Day 229

How to Enjoy God

Wisdom Psalm 98:1-9
New Testament 1 Corinthians 11:2-34
Old Testament 2 Chronicles 7:11-9:31

Introduction

You and I are created to worship God. But why would God create human beings in order to receive their worship? Is this not, as some suggest, pure vanity?

Many years ago, I was helped in my understanding of worship through C.S. Lewis’s explanation in his Reflections on the Psalms.

He wrote: ‘The most obvious fact about praise… strangely escaped me… I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise… the world rings with praise... walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game – praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare books, even sometimes politicians and scholars…

‘I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It’s not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.’

In other words, worship is the consummation of joy. Our joy is not complete until it is expressed in worship. It is out of his love for you that God created you to worship. According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, humankind’s ‘chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever’.

Wisdom

Psalm 98:1-9

Psalm 98

A psalm.

1 Sing to the Lord a new song,
  for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
  have worked salvation for him.
2 The Lord has made his salvation known
  and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
3 He has remembered his love
  and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
  the salvation of our God.

4 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
  burst into jubilant song with music;
5 make music to the Lord with the harp,
  with the harp and the sound of singing,
6 with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn —
  shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

7 Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
  the world, and all who live in it.
8 Let the rivers clap their hands,
  let the mountains sing together for joy;
9 let them sing before the Lord,
  for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
  and the peoples with equity.

Commentary

Singing and music

The psalmist calls people to worship God in song and music: ‘Sing to the Lord a new song… Burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord’ (vv.1,4–5).

This psalm is full of noise, as the people are asked to celebrate God’s goodness in a whole host of different ways. There is a call to sing, shout for joy, play instruments, and even applaud in our celebration of God:

Shout your praises to God, everybody!
||Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!
Round up an orchestra to play for God,
||Add on a hundred-voice choir.
Feature trumpets and big trombones,
||Fill the air with praises to King God.
Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause,
||With everything living on earth joining in’ (vv.4–7, MSG).

This is all a response to what God has done for us. You are called to worship the Lord who is Saviour (vv.1–3), King (vv.4–6) and Judge (vv.7–9).

As we read this through the lens of Jesus, we can see this as a prophetic psalm. Jesus is the one at God’s ‘right hand’ who has ‘worked salvation’ (v.1). He has made God’s salvation known and ‘revealed his righteousness to the nations’ (v.2). (See also Romans 3:21.)

There is a joyful anticipation of the universal restoration of all things when the Saviour will come to judge the earth (Psalm 98:9). Then all creation will be restored (vv.7–8). As St Paul puts it, ‘The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed… the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God’ (Romans 8:19–21).

This psalm is a growing crescendo of praise – from the worshipping community of the people of God (Psalm 98:1–3), to all people (vv.4–6) and finally to all of creation (vv.7–9).

Prayer

Lord, I worship you. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for your love and faithfulness. Thank you that I can worship you with joy, jubilant songs, music and shouting. Thank you that I can be confident in the fairness of your judgment – you will judge the world in righteousness and the people with equity.

New Testament

1 Corinthians 11:2-34

On Covering the Head in Worship

2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

Correcting an Abuse of the Lord’s Supper

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

And when I come I will give further directions.

Commentary

Awe and thanksgiving

Paul addresses the issue of honour and propriety in worship, and in particular he looks at the role and place of women in worship. A huge amount of ink has been spilt discussing what this passage means.

Paul’s concern was that nothing should cause an offence to the gospel. There is general agreement that much of it is cultural – few churches today expect women to cover their hair, for example.

What is clear is that both men and women were expected to pray and prophesy in services (vv.4–5). It is also clear that there is an equality of the sexes and mutual dependence (vv.11–12): ‘Neither man nor woman can go it alone or claim priority... let’s quit going through these “who’s first” routines’ (vv.11–12, MSG).

Next, Paul goes onto discuss the ‘Lord’s Supper’ (v.20), or ‘the Eucharist’ as he calls it elsewhere (Eucharistéin is a Greek verb meaning ‘to thank’).

This is probably the earliest account of this element in our services of worship. It has been a vital part of Christian worship for the last 2,000 years, celebrated almost universally by the church worldwide. Again, there has been a huge amount of discussion about what exactly Paul means. However, it seems to me that from this passage a number of things are clear:

  1. It is frequent
    There is an expectation that when they ‘come together’ in their ‘meetings’ (vv.17,20), the ‘Lord’s Supper’ will take place.

  2. It is important
    Jesus tells us to ‘do this’ (v.24). The consequences of not doing it properly are very serious (v.27 onwards). ‘Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe’ (v.28, MSG).

  3. It is proclamation
    It is one of the ways in which you proclaim the gospel. ‘For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’ (v.26).

  4. It involved both remembering
    Jesus (vv.24–25) and ‘recognising the body of the Lord’ (v.29). Expect to encounter Jesus as you receive the bread and wine.

  5. It is a participation in Christ’s body and blood (10:14 onwards). The Greek word used here is koinonia, which can also mean ‘sharing’ or ‘fellowship’. It is a way for us to receive and share in the benefits of Jesus’ death.

  6. It is a form of thanksgiving. We drink from the ‘cup of thanksgiving’ (10:16).

  7. It is an expression of unity. ‘Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake in the one loaf (v.17). One of the great tragedies of church history is the way in which this great expression of unity has become a cause of division.

  8. It anticipates the Lord’s return. You are proclaiming ‘the Lord’s death until he comes’ (11:26).

The bread and wine are the body and blood of Jesus (vv.24–25). This is one of the ways in which we experience his presence today. What exactly this means, of course, has been the subject of great speculation, debate and controversy. One approach might perhaps be simply to accept it as a mystery and not go behind Scripture and speculate too much about how exactly it works.

Prayer

Lord, help me to worship you in a way that is right and appropriate and pleases you. Help me to focus on Jesus. Help me to find my true purpose in worshipping you and enjoying you forever.

Old Testament

2 Chronicles 7:11-9:31

The Lord Appears to Solomon

11 When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, 12 the Lord appeared to him at night and said:

“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.

13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

17 “As for you, if you walk before me faithfully as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, 18 I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to rule over Israel.’

19 “But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 21 This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 22 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them —that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’”

Solomon’s Other Activities

8At the end of twenty years, during which Solomon built the temple of the Lord and his own palace, 2 Solomon rebuilt the villages that Hiram had given him, and settled Israelites in them. 3 Solomon then went to Hamath Zobah and captured it. 4 He also built up Tadmor in the desert and all the store cities he had built in Hamath. 5 He rebuilt Upper Beth Horon and Lower Beth Horon as fortified cities, with walls and with gates and bars, 6 as well as Baalath and all his store cities, and all the cities for his chariots and for his horses—whatever he desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon and throughout all the territory he ruled.

7 There were still people left from the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites (these people were not Israelites). 8 Solomon conscripted the descendants of all these people remaining in the land—whom the Israelites had not destroyed—to serve as slave labor, as it is to this day. 9 But Solomon did not make slaves of the Israelites for his work; they were his fighting men, commanders of his captains, and commanders of his chariots and charioteers. 10 They were also King Solomon’s chief officials—two hundred and fifty officials supervising the men.

11 Solomon brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from the City of David to the palace he had built for her, for he said, “My wife must not live in the palace of David king of Israel, because the places the ark of the Lord has entered are holy.”

12 On the altar of the Lord that he had built in front of the portico, Solomon sacrificed burnt offerings to the Lord, 13 according to the daily requirement for offerings commanded by Moses for the Sabbaths, the New Moons and the three annual festivals—the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. 14 In keeping with the ordinance of his father David, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their duties, and the Levites to lead the praise and to assist the priests according to each day’s requirement. He also appointed the gatekeepers by divisions for the various gates, because this was what David the man of God had ordered. 15 They did not deviate from the king’s commands to the priests or to the Levites in any matter, including that of the treasuries.

16 All Solomon’s work was carried out, from the day the foundation of the temple of the Lord was laid until its completion. So the temple of the Lord was finished.

17 Then Solomon went to Ezion Geber and Elath on the coast of Edom. 18 And Hiram sent him ships commanded by his own men, sailors who knew the sea. These, with Solomon’s men, sailed to Ophir and brought back four hundred and fifty talents of gold, which they delivered to King Solomon.

The Queen of Sheba Visits Solomon

9When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. Arriving with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all she had on her mind. 2 Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for him to explain to her. 3 When the queen of Sheba saw the wisdom of Solomon, as well as the palace he had built, 4 the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, the cupbearers in their robes and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed.

5 She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. 6 But I did not believe what they said until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half the greatness of your wisdom was told me; you have far exceeded the report I heard. 7 How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! 8 Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on his throne as king to rule for the Lord your God. Because of the love of your God for Israel and his desire to uphold them forever, he has made you king over them, to maintain justice and righteousness.”

9 Then she gave the king 120 talents of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones. There had never been such spices as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

10 (The servants of Hiram and the servants of Solomon brought gold from Ophir; they also brought algumwood and precious stones. 11 The king used the algumwood to make steps for the temple of the Lord and for the royal palace, and to make harps and lyres for the musicians. Nothing like them had ever been seen in Judah.)

12 King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for; he gave her more than she had brought to him. Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country.

Solomon’s Splendor

13 The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents, 14 not including the revenues brought in by merchants and traders. Also all the kings of Arabia and the governors of the territories brought gold and silver to Solomon.

15 King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred shekels of hammered gold went into each shield. 16 He also made three hundred small shields of hammered gold, with three hundred shekels of gold in each shield. The king put them in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon.

17 Then the king made a great throne covered with ivory and overlaid with pure gold. 18 The throne had six steps, and a footstool of gold was attached to it. On both sides of the seat were armrests, with a lion standing beside each of them. 19 Twelve lions stood on the six steps, one at either end of each step. Nothing like it had ever been made for any other kingdom. 20 All King Solomon’s goblets were gold, and all the household articles in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Nothing was made of silver, because silver was considered of little value in Solomon’s day. 21 The king had a fleet of trading ships manned by Hiram’s servants. Once every three years it returned, carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons.

22 King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. 23 All the kings of the earth sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. 24 Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift —articles of silver and gold, and robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules.

25 Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. 26 He ruled over all the kings from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. 27 The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills. 28 Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from all other countries.

Solomon’s Death

29 As for the other events of Solomon’s reign, from beginning to end, are they not written in the records of Nathan the prophet, in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite and in the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam son of Nebat? 30 Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. 31 Then he rested with his ancestors and was buried in the city of David his father. And Rehoboam his son succeeded him as king.

Commentary

Integrity and passion

Solomon ‘succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord’ (7:11). He glorified God through what he carried out.

The chronicler focuses his account of the reigns of David and Solomon around the building of the place to worship God, the temple in Jerusalem. For him, virtually everything else in their reigns pales into insignificance. They built the place of worship and God blessed them richly.

Solomon’s fame spread (as we read in chapters 8 and 9). The Queen of Sheba (probably in modern-day Yemen) came to visit and was so astonished by what she saw (9:1–7) that she herself praised the Lord (v.8). (Interestingly, in the light of the New Testament passage about women, no question is raised here about a female monarch ruling a country.)

Solomon’s splendour was great. After Solomon had built the temple, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘… if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land’ (7:14).

This verse is justly famous and it is often used as a template for worship and prayer. In it we see the conditions for integrity in our worship. They are also the conditions necessary for revival. In the light of COVID-19, it is pertinent to note that the immediate context was the possibility of a pandemic (‘plague’ v.13). We see in this verse that we need to do four things:

  1. Humble ourselves
  2. Pray
  3. Seek God’s face
  4. Turn from our wicked ways

Then God promises that he will do three things:

  1. Hear from heaven
  2. Forgive our sin
  3. Heal the land

Prayer

Lord, today I want to humble myself and pray and seek your face and repent of my sins. I pray that you would hear from heaven and forgive our sin and heal our land. May we glorify you and enjoy you for ever.

Pippa adds

2 Chronicles 8:11

‘My wife must NOT live in the palace of King David of Israel, because the places the ark of the Lord has entered are HOLY.’

I’m assuming it is because Pharaoh’s daughter didn’t worship God rather than any other reason that she couldn’t live there!

Verse of the Day

2 Chronicles 7:14

‘… if my people… will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land’
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References

The One Year® is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers used by permission

C. S. Lewis, C. S. Lewis Selected Books: The Pilgrim's Regress / Prayer: Letter to Malcolm / Reflections on the Psalms / Till We Have Faces / The Abolition of Man (HarperCollins, 2011), p.360

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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