considers the hopeless of man left to himself. He mediates on the depravity and corruption of man, and realizes that if anyone can be saved, it must be through God’s grace and life-giving power.
But notice from where God’s salvation is to come: out of Zion!

What is Zion?

David could have prayed that salvation would come from hand of God. He could have said that salvation would come from the promised Messiah. And this would be true. But he expands his statement at the end of the psalm, praying that salvation will come out of Zion.

This is more than a reference to the physical city of Jerusalem, where Christ would be crucified and accomplish in time and space the salvation of God’s people. Zion is also used in Scripture as reference to the people of God.

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion.
(Psalms 65:1)

God’s purpose in salvation includes its being fulfilled and accomplished by Christ-but also its application and proclamation in us! God is the One who saves. Notice—

Verse 7 continues: “When the LORD restores…”

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
(Psalms 14:7)

It is the Lord who restores! But God uses means to accomplish His salvation. As God saves, we respond with joy and gladness-joy and gladness that compel us to share the good news of salvation with others. It is our joy and responsibility to spread the Gospel—out of Zion, knowing with confidence that God will work-His Word will go out and will not return void.

He has established us here as a church in this community for a purpose. I encourage you to think from this mindset—out of Zion. God has put us here to make Him known. Every friend, every acquaintance, every relationship is in your life for you to magnify Jesus Christ.

Read more from this sermon on Psalm 14 entitled “Out of Zion”

Find More Sermons and Articles

A Song Book That Begins With Words of Wisdom

The Book of Psalms

The Book of Psalms is an important collection of songs in Scripture for the worship of God. These songs are commanded to be sung by God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments.

In the Old Testament they comprise the songbook of the Temple. God appointed the Levites to sing and teach the people to sing psalms to God in worship. As the people gathered in Jerusalem and brought their sacrifices, these were the songs being sung and heard in the congregation.

In the New Testament Paul sets the psalms at the forefront of church music, exhorting us in Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19 to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. The psalms speak of Christ, point us to Christ, and find their ultimate fulfillment in Christ (Luke 24:44).

When you think of the book of Psalms, and remember the purpose and use of the psalms, its beginning may at first surprise you. It might not be what you would expect.

The psalms are about our communion with God in worship.

How then would you expect such a collection of songs to begin?

What opening words do you envision?

  • A lofty song of praise?
  • A hymn exalting the attributes of God?
  • A call to God’s people to come to the Temple and enter into His presence?
  • A call to God, asking Him to hear His people as they lift their voices?

All of these are songs you will find in abundance in the Psalter, but not at the beginning.

Let’s go to the Word of God and read how the Psalms begin:

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
(Psalm 1:1–6)

God opens His hymnal with a psalm of wisdom—a psalm for teaching that portrays a striking contrast between two groups of people: the ungodly and the righteous—those who are committed to walking according to the ways of God, and those who have forsaken that way.

For the righteous, the psalm offers a promise;
For the ungodly it declares a warning.

Continue reading this sermon from  Psalm 1 entitled “Two Paths and Two Ends.”

See more Sermons and Articles by Ken Puls

Above Image by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

 

Can Music Be Evil or Worldly?

Rock Guitar

You may have read books or watched videos that teach on music and warn against various styles of music, pointing to their association with things that are ungodly. Those discussions about music can be both helpful and at times misleading. They are helpful in that—

  1. They make us aware that we should be concerned about the music we hear.
  2. They expose some very real issues of sin and abuse of music to promote evil.

But they can be misleading in that—

  1. They tend to pick on just 1 or 2 styles of music (Rock, Pop), and give the rest a pass.
  2. They often misidentify the problem.

Let me give you some guidelines for thinking about music as it relates to sin. First we must realize that—

1) All music belongs to God.

All music that we create is a part of this world. And all music belongs to God as a part of His creation. God gave us music to enjoy and glorify Him in all of life.

2) Music itself cannot be “sacred” or “secular.”

When you are considering just the music—not music and words together—not music in other contexts—just evaluating the tune—music itself is not “sacred” or “secular.” It is a false dichotomy to divide music into categories—thinking that God has His music over here—music that He prefers and delights in—and the world has its music over there that it delights in and prefers—and the really bad stuff—that is the devil’s music.

There is no “God’s music,” “world’s music,” and “devil’s music.” It is all God’s music. No tone or beat has ever been sounded in this universe that does not belong to God.

Music is not inherently religious or worldly, good or evil. There is only music—which can be employed for worship, for recreation, for celebration, for numerous occasions in which we wish to raise our affections and give voice to our emotions.

3) Music can’t be evil because “evil is nothing, i.e. no–thing.”

Evil does not consist of things, be it bullets and guns or tones, rhythms and instruments. [For an explanation of this principle listen to the message by R.C. Sproul from the Ligonier National Conference held in June 2010 on “What is Evil and Where does it come from?”] Evil does not consist of things, rather—

4) Sin is an issue of the heart.

When we see music that is wed to words or actions that dishonor God, if we are not careful, we can come to the conclusion that the problem is the music, when the real problem is sin. Sin is always an issue of the heart. Sin is found in our motives and intents as we create and use music, not in the tones, rhythms, and instruments we use to create and make music. Music can certainly be used in sinful ways to express sinful desires and wicked intentions. But the music itself is just a tool.

It has been this way since the beginning. In Genesis 4:21 we read of Jubal—the father of those who play the lyre and pipe—the first time music is referenced in the Bible. Two verses later in Genesis 4:23 we have the first recorded song in Scripture—a boast exulting in murder and lust for revenge.

All styles of music can be abused in sinful ways. Often it’s styles like Rock and Pop that are targeted as “worldly” or “evil,” while styles such as Classical are championed as wholesome and safe. Critics point to the perverse lifestyle and evil intentions of many Pop and Rock musicians. And we should heed their warnings and be on guard against using music to sin against God. But honestly, all styles of music can be abused by sin. Classical, Rock, Pop, Country and Jazz can all express a wide range of emotion. And all have a history tainted by sin. All have had composers and performers whose lives have been shattered by sin. We need discernment to judge every style and genre of music. A better way think of music in regard to evil is—

5) Music can be used in ways that honor God or profane God.

When music honors God, it is intentionally composed or used to praise Him, acknowledge Him or celebrate what is good and right. Music that honors God does not necessarily need to be worship music. It can be music that celebrates life, love, marriage, family, children, home, and many other gifts of God—and celebrates these good gifts in God-honoring ways.

When music profanes God, it is composed or used without thought of God, as an end in itself, making music to be an idol or empty. Or it is composed to celebrate or promote things contrary to God and His revealed will. And this can happen in all styles of music.

Music itself simply expresses and reflects emotion. It does not in itself distinguish between sinful expressions of emotion and pure expressions of emotion. All emotions can glorify God when channeled and expressed in God-honoring ways. God created our emotions for us to express to His glory. But emotions can be hijacked, misdirected and used in sinful ways. And music has certainly been abused and misused to express emotion in sinful ways. This world has produced some wonderfully passionate and expressive music. The music is for us to use and enjoy to God’s glory. The problem lies in that the world is often passionate and expressive about the wrong things. Their emotions have been hijacked and sent in sinful directions. And so the music they use to express themselves has been hijacked and misdirected as well.

[This excerpt is from the study “What Then Shall We Sing?” Read more from Part 1: Thoughts on Music.]

No Greater Passion

No Greater Passion

This past Sunday Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida celebrated the 30th Anniversary of Dr. Tom Ascol serving as pastor. I have had the privilege of serving with Tom and leading music at Grace since 2003. As part of the celebration I wrote a new song  with the help of Becca Sissons entitled “No Greater Passion.”

The chorus of the song has words very familiar to our church family. Pastor Tom has taught us to remember that the gospel is all about Jesus: “Who He is, what He’s done, and why it matters.”

The idea for the verses came from another pastor, whose words Tom borrowed as an encouragement to our church. Inspired by Spurgeon’s first words at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, these were the first words that Pastor Tom spoke from the pulpit when we began meeting in our new building on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012:

This building has been prepared to serve the advance of the gospel here in Southwest Florida and around the world. Because of that I propose that the theme of all the preaching and teaching that will come from this platform shall be the person and work of Jesus Christ. We believe many things in this church. We love the law of God and delight in it because it is not only right but it is good. We love the great doctrines that are revealed in the Bible, especially those wonderful doctrines of God’s sovereign grace in salvation. But if asked what is our creed our answer must now and forever be, “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” The one message that we have to proclaim to our community is simply this: “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” His life, death and resurrection is our joy and our passion.

No Greater Passion

“For I decided to know nothing among you except
Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

We have no greater passion,
No greater joy we own;
No other cause so great unites us
Than making Jesus known.
We have one simple message
That Jesus came to save;
To rescue dead and helpless sinners,
His life He freely gave.

Let our lives and our lips
Declare the gospel.
All praise to Christ we give!
Who He is, what He’s done,
And why it matters,
He’s the reason that we live.

We have no other answer,
When asked about our creed.
It’s Christ alone, His love compels us
To reach a world in need.
We have a great commission
To preach His Word to all,
At home, abroad and to hard places,
Wherever He may call.

Let our lives and our lips
Declare the gospel.
All praise to Christ we give!
Who He is, what He’s done,
And why it matters,
He’s the reason that we live.

We have no other refuge;
“To whom Lord shall we go?”
In You alone is life eternal,
No other hope we know.
We have one sure foundation
That can’t be overthrown.
We’re anchored firm in Christ our Savior,
Our Rock, our Cornerstone.

Let our lives and our lips
Declare the gospel.
All praise to Christ we give!
Who He is, what He’s done,
And why it matters,
He’s the reason that we live.

No other passion,
No other creed,
No other refuge,
This we believe.
No other passion
No other creed,
He’s the reason that we live.

Words by Ken Puls; Music by Ken Puls and Rebecca Sissons
©2016 Kenneth Puls and Rebecca Sissons

You can hear a recording of the song from our evening service on June 5, 2016:

Click here to download lyrics and free sheet music: including song sheet, chord chart and music arranged for instrumental ensemble.

—Ken Puls

A Crescendo of Praise

Crescendo Wave

The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice;
let the many coastlands be glad!
(Psalm 97:1)

True worship is centered on God. We see this in Psalm 97 from the very first verse. We are to be glad and rejoice. Our God reigns! Our Lord is Sovereign over all. This knowledge should season every thought and flavor every prayer!

Notice that Psalm 97 begins with praise. The psalmist lifts his voice with confidence and joy starting with the very first verse. Not all the psalms begin this way. Many open with cries of distress or sorrow. The psalmist is afflicted, persecuted, facing suffering or weighed down by trials. In these circumstances, as the psalmist pours out his heart before God, you will find petitions, prayers and laments. But as you read the psalms, you will also discover that the focus doesn’t remain on the problems and difficulties and trials. Over and over throughout the psalms, the concern of the psalmist turns from his petitions and laments to God’s glory and praise.

Look, for example at Psalm 13. David begins the psalm in desperation:

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
(Psalms 13:1-4)

But then David turns his thoughts to God’s love and there is a noticeable shift:

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
(Psalms 13:5-6)

Do you see the change in David’s focus as the psalm begins compared to how the psalm ends? As he meditates and remembers the God to whom he is praying, his heart is turned from sorrow to praise!

In fact, if you read through the entire book of Psalms, you will see a noticeable shift in its content. Early in the Psalter you find many petitions and laments, but as you grow closer to the end of the book, the petitions and laments grow fewer and fewer until from Psalm 145 to the end there is pure praise. The Psalms culminate in a crescendo of praise that builds to the last verse (Psalm 150:6) and resounds in the final command: “let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”

The Book of Psalms begins with a blessing. Psalm 1 tells us that we are blessed when we turn away from sin and evil, and we delight in the Law of God and meditate upon His Word day and night. Those who know God—know His name, His character, His promises, His salvation—those who delight in Him will be:

… like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
(Psalms 1:3)

The remainder of the Book of Psalms is a glorious testimony that this promise is true. In every distress and storm where the psalmist feared that he would wither or fall, when the psalmist looked to God and trusted in God and clung to God’s revelation of His character and promises and will, when he was confident that God would accomplish His purposes, then his focus turned from petition and lament to praise and rejoicing.

This is why Psalms is called in Hebrew a Book of Praises (Sepher Tehillium).

This has great implications for our worship today. If our desire is to have worship that honors God and enriches, encourages, and nourishes our souls, our greatest need to stop focusing on ourselves and remember God.

Think of this when we gather together for worship on the Lord’s Day. Think of this when we come together for prayer on Wednesday nights. As you voice your concerns and share your heart, honestly confess your difficulties and struggles, tell God your sorrows and troubles, but don’t stay there! Look to God! Our God reigns! Let your words dwell upon Him!

[This excerpt is from a sermon on Psalm 97 entitled “The God We Worship.” You can read the full sermon text here.]

More Sermons and Articles

Gathered Now We Come to Worship

Gathered now, we come to worship,
Hearts united, singing praise!
We would look to Jesus only,
Letting none distract our gaze.
May we offer music fitting
For the worship of our King.
Let us foremost seek His pleasure
As our voices join to sing.

Worship is not about our efforts, our pursuits, or our offerings. Worship centers on the glory and majesty of Christ Jesus. This hymn is a meditation on 2 Corinthians 4:5 “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.”

Check out the lyric video on youtube:

And download the music from band camp:

Click here to download lyrics and free sheet music: including song sheet, chord chart and music arranged for classical guitar.

—Ken Puls