Psalm 138:1-2 - I give You thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing Your praise; I bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your Name for Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your Name and Your Word.
In these few verses, David the psalmist gives us a brief lesson about worship. This is not really his purpose; he is simply offering praise and thanks to God, but we can learn from his praise. Our lesson covers three topics: whom we worship, how we worship, and why we worship. When we gather on Sunday with other believers or when we offer praise during personal devotions at home, we know whom we worship, as David knew. All glory belongs to the only God, the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
How do we worship? David does not speak of our songs and psalms, even though he wrote quite a few of those himself. He gives thanks with his whole heart. Jesus said that the greatest and first commandment is "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37). That is how we worship God, with heart and soul and mind. We draw near to God with sins forgiven and "with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (Hebrews 10:22b). With the psalmist, we bow down in worship, that is, we enter the presence of God with awe, reverence, and humility.
Whenever and wherever we worship, we do so "before the gods." There is only one God, the almighty Creator of heaven and earth. As Scripture reminds us, "All the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens" (Psalm 96:5). We sing praise to God in the face of the world's many gods, not only the gods and goddesses of other religions, but other things worshiped as gods—wealth, power, earthly possessions, the worship of self, and so much more. When we attend church with our brothers and sisters in Christ to worship the Holy Trinity, we confess in the face of the world's idols that there is only one God.
When God gave His commandments, He began by telling His people who He was and what He had done for them: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:2-3). False idols cannot help those who worship them, but our God acted in power to save us. We offer up praise because God, in His steadfast love and faithfulness, remembered His covenant promise and sent His Son into the world to be its Savior. Through Jesus' redeeming death and His triumphant resurrection, we have been delivered from slavery to sin. In Jesus, God has exalted His Name and the promises of His Word. Before the world's gods, we bow down and whole-heartedly worship the God who redeemed us and made us His own.
WE PRAY: Lord, I give You thanks and praise with my whole heart. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
1. How do you prepare your heart and focus your mind to worship God?
2. How is God's Name and Word exalted above all things?
3. What are the things in this world that most distract you from a more whole-hearted faith and obedience to God?
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