“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving And pay your vows to the Most High; Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.” (Psalm 50:14-15)
Often times, when we think about worship, our minds quickly go to that time each week when we gather together as a body of believers to sing songs of praise to the Lord. While that is a time when worship can absolutely happen, Psalm 50:14-15 identifies two components that must be present for worship to be effective in those corporate worship times and ensures that our daily lives are acts of worship as well.
These verses are found in a psalm that presents God as a judge, bringing a charge against Israel for their sinful approach to coming to Him in “worship.” The sin being confronted was the attitude behind the fulfillment of Biblically required sacrifices and vows. The attitude behind the sacrifice was arrogant and their daily lives were characterized by sin and not holiness. It was in this context that God communicated what was required for worship to be authentic and acceptable. Genuine worship is found when one is thankful to and dependent on God.
“Thus says the Lord: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is My footstool; what is the house that you would build for Me, and what is the place of My rest? All these things My hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:1-2)
God is worshipped when we come to him in humility. The specific offerings that were required in the Levitical Law (both sacrifices and vows offered to God) were to be accompanied by a spirit of humility. This humility is demonstrated when we recognize that everything comes from God and we thank Him for it (Psalm 50:14) and we look to Him for our needs because we know that we are helpless and are dependent on Him for everything (Psalm 50:15).
Our pride is seen when we come to God to bring Him something that we believe He lacks or we demonstrate independence by not turning to Him for help. A thankful heart and a dependent spirit come from knowing that the Lord is in need of nothing and that everything that is brought to Him ultimately comes from His good and generous hand (Psalm 50:10-13). It also comes from the understanding that He “gives to all people life and breath and all things” (Acts 17:25) and that He “holds all things together” (Col 1:17) and that He “is in work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). When we come to Him lacking this understanding, we come to Him in pride and our worship is in vain.
So as we come to our corporate worship time and as we sing songs of praise, it is not the singing of the songs that is God-honoring, it is the heart attitude of thanksgiving and the absolute dependence on the God to whom we sing that ensures the songs to be authentic worship. As we live our daily lives, a life of worship is expressed through an attitude that recognizes our need for Him and is seen in our daily dependence on Him in prayer and counsel from His word and an “attitude of gratitude” that thanks the Lord for His work and provision in our lives.
Let us learn the lesson of humility by viewing this accusation against the nation of Israel. Let us worship to the Lord in dependence and gratitude. God is glorified when we come to Him understanding our need, and we seek Him for the fulfillment of that need and thank Him for what He provides.