(H) For the director of the choir, according to “Gittith,” of Asaph. (1) Give a ringing cry of joy to God, our strength! Raise a shout to the God of Jacob! (2) Take up a song. Sound the tambourine, the sweet sounding lyre with the harp. (3) Blow the shofar at the new moon, at the full moon on the feast day, (4) for (it is) a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob. (5) He established it as a testimony in Joseph when he went out through the land of Egypt where we heard a language we did not know. (6) (God declares) “I removed his shoulder from the burden. His hands were freed from (carrying) the basket. (7) In distress you called, and I delivered you. I answered you in the secret place of thunder. I tested you at the waters of Meribah.” (Selah)
The one repetition found in this segment is the name, “God of Jacob” (vss. 1 & 4). In addition, this opening portion of the psalm contains three important clusters of synonyms that help us understand its emphasis. First, we find descriptions of loud, musical worship: “give a ringing cry of joy” and “raise a shout” (vs. 1), “take up a song,” “sound the tambourine,” and “the lyre” (vs. 2), and “blow the shofar” (vs. 3).
“Statute, ordinance, and testimony” are then used to remind us that this is the kind of worship God commanded to be offered on commemorative feast days (vss. 4 & 5). Finally, the verbs, “removed, freed, delivered, and answered” all describe how God rescued Jacob’s descendants from their captivity in Egypt (vss. 6 & 7).
I. What: God commanded Israel to worship regularly. (1-4)
II. Why: for delivering Israel from their bondage in Egypt (5-7)
God established regular times of celebratory worship for Israel to commemorate his delivering them from bondage in Egypt.
God commands our regular worship, something he clearly has the right to do. We are never out of the will of God when we declare to him our sincere praise and thanksgiving for all that he has done for us. Worship is something we should gladly offer him at all times. We can certainly do this as individuals in the privacy of our personal devotions, but we must also worship corporately, together with other believers, lifting our hearts and voices to him in united expressions of praise as the body of Christ.
When believers who fail to attend church on a regular basis are asked why, many offer an excuse that amounts to, “Since I don’t really get much out of it, why waste the time?” This kind of excuse runs contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture. For example, we read in Hebrews, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:25). We need to be sure that our thinking about worship conforms to what the Scriptures require.
Our motive for gathering together to praise God should never be focused on ourselves or what we can gain from it although great blessings await those who do so. Rather our worship should be viewed first and foremost as obedience to God's command to offer him the spiritual sacrifices of praise and gratitude he richly deserves for all he has done for us. When we make carrying out God's will the chief reason for our worship, we will inevitably be blessed as we enter his courts with praise.