Is there an incorrect or improper way to worship God? Does the living God even care about how we approach Him when we gather for corporate worship? In 2 Samuel 6, King David brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem and the people erupt in exuberant praise. In this episode, we see four aspects of genuine worship that teach us how we should approach the Lord in our Sunday services.
First, we should worship God in reverent awe. Uzzah the priest incorrectly transported the Ark of the Covenant on an oxcart instead of carrying it on his shoulders with poles. The Ark toppled and he reached out to prevent it from hitting the ground. We find this shocking response of God in 2 Samuel 6:7: “And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.”
All Uzzah was trying to do was to be helpful. He didn’t want the ark to touch the ground. Why didn’t God cut him some slack and show some understanding? This God who is absolutely holy is not very marketable. We as humans would have never “invented or created” a God like this. This startled David. This was an uncomfortable feeling in the presence of a holy God that led David to have a healthy fear.
Our God is to be worshipped in awe and reverence. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Is this how you worship God? Is this your attitude when you walk into a worship service? Do you have a healthy dose of God’s sovereignty and holiness that you stand in awe of Him?
Or do you come with an attitude of casualness? Flippancy? A light-heartedness that doesn’t understand the weightiness and seriousness of coming into the presence of a holy God? Now, I’m not saying that everything about a worship service should be somber and lifeless, but I do believe there needs to be a weightiness to our worship. We need to come as broken people who are saved by grace from a sovereign God who has every right to not save us and we come under His Lordship and His agenda and we bow ourselves in humility and awe under His glory.
Second, we should worship God in overflowing joy. In 2 Samuel 6:14-15, David “danced before the Lord with all his might” and the Israelites celebrating with shouting and blaring of trumpets when the Ark of the Covenant finally gets to Jerusalem. There are two responses to God in this chapter—shuddering in awe and dancing in joy. How can these two go together?
Do you worship God in this way? Do you have joy in your heart that may lead you to dance or give all of yourself before Him? Psalm 47:1 reads, “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” What is the opposite of this type of worship? Worshipping out of duty, or drudgery or going through the motions. That’s the wrong way to worship God. A lifeless, joyless duty bound worship where you simply come to church and have no desire to give you fully to Jesus.
Third, we should worship God in singular focus. David’s wife Michal became judgmental, bitter and upset with David and rebuked him for his outbreak of joy. David told her in verse 21: “It was before the LORD” that he was celebrating. David had a singular focus. He was not showing off in front of others. He was not trying to impress anyone. He was not drawing attention to himself so that people could look at him and see how awesome a worshipper he is. Instead, he has a singular focus with an audience of ONE—God Himself.
When you come to worship, are you more concerned about what others think of you or how you look to other? Are you trying to put on airs so that people will think more highly of you? Or do you simply come with one thing on your heart and mind—God is my audience and I’m here to worship Him alone.
Fourth, we should worship God in vulnerable humility. David was not afraid to be vulnerable before the Lord. He leaped and danced and didn’t care who was around or what people thought of him. In verse 22 he says that he will become more “contemptible” or “abased” in front of others. In other words, when you truly want to be open before the Lord in worship, you need to be vulnerable and humble. You need to be willing to be broken before God no matter what others think because you desire to honor Jesus. David was willing to be misunderstood or humiliated because having a deeper worship experience and relationship with Jesus was more important to him than the opinion of others.
What’s the opposite of this? Guardedness. An unwillingness to be broken. Having a hard heart not ready to repent—coming in with walls. You worship God in the right way when you come broken, humble, vulnerable, even if it means that in your repentance and worship others might misunderstand you.
So this weekend when you enter your place of worship, prepare your heart to come to Him in reverent awe. Prepare your heart to worship Him in overflowing joy. Prepare you heart to worship Him with a singular focus. Prepare your heart to worship Him in vulnerable humility. And this can only come through Jesus Christ alone who grants us access to the very throne room of the living God!