01/23/S – The Priority and Pathway of Praise

1 Chronicles 16:1-36; Romans 1:21-32; Psalms 10:16; Proverbs 4:14-19

OT: “They brought the ark of God and placed it inside the tent David had pitched for it. Then they offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings in God’s presence… David appointed some of the Levites to be ministers before the ark of the Lord, to celebrate the Lord God of Israel, and to give thanks and praise to him… On that day David decreed for the first time that thanks be given to the Lord by Asaph and his relatives: Give thanks to the Lord; call on his name; proclaim his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him; sing praise to him; tell about all his wondrous works! Boast in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his face always… He is the Lord our God; his judgments govern the whole earth. Remember his covenant forever — the promise he ordained for a thousand generations… Let the whole earth sing to the Lord. Proclaim his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his wondrous works among all peoples. For the Lord is great and highly praised; he is feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place. Ascribe to the Lord, families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness;” (‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭16:1, 4, 7-11, 14-15, 23-29‬ ‭CSB)

Once David inquired of the Lord and learned the proper way to move the Ark of God, he brought it to Jerusalem and placed it in a tabernacle that he built for that purpose. Then they worshipped the Lord before the ark in the presence of God. After they worshipped, David instituted a new order of Levites who would stand before the ark day and night and offer continuous praise and thanksgiving to God. To begin, David instructed Asaph to lead the congregation in praise to God through a glorious psalm that called everyone to give thanks to the Lord and remember His covenant, ascribe to God the glory that He deserved, and worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness. The word translated as “thanks” here is the Hebrew word ‘yadah’, which literally means to extend your hands as you lift up reverent worship, thanks and praise. Giving thanks and praise to God, honoring the Lord and ascribing to Him the glory that He deserved was a top priority for King David, and he made sure that it was a top priority for the nation that he led. It is easy for us to become consumed by the things that surround us and fight for our attention. It is easy for us to lose proper perspective and become overwhelmed by the cares and responsibilities of life. It is easy for us to forget the invisible God and place trust in the visible things of creation instead. Constant praise helps to prevent that drift from living in the presence of God to being surrounded and overcome by the forces at work in the world. David didn’t want to lose his way, and he didn’t want the people of God to lose their way, so he made praise and thanksgiving to God an ever-present personal and national priority.

NT: “For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles… They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen… And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a corrupt mind so that they do what is not right. They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Although they know God’s just sentence — that those who practice such things deserve to die — they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.” (‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:21-23, 25, 28-32‬ ‭CSB)

Paul, in the last part of the first chapter of Romans, tells a much different story than the story of David in 1 Chronicles. Paul’s story is the story of humanity (Jew and gentile alike) who neglected to glorify and give gratitude to God. They did not consider it worthwhile to acknowledge God and retain Him in their understanding and discernment. Because they dismissed God from their lives in order to pursue their own desires, they devolved into idolatry and depravity. This is a difficult portion of scripture to read, and I imagine many who explore the Bible disregard these verses – for they offend our flesh and convict us of things we don’t want to admit to. But sadly, this is the path of any and all who exchange the truth of God for the enticing deception of the world. We don’t mind reading these passages so much if we can point our finger at others and deflect these charges to the world around us. Don’t let Paul’s story lead to self-righteousness. Instead, we should let these words catalyze in honest self-examination unto leading us to the righteousness we can only receive from God as we return our gaze to Him and glorify Him once again.

Proverbs: “Keep off the path of the wicked; don’t proceed on the way of evil ones. Avoid it; don’t travel on it. Turn away from it, and pass it by… The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until midday. But the way of the wicked is like the darkest gloom; they don’t know what makes them stumble.” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:14-15, 18-19‬ ‭CSB)

The words of Solomon that he undoubtedly received from his father David, summarize this plea from the Lord so well. Keep off the path of the wicked… keep off the path that resists the way of God… keep off the path that launches out into the wild in arrogant independence. The path of the righteousness – the path of consistent and continuous praise and worship to God – leads us on the upward and ever-brightening call of God as we are transformed from glory to glory to glory. On the other hand, the way of the wicked leads to ever-increasing darkness and blindness. If you are on the way of the wicked, the good news is, it is not too late. You can repent… you can turn away from the path you are on and turn back to God by confessing your wrong and placing your faith in the salvation of Jesus Christ.

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