As a Worship Pastor, I am always seeking to lead the people of God to worship “in spirit and in truth” as Jesus said in John 4. If Paul is correct (and he is) that all Scripture is profitable for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17), then we should look to Scripture for principles to guide our worship.
I do not believe our worship should look exactly like the Old Testament or 1st Century Church. They existed in different times and different cultures. Even the worship of the nation of Israel evolved through the centuries. But we can certainly examine the Scriptures for eternal truths.
To do that, I did a quick survey of the corporate calls to worship in the Old Testament. These are times when the People of God are called to worship together. While this could apply to your individual worship, I was focusing on the assembly of God’s people. There corporate times of worship can be found in the Psalms (the hymnbook of Israel) as well as Ezra and Nehemiah (times of worship after returning from exile), Solomon’s dedication of the Temple (1 Kings 8), and some other places.
So, here is a quick list of the characteristics and descriptions of their worship.
What you hear: Loud Voice, singing, lifting up voices, praising, shouting, joyful noise, joyous song, making melody, so loud it “awakes the dawn”, new songs, old songs, singing for joy, clapping hands (I am positive they were clapping on beats 2 & 4), loud songs, skillful playing of instruments, loud shouts, trumpets, horns, lutes, harps, tambourines, strings, pipe instruments, cymbals, lyres, loud crashing
What you see: kneeling, hands spread, standing in the presence of the Word, dancing, lifting hands, trembling, quaking, bowing
The outcomes: confession, humility, openness, bearing fruit (righteous deeds), whole-heartedness, service, souls fainting/responding
What feelings, emotions, and principles do these descriptions evoke?
The instruments described are the instruments of either proclamation and victory (trumpets and horns) or of celebration and partying.
It gives the impression of being loud. And maybe even rowdy. Remember, David embarrassed his wife by his dancing (2 Sam 6) and Hannah prayed so intensely that Eli “seeing her but hearing no sound” thought she was drunk (1 Samuel 1)!
We see people physically responding based on the internal condition of their heart. Often today, people say, “I just worship in my heart and mind,” but Psalm 84 says “My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” Imagine if we got this excited…
I am so thankful to be in a singing church. There are times when more than anything I want to step away from the microphone and just listen to the People of God sing. Sometimes I do it. Sometimes I don’t. (But now you know what I’m doing when that happens…I didn’t just forget the words).
There are few sounds in this world as beautiful as God’s People singing in heartfelt, “whole-hearted” worship.
There are few sights in this world as beautiful as God’s People showing their devotion to Him through the expressions on their faces, the actions of their hands, and the demeanor of their bodies.