WORSHIP THE LORD FOR HIS MAJESTY
On March 23, 1743, when “The Messiah” was first performed in London, the king was present in the great audience. When the majesty of the Lord was proclaimed by the words of the Hallelujah Chorus, “For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth”, everyone was so deeply moved that they rose as one to their feet–including the king — to show their respect and to worship the Sovereign of the Universe. That began the tradition of standing throughout the Hallelujah Chorus.
Countries like older England that have an impressive tradition of royalty and a reigning king that is accorded the utmost respect and allegiance have a better understanding of majesty than we do today in the United States. Our leaders are subjected to intense scrutiny and often harsh criticism and unjustified attacks. One doesn’t get the sense of majesty and respect in the tone of a Sam Donaldson or a Dan Rather as they interact with our leaders. Instead our leaders are the subject of laughter and ridicule as our comedians make a living off of their perceived weaknesses and mistakes.
Our view of God has suffered from our failure to capture a sense of His Majesty. The God of contempory evangelicalism is a very personal God–someone with whom we can enjoy intimate fellowship. He is our best friend and the one to whom we can bring all of our troubles. We have a great high priest who became flesh and blood so that He can be a perfect mediator between God and man.
But in stressing our closeness to God we have lost sight of His majesty — the great gulf that exists between God and us because of His greatness. He is not like us — God is not limited like we are in His wisdom, in His presence, in His power, in His effectiveness. He is eternal, infinite, almighty.
Our hymns reflect this emphasis on a personal God who is very much like ourselves. The short, catchy, repetitive tones of our popular choruses lack the organ pealing of the traditional hymns of the faith that proclaim such a greater depth about the character of our God. Our prayers reflect this emphasis–we are having a conversation with a friend that is right here sitting beside us rather than approaching the throne of grace of the God who sits on High — not that He is distant from us in space, but that He is far above us in greatness and deserves our reverence and adoration. The majesty of God should be directly tied to the fear of God.
Packer in Knowing God has a chapter on the Majesty of God that is very helpful. He notes that our lack of the sense of the Majesty of God is one key reason why our faith is so weak and our worship so flabby. We don’t have a God who is big enough to solve our problems. We don’t have a God who is worthy of time and effort expended in prayer and praise and adoration. We have a God that we have remade in our own image instead of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who reigns in Supremacy over the universe.
How can we reshape our thinking to meditate upon God’s greatness? One way which touches our senses as well as our intellect is to compare God with natural powers and forces that we have experienced and that we already regard as great and awesome.
I. (:1-2) WORSHIP THE LORD FOR HIS MAJESTY =
HIS GLORY AND STRENGTH
Call to Worship
A. The Name of the Lord Gives Testimony to His Majesty — lit. YHWH
(pronounced Yahweh) 18 times in this short psalm
this is the most significant name for God in the OT – 3 fold signif.:
1. the active, self-existent one
(connected with the verb “to be” in Exod. 3:14)
uncreated, responsible to no one
Life is in Him and only He can give and sustain life
2. the eternal one (Ps.90:1-2)
3. Israel’s Redeemer (Exod. 6:6) and the all-sufficient one to meet our every need
His name is associated with God’s holiness; His hatred of sin; and His gracious provision of redemption
B. The Nature of His Priests Gives Testimony to His Majesty
1. “O mighty ones” — referring to angels, the celestial spirits most familiar with God’s glory “sons of God” (Job 2:1)
2. “in holy array” or “in the beauty of holiness”
Is. 6:1-7 gives a picture of what this type of worship on the part of the angels means — refers probably to the Lord’s holiness — worship the Lord for the splendor of His holiness (cf.Rev.4)
His priests are to ascribe to Him Majesty — echo back the Majesty they see God demonstrate
We have been elevated by God to a priestly status — what are we doing to give testimony to God’s glory and power? Are we doubting God? complaining about what the Master of the Universe is doing in our life?
The Lord is not interested in the church worshipping in a fancy cathedral. He saw to it that the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed. God wants our holy lives to be the sphere for the simplicity of spiritual worship.
C. The Nature of God Gives Testimony to His Majesty
1. Glory — preeminence “the heavens declare the glory of God” Ps.19
In this Psalm we will see the glory of God revealed in an awesome thunderstorm.
2. Strength — omnipotence; able to do as He pleases; thus He is able to give us the strength that we need in the storms of life
II. (:3-9) THE LORD DEMONSTRATES HIS MAJESTY IN THE SEVEN THUNDERS (“THE VOICE OF THE LORD”) OF A THUNDERSTORM
constantly emphasizing both the Lord’s power and His glory
David is describing a mighty thunderstorm that begins over the waters of the Mediterranean to the West of the nation Israel — sound carries exceptionally well over water. It must have been a fearsome thing to have been caught out in the waters in a small boat when one of these storms erupted!
The storm breaks in full fury over the mountains of Lebanon and Sirion (Mt. Hebron) — the strongest wood known to them — God snaps the trees off like toothpicks. It takes a lot of strength to knock over huge trees.
The storm is not being driven by God’s anger and judgment, but by His majestic power in the mountains and the forests; the storm effects all of nature.
Finally the storm passes out of sight and sound into the desert of Kadesh.
The only response is what the angels declare in God’s celestial temple: “Glory” — there’s not a whole lot you can say; you can’t add to the impressive testimony given by God Himself — you can just agree
with it and confess it.
III. (:10-11) THE LORD EXERCISES HIS MAJESTY IN PROVIDING FOR HIS PEOPLE
The opening of the Psalm showed us the heavens opened and the throne of God in the midst of angelic songs of praise; now at the close of the Psalm we see the benefits to God’s people on earth from God ruling in Majesty, seated on His throne.
We are reminded of the great flood of Noah’s day — that first instance where God dispensed the rains from heaven — we saw the terrible effects of that deluge and yet the gracious provision of God for His people in the form of the ark to bring them to safety and in the symbol of the rainbow to remind them of His mercy.
The Lord provides the two things His people need the most:
“Humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God”
Transition: usually strength would be associated with destruction or the inability to control such power and use it for productive means (cf.problem with nuclear power — how to harness and use it for good); but with God His strength is coupled with the provision of Peace; not chaotic.
What is troubling you today — Cast all of your cares upon Him
THE STORMS OF LIFE MUST BE SEEN IN LIGHT OF THE MAJESTY OF GOD
Is. 40:12-31 the greatness of God emphasized along with its practical application;
God speaking to a people whose mood is the mood of many Christians today:
discouraged people, fearful people overwhelmed with problems,
secretly despairing in their hearts even while their lips sing of the glories of their God, people who have given up hope that God will keep His promises -or at least there will be no strength and no peace until heaven
1) (:25) Don’t make the mistake of thinking that God is like us
2) (:27) Don’t imagine that God has abandoned you
He is the eternal God, not a temporary God or a part-time God;
Not Queen for a Day;
Never resign yourself to thinking that the God of Majesty has left you high and dry.
3) (:31) Wait upon the Lord for His strength and His peace
He will exchange our weakness for His strength;
with apparently no effort the eagle mounts high in the sky — so the people of God will mount up from the depths of their griefs and difficulties.
4) The Lord Jesus laid aside His Majesty in the Kenosis (Phil. 2) — He is coming again in full majesty and glory and power– read Rev. 19:6-9