Throughout Our Lives

Throughout Psalm 119, the author has poured his heart out to the Lord, desperate for deliverance from his persecutors. He found himself oppressed and afflicted by men “without cause,” without any good reason for their attacks (v. 161). If we were in his shoes, I imagine we would cry out as well. Yet the Psalmist’s interactions with the Lord weren’t exclusively cries for rescue. Even in the midst of all he endured, he chose to worship. Notice the beginning of the next stanza:

“Princes persecute me without cause,

But my heart stands in awe of Your words.” (v. 161)

The Psalmist wasn’t blind to his situation. He openly acknowledges the trial he was facing. However, he did not allow those external circumstances to dictate his inner decision to worship. Although the word “worship” doesn’t appear in the stanza, that is exactly what he is doing. He is choosing to reverence God from the heart.

The following verses support this conclusion. He chose to “rejoice at [God’s] word” (v. 162a). Not only that, but he chose to highly value it “as one who finds great spoil” (v. 162b). He turned from “falsehood” and chose to “love” God’s Word (v. 163). And he chose to “praise” the Lord because of what He had spoken (v. 164). His worship was sincere, for it flowed from a heart bent on seeking the Lord. He rooted his worship in the fact that God had revealed Himself through Scripture. Because the Lord and His Word do not change, our reason for worship doesn’t either. Regardless of whether we ‘feel’ like worshipping or not, our God is worthy of our praise and submission.

Praise and submission? Weren’t we talking about worship? Yes, but worship is far more than simply praising God through song. It’s even more than praising Him through prayer. It is acknowledging who He is, bringing all of our lives in submission to Him. Paul makes this point in Romans 12:1 where he calls us “to present [our[ bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” He’s not talking about the church service. He’s saying that the way we live each day can itself be a form of worship. By submitting to the Lord, we are acknowledging that He is worthy to be feared and obeyed.

And that is precisely what the Psalmist does in the rest of the stanza. He testifies that his worship is on-going, for he praises the Lord “seven times a day” (v. 164). As he waits for God’s “salvation,” he chooses to “do [His] commandments” (v. 166). He prays, “My soul keeps Your testimonies” (v. 167). He was submitting to the Lord from his innermost being—he wasn’t putting on a show. He acknowledges the Lord sees everything and says again, “I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies” (v. 168). He was choosing to worship in every way. It began within his heart , was expressed through his words, and was displayed through his life.

This understanding of worship stretches our 21st century view that relegates worship only to music. Absolutely, we should praise God through what we sing. The book of Psalms is full of such calls to worship. Yet if that is the only way we acknowledge the worth of the Lord, we aren’t bringing Him the glory He deserves. He is worthy of every part of us, not just our voices. His way is best, and we ascribe worth to His name by choosing to align our lives with His Word.

So will we choose to worship the Lord? True worship isn’t contingent upon a feeling, a place, or even a set of circumstances. Jesus is Lord over all, and we express that truth by worshipping throughout our lives. Will we choose to give Him the glory He deserves?


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