People can be passionate about the most amazing things. Consider how some folks view their cars as rolling billboards regarding ideologies they hold near and dear: What do you think this person is sold out to? I’m thinking they don’t think too much of the Air Force, Navy, Army, or Coast Guard. What would you
say? Here’s another: I guess this person is all about Army Rangers.
Others have a deep, fanatical commitment to their sports team. They are not hard to pick out of a crowd. You can’t help but see and hear them. And, then, you have those people who are absolutely fanatical and passionate about their food. They even have their own magazine:
For those who are really focused on food, they probably never miss an episode of this well-watched show on the Food Network:
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point about passion. You know it when you see it, right? All of this makes me wonder, what does passionate worship look like in the life of a maturing Christian? Does it mean you are known for enjoying worship services where no one moves a muscle as they sing? And if anyone does, you enter the faith freak-out zone, “Honey, do you see that guy over there with his hands up? Unbelievable.” Does it mean you can only connect with God when the worship team has ripped and torn jeans, a few tats here and there, a couple of
guys with baseball caps on as they play? I’d say it’s fairly easy to spot passionate folks at various places in our complex, creative culture, but I can’t help but turn and wonder . . .
What Does Worship Passion Look Like in The Life of a Maturing Christ-follower? (Psalm 84)
The answer to this timely query is fortunately on full display in Psalm 84. The superscription, as I’ve denoted before, is part of the divinely inspired text and it therefore forms verse one of the Hebrew text. Most of our English translations rightfully include it in the opening verse. Psalm 84 is no exception:
1 To the Chief Musician. On an instrument of Gath. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.
The head worship leader in the Tabernacle/Temple is instructed here to play this particular worship song on an instrument unknown to us know. Although we don’t know what this instrument this was, the principle is still the same among worship leaders: they advise other leaders to play certain songs on certain instruments for a certain worship effect. Also, for this song the “sons of Korah,” who were Israel’s priestly singers, were called to vocally lead this particular
number. Just the mention of the “sons of Korah” is a statement of the judgment of God, coupled with His rich, forgiving grace. Their ancestor, Ishzr, was the father of Moses and Aaron, hence their birth position placed them close to the priesthood. This reality is what made the rebellion of their forefather, Korah . . . along with Dathan and Abiram . . . against the leadership of Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness most shocking and repulsive to God (Numb. 16:31-35). A localized divinely ordered earthquake swallowed the insurrectionists as a definitive word from God to never question His appointed leaders. God does not tolerate rebellion because of its contagious ways.
This judgment did not negatively impact the tribe, however. During David’s rule, we learn how tribal members were placed in charge of Temple singing (Psalm 42, 44-49, 84, 85, 87, and 88). They led worship when the ark came to Jerusalem (1 Chron. 6:31-33), and they continued in this role until the Temple was constructed under Solomon. Once the Temple was complete, they continued as Israel’s singing priests. We learn from 1 Chronicles 9:19 and 26:19 they also humbly
served as gatekeepers in the Temple precincts, and they cooked the sacrificial cakes needed for worship (1 Chron. 9:31). All of this tells us that the sin and judgment of one did not become the sin and judgment of the many. On the contrary, God showed wonderful mercy to these men and used them despite the dastardly deed of their forefather. God can, and will, use you in special ways regardless of the spiritual dysfunction of your family line as well. Give Him praise.
Starting with the second half of verse one and running through verse 4, the lyricist gives us the first of our descriptions of what constitutes as worshipper who is on the road to worship maturity. Here we are introduced to this eternal truth:
Maturing Believers Are Passionate About Worship (Psalm 84:1-4)
Read the verses in questions and you’ll see what I mean:
1 How lovely is Your tabernacle, O LORD of hosts!
The words here describe what worship passion looks like.
Verse 1: the worshipper loves the worship location. The Hebrew author purposefully left out the main verb/copula in order through the figure of speech called ellipsis to make this statement most emphatic. Of all the places on earth, the worshipper sold out to worship of the living God believes the worship building is the be-all, end-all of beautiful edifices. The building is literally the word tabernacle, or tent. It can denote Israel’s first worship center, viz., the
portable tent (Ex. 25-40), but it probably references the Solomonic Temple because in a few verses the worshipper is found praying for “your anointed,” meschiackeka ( ֶֽיחִ שְׁ מ ,( which is an ancient title of Israel’s king (Psalm 84:9; 2 Chron. 6:42; Psalm 132:10).
Why was it beautiful beyond measure? Structurally this crouching lion shaped
building (the raised Holy Place and Holy of Holies served as the lion’s body while
the lower side rooms represented the legs of the beast) was magnificent as its
white stone glistened in the rising sun for all to see atop Mount Zion. But it was lovely and beloved from another perspective, too. When God gave Moses instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle, He started with the construction of the Ark of the Covenant, located in the Holy of Holies, and then worked His way eastward toward the sacrificial altar and the lone entrance and
exit (Ex. 24-40). All of this clearly showed that God, who is holy, willingly reached out to sinful man to show His love for him and to demonstrate how that sinner could properly approach him and have a viable relationship with Him. Of course, the tabernacle/temple told sinners where to worship God, while the first seven chapters of Leviticus told them how to approach God by means of appropriate, divinely sanctioned sacrifices. Hence, the site of the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, was always a welcomed sight for the sore eyes of sinner for here is where they’d find forgiveness, grace, and mercy.
True, today we, as New Testament saints, are amazingly the temple of the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16). Because of our faith relationship with Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice for sinners, we have constant access into God’s holy presence (Heb. 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need). However, the command in Hebrews 10:24-25 to be involved with corporate worship, also teaches us to enjoy being in a building worshipping God . . . even though we are His temples. So I have to ask you, “Is this building, this worship center beloved to you? Is it a sacred place where you know you are going to worship and hear from God?” Do you ever sit in worship and say to yourself, “Ah, this feels so right being here”? Such is the thinking of a believer who is growing up in the faith.
Verse 1: the worshipper has deep thoughts about the multifaceted character and person of God. This is denoted when he exclaims “O LORD of hosts,” Yahweh Sebaoth ( וֹתֽ אָבְ צ הָ ֥הוְי ,( which is a concept he employs here more than once (Psalm 84:3, 8, and 12). The first part of this name of God speaks of His eternal nature, while the second part denotes Him as the ruler of the innumerable angelic army. Elisha, when the Syrian army surrounded him, wasn’t uptight because as a worshipper of the eternal God, God gave him a glimpse of His dimension and the amount of angelic troops surrounded and protected Elisha (2 Kings 6:17). Throughout this amazing, instructive psalm, the worshipper gives us a robust understanding of the God he worships. He calls Him Yahweh, or the eternal one, in verse 2, as well as “the living God,” el chay ( יָֽ ל־חֵֽ א .( Of course, both of these titles stand in contradistinction to the lifeless “gods” of the surrounding culture. Israel’s God is the God who is and who is always with them.
No wonder He’s worthy of worship in His sanctuary. Knowing that God exists and He has promised to accept your worship specifically when you enter into a house of worship excites a maturing believer. That excitement pours from the papyrus of the ancient verses which close out this section:
2 My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
The perfect tense of the verb for “longs” here can grammatically be classified as a present perfect. As such, it represents how the worshipper thinks about worship on a moment by moment basis. No matter where he is or what he is doing, his inner man is always longing to be in corporate worship. Really, it’s all he thinks about. It consumes him. The verb “faints,” calah ( הָ֙ תְלָכּ ,(literally speaks of completing a building project (1 Kings 6:38). Applied to longing, it readily means the maturing believer only finds completion for his worship desire when he is actually in the worship center.
Have you not ever felt like this? Some of you, who came back to corporate worship for Easter after being absent for several months because of Covid, said this much to me, “You can’t believe how good it feels to be sitting here in this place of worship. It just feels right.” I agree. Your soul is complete because it is where it should be and is doing what it is designed to do: worship the living God. Hence, it’s easy to understand why the psalmist states, “My heart and flesh
cry out for the living God.” “God I can’t wait to lift up your mighty name. God I’m so excited to worship you with your saints. God I know I’m going to hear from you as I participate in worship songs and hear the Word of God read and taught.” What could be better?”
This maturing worshipper is so passionate about worshipping God, he’s envious of little birds who have happened to build their nests on the Temple precincts:
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where
she may lay her young-- Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, My King and my God.
I remember the first time I went to the White House to pray with Vice President Pence’s staff. Once I gained access to this special place, I, as an avid gardener, couldn’t believe how beautiful the grounds were. I thought to myself as I passed the President’s massive black limo, “If I could just be a gardener here, I’d be content. Those gardeners are so lucky.” This is the type of mindset
possessed by the maturing worshipper. He’s so in love with being in corporate worship, he’s envious of little birds who get to live on the grounds where it all happens.
All of this passion builds to a climax with the statement of the Psalmist in verse 4. It is the first of several beatitudes:
4 Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising You. Selah
The Qal participle here “to dwell” ( יֵ֣בְ יוֹשׁ ( is probably best classified as an iterative use of the participle, stressing something which happens on a perpetual basis. This, in and of itself, drips with passion. From this we learn that those who frequently show up for worship are in fact blessed of God. Why are they blessed? Because they are doing what they are commanded and created to do: worship the living God. Are you maturing in your worship of God? How do you know if you are? You will have a driving passion, a thirst, a longing to move from private to
corporate worship. If you lack this, then I think you know what to ask God for, right? Additionally,
Maturing Worshippers Are Passionate About Recognizing God’s Provision Prior to Worship (Psalm 84:5-7)
First, allow me to read the text, and then we will make a few observations:
5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. The picture here is of an Israelite in love with worship of God taking an arduous, costly, and sometimes dangerous journey to Jerusalem to participate in a worship service. Jewish men were required by the Mosaic Law to travel to the Holy City three times a year for a holy religious festival, viz., Shalosh Regalim: Passover (Pesach), Weeks/Pentecost (Shavuot), and Tabernacles (Sukkot, Ex. 23:14-17; 34:18-23; Deut. 16:1-17). This may be what is denoted here, but it can also reference a time when a worshipper headed to Jerusalem to enjoy worship at some other time in the religious calendar year.
What is denoted is the fact that divine blessing rests upon a person who sets a course to get to worship. Did you think of that as you piled into the car, van, and/or truck today to get to worship? Probably not, but it is true. When you are being obedient to fulfill God’s design for you, the smile of His blessing rests on and over you. Our journey to worship is not as demanding as that of ancient saints. Sure, you can hit traffic in the D.C. area, and you may bump into some rude and aggressive drivers; however, I highly doubt you’ll be traveling through the Valley of Baca. Brown, Driver, and Briggs’ Hebrew Lexicon gives us a lexical definition of Baca:
†הָכָבּ —1. weep (in grief, humiliation, or joy), abs. Gn 42:24; 43:30() Ex 2:6; Nu 11:4, 10; 14:1; 1 S 1:7, 8, 10; 11:5; 30:4() 2 S 1:12; 3:16; 13:36; 15:30(); 19:1, 2; 2 K 8:11, 12; Is 30:19(); Je 41:6; 50:4; Ez 24:16, 23; La 1:2 Zc 7:3 Jo 1:5; 2:17 ψ 78:64; 126:6 cf. 69:11 (but on text v. Che) Jb 27:15; Ec 3:4 (opp. laugh שׂחק (Ezr 10:1 Ne 8:9 Est 8:3; once c. inanim. attašab Assyrian. cf יָשַׁ בְ תִּ י וָאֶ בְ כֶּה 4:1 Ne on; weep itsfurrows תְּ לָמֶ יהָ יִב׳ 38:31 Jb. subj abakî, Flood1st ed. Gu 77 Hpti. 145; of loud weeping יּב׳ַו קּוֹלַה אָ שָׂנ † ִ Gn 21:16; 27:38; 29:11; Ju 2:4; 21:2; 1 S 11:4; 24:17; 2 S 3:32; 13:36; Jb 2:12; Ru 1:9, 14, cf. י׳ יֵנְ זָ אְ בּ בּ׳ Nu 11:18, also Jb 30:31. 2. c. acc. cogn. יִ כְ בּ Ju 21:2 2 S 13:36 2 K 20:3 = Is 38:3, cf. יִ כְ בִ בּ Is בּ׳ בקול .cf, 23:15 S 2 קוֹל גָּדוֹל .sq; 1:10 Ezr בּ׳ הַרְ בֶּה בֶּכֶה & ,32:48 Je מִ בְּ כִ י ,9:16 גדול Ezr 3:12; weep bitterly ב׳ִי רַ מ Is 33:7; also c. Inf. abs. weep intensely, grievously 1 S 1:10; Je 22:10; La 1:2, cf.; Is 30:19 & Mi 1:10 (but on text v. supr.) 3. sq. לַע weep upon, i.e. embrace and weep, ל־צואריוַע Gn 45:14; 46:29 cf. 45:15; 50:1; also יוָנָל־פַּע בּ׳ 2 K 13:14; v. further Gn 33:4; 45:14 & הוֵּעֵ ת־רֶ א ישִׁ א כּוְּ יּבַו ִ1 S 20:41; also sq. לַע weep over, for Ju 11:37, 38; 2 S 3:34; La 1:16; sq. ל־ֶ א 2 S 1:24; 3:32; Ez 27:31; sq. ְל Je 22:10;
48:32; Jb 30:25; sq. יִנְ פִּ מ because of Je 13:17 (נפשׁ ;(sq. temp. clause (of occasion of weeping) Gn 50:17 ψ 137:1; Ne 8:9. 4. sq. acc. bewail Gn 23:2; 37:35; 50:3; Lv 10:6; Nu 20:29; Dt 21:13; 34:8; Je 8:23, cf. Is. 16:9. 5. sq. לַע in sense of burden. annoy with weeping Nu 11:13; Ju 14:16, 17 cf. יֵנְ פִל Nu 11:20. 6. י׳ יֵנְ פִל בּ׳ of penitent weeping Ju 20:23 (cf. Be; v. also 21:2) Dt 1:45; 2 K 22:19; 2 Ch 34:27, cf. also Nu 25:6; joined with fasting Ju 20:26; 2 S 12:21, 22 cf. Ezr 10:1; so of weeping in anxious entreaty Ho 4:5; on pt. as n.pr. Ju 2:1, 5 v. יםִ כֹבּ infr. Pi. Pt. fs. הָכַּבְ מ lament Je 31:15 sq. לַע ;bewail, pl.
כּוֹתַבְ מ sq. acc. Ez 8:14.0F
I’m sure you get the picture. The psalmist is saying that there are times when you travel to worship that the six days prior to worship have been full of tears, hardship, and adversity. Ever been there? I have. Bad news from the doctor. A prayer request concerning someone you love you didn’t want to receive. An email from your employer which turned your world upside down. A troublesome text from a colleague you were not expecting.
The response of the maturing worshipper, conversely, uses those situations to be a blessing to those they come into contact with as they head worship at the end of the week. They bless by being positive. They bless by praying for those in need. They bless by giving fellow travelers words of hope. In so doing they make the dry, parched, cracked ground of adversity receive life-giving water which issues from the Spirit of God. And as they go about touching needy lives throughout the week, what happens? They go from strength to strength, meaning God gives them strength to handle the load of life so they are empowered to appear in His presence and praise His mighty name.
Again, I must ask, “Is this you?” Are you seeing needs and meeting needs as you prepare for worship? As those needs are met, are you seeing God’s powerful, loving hand in all of this? If so, I know He is building you up, really strengthening you for the next worship service. Maturing worshippers don’t complain about the journey. On the contrary, they are thankful for the journey because they know they are called to be the hands and feet of Christ to those in need as they pass
by headed to worship. May your life, regardless of what you are up against, be full of God’s peace so you can be His provision.Third,
Maturing Worshippers Are Passionate About Prayers for Leaders (Psalm 84:8-9)
Once more, let’s read the inspired text and then offer some salient observations:
8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
O God, behold our shield, and look upon the face of Your anointed.
The Psalmist employs three titles for God here: LORD God of hosts, speaks of His eternality and power over angelic armies; God of Jacob, speaks of His covenantal loyalty to the covenant He made with Israel’s forefathers, and God . . . our shield, describes the Creator as the One possessing power to protect His people as they live in this sin-laden, carnally complex world.
Interesting. His request is bathed in lofty thoughts about God because it is these characteristics of God which will pragmatically impact His request(s). All of this should make you stop and ponder which titles of God you employ as you worship God and offer requests to Him. Not only does God love to hear you worship Him in this fashion, the various titles will help you understand that He is a God who will be there for you because He loves you, He is with you, and He has more than enough power to assist you.
What is most interesting here is what the psalmist asks for: “look upon the face of Your anointed.” The wording speaks expressly of Israel’s king. He’s the anointed one before God and he is responsible and accountable to God because God, as Daniel reminds us, placed him in his powerful position over people:
20 Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for
wisdom and might are His. 21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He
removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding (Dan. 2).
Kings, or political leaders, are providentially placed by God to accomplish His lofty, eternal purposes. They are, also, responsible, as men and women possessing free wills, for their actions while they are in office. Whether they are godly or ungodly, lawful or lawless, respectful or disrespectful, honest or dishonest, humble or hungry for power, they will one day stand before
God, as Nebuchadnezzar did, and give account of how they led. They are in a key position to impact the world for God and for good, and God will examine the ledger of their leadership when He sees them.
All of this is why we, as maturing saints, are called to worship God by specifically praying for those He has permitted to be in positions of power. Did you hear me? Instead of being critically consumed with their personal deficiencies and sinful characteristics (and both parties have their share of sinful people), we need to be praying over them so they can sense God’s leadership and follow Him. This does not mean we are to be undisturbed by the wickedness of a leader. Godly people are to be the godly voice to the world, as the prophets were in biblical times. Nevertheless, we are to be first ones who worship God by petitioning Him to actively help those who exercise authority over the lives of millions of people.
So, regardless of which party has a leader in office, what should we, as maturing saints, be praying for as we are worshipping God?
• That our leaders would love God and God’s way.
• That our leaders would love law and hate lawlessness.
• That our leaders would love principle and not power.
• That our leaders would live lives free of hypocrisy.
• That our leaders would unite us, not divide us.
• That our leaders would strive for moral living and eschew immoral living.
• That our leaders would surround themselves with wise people, not wicked
• That our leaders would love and respect all lives since God most certainly does.
• That our leaders would be wise as opposed to naïve concerning our enemies
• That our leaders would see the value of Christian people and the Word of God,
• That our leaders would . . . well, you can fill in the blank, I’m sure.
The psalmist’s point is well-taken. When people are passionate about their worship of God, they are focused on asking His blessing on those earthly powers who exercise leadership over them.
How are you doing in this pivotal area? I’d dare say we can all grow here and we need to soon for so much is at stake in our country.
Maturing Worshippers Are Passionate About Why They Worship (Psalm 84:10)
I love this next insightful, instructive verse:
10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
As you can see from this picture I took in 2015 of southwest view of the Jerusalem Temple model, there are many doors for entrance and exit. From what
we know of the tribe of Korah, some of them were assigned to man these massive doors during times of daily worship. Thinking about these doors and doorkeepers, moves the Psalmist to make a truthful observation. He’d rather be a door greeter in the Temple than to pitch his tent where wickedness is present, be
what it may. Why? He’d rather be here for to be here was to be in God’s presence with God’s people. What could be better? To be in corporate worship was to get
a taste of the world to come, to hear people worshipping God with wonderful words and music, and to see sacrifices being offered to cover the sin of sinners.
So, why would a saint want to be anywhere else when the doors for worship are open? Pragmatically, we could ask, “Why would you want to be at a Nat’s game on a Sunday when you can be here? Why would you want to go to a concert at Wolf trap on a Sunday when you can be in corporate worship? Why would you want to watch a professional football game on a Sunday morning when you can be here with God’s people lifting up His mighty name?” Yeah, a growing saint will always be a person who won’t mind doing the most menial job on a Sunday so they can, at least, be near corporate worship of the living God. What a perspective. Is it your perspective is the question?
Maturing Passionate Worshippers Are Passionate About Sharing A New Perspective God Gives (Psalm 84:11-12)
When you actively participate in worship, God always gives you a word, a new thought, a deeper insight into yourself and life, and a new understanding of who He is. This is what the passionate psalmist shares here:
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
12 O LORD of hosts, Blessed is the man who trusts in You!
He couldn’t wait to leave worship and talk about what He
learned about God.
• God is our sun, meaning He gives us light to
our life path and makes us productive.
• God is our shield, meaning He protects us
from the fiery darts of our Adversary and his minions.
• God gives grace to those who are hurting and needy and need some love.
• God gives glory to his saints, meaning there is a glow about them for they have
been in worship . . . yes . . . people can just sense something different about them.
• God blesses those who live in light of God’s laws, and He will judge those who
are a law unto themselves.
• God blesses the person who trusts in God’s leadership, and not in his own
Haven’t felt this way? Hasn’t God given you a word as you’ve worshipped? Hasn’t He rattled your cage, stopped you in your tracks, built up your spirit, and challenged you to live a more devoted life as you’ve left worship? I’m sure He has. Then passionately share what He has taught you. It’s a sign of a maturing worshipper.
Say, while you’re at it, it might be time to show your
worship passion on your car with a bumper sticker for