Matthew 6:33 says, But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. If we are going to be people who are truly seeking God’s Kingdom and His righteousness, then we must understand Kingdom worship. Anemic, carnal, self-centered worship can never be a part of who we are as Kingdom people.
Psalm 42 is one of the most powerful in all of God’s Word in regard to the issue of Kingdom worship. We can learn four distinct lessons about worship from this passage.
KINGDOM WORSHIP MUST BE EXPECTANT (vs. 1–2). Fulfilling people’s expectations in regards to worship is not an easy task. It seems that each age group has its own preferences, and therefore expectations, in worship services. Yet, true worship has little or nothing to do with style preference or expressions. The expectant worship that I read of in God’s Word has to do with an inner expectancy that transcends varying preferences and styles. The psalmist longs for God’s presence with his whole being.
It is sad that Christians spend so much time arguing about style, musical preference, and placement of instruments and ignore the true, crucial issue which is before us. Is your worship Kingdom worship? Is it expectant? Do you act as if you are attending an obligatory concert? Are you seeking and thirsting and hungering for God? The mark of maturity of Kingdom people is that we move past the silliness of arguing about style to get to the true issue—a depth of expectant hunger for God.
KINGDOM WORSHIP MUST BE HONEST (vs. 3–4). True worship is honest worship. It is a worship which admits our struggles as well as our joys. Worship must continually be expressed in our quiet times before the Lord as well as in our corporate experiences. In this text, we see the psalmist honestly share the emotions of his heart. He was honest about his fears and his doubts, bringing them all before the Lord.
Jesus made it clear in John 4 that worship is not an activity limited to certain places or times. Rather, worship is a 24/7 vocation of all believers. In other words, honest worship is open and continual. Worship is not just a function in which we gather formally and pretend that everything is all right or perform specifically “religious” actions. It is an ongoing, honest expression.
KINGDOM WORSHIP MUST BE THOROUGH (v. 5). Kingdom worship dares to go beyond the surface trivialities of everyday experience. The psalmist analyzes his feelings and asks questions of himself. The inner feelings express themselves in questions, despair, and ultimately in hope in God. When doubt seemed to triumph, true faith calmed its questions. Hope leads the psalmist away from despair. How desperately we need thorough worship! Kingdom worship moves deeply and touches us at the very core of our being.
KINGDOM WORSHIP MUST BE CONNECTED (vs. 7–11). There are times when our worship seems disconnected. In spite of the psalmist’s reflections in the expression of the triumph of hope, the expression of alienation is still there. In the depths of despair, he calls out for the deep help of God. Many of us have come to this point as well. Others must come to this point. We need to understand the serious weight of sin and its alienating force.
With this in mind, we have to ask the question, “Has doubt triumphed?” In verse 8, we see that in his self-doubt, the psalmist remembers the covenant love of the Lord. This is where worship must lead. We must remember the source of our strength and be connected to the awesome power of God, recognizing that even in our despair, He will minister to us.
Is your worship connected in the good and bad times to the deep work of our Lord? Are you connected in salvation and in submission to Him today? Ultimately, are you willing to move beyond the surface and become an expectant, honest, thorough, and connected Kingdom worshiper?
Photo: Lightstock/License required