Back to Basics

[135:1] Praise the LORD!

Praise the name of the LORD,

give praise, O servants of the LORD,

[2] who stand in the house of the LORD,

in the courts of the house of our God!

A word from God to those who serve in the temple to praise God. This is what verse 2 indicates. The Psalmist almost certainly addresses the priests whose work is to serve in the temple. And what does God say to those who know the Word better, whose business it is to mediate between God and the people, who study the law and interpret it for the people so that they will know God and how to do His will? He commands them to “praise the LORD.” He says it to them three times in the first two verses. In the last two he tells them to praise or bless the LORD five times. Is this poetic repetition? Is this just a grammatical form to emphasize a point or fit a rhyme scheme? Not at all.

Those who serve in the temple and handle the sacred things of God are more prone to go through mere actions of worship without their hearts and minds engaged in real worship, than other people. This is still true today for those who pastor and counsel and preach and evangelize and work as missionaries. They are so busy with finding out what to give others from the Word of God that they neglect to feed themselves. They fall unknowingly into treating the Bible as a text book or as a manual for them to use for the good of others, much the same way a doctor consults a medical journal. They are particularly tempted to think that their lives are OK and their call is simply to tell others how they should live and how the Scriptures apply to their people.

But it is not just a matter of commanding these leaders to praise God. We need to consider what they are being told in order to bring them to praise. The Psalmist recites the greatness of God (verses 5 – 7), the protection of God for His people (verses 8 – 14), the reality of God (verses 15-18). No deep secrets there are there? The leaders of Israel to whom this Psalm was particularly addressed, are not being told anything new. In fact, everything the Psalmist mentions is very well known. Every Israelite knew these things from a child. Shouldn’t a priest be able to handle greater and deeper stuff than the sovereignty, compassion and truthfulness of God? Of course, but that is not what they needed to sustain them when they are tempted to unfaithfulness and heartlessness in their work. When they are tempted to simply go through the routine of offering sacrifice without real passion and amazement and love for God and the people they were serving, what they need is to remember the basics.

Like the ancient priests, we too are tempted to forsake God for other things and what it will take to keep us from falling away is well know truths about God and the Gospel. All believers, pastor-elders, leaders, followers, behind the scenes types – it does not matter. What we need is to be constantly keeping the basic truths of our faith before us. The Bible is God’s infallible message to mankind. God is sovereign. We are sinners and God has sent His Son into the world to save sinners. Jesus Christ is the eternal God and a real man at the same time. He lived a sinless life. He died on the cross as the only sufficient punishment for sins which He did not commit. He rose from the dead and ascended to His Father in heaven and will return to finally end evil and return everything back to the way it was meant to be in the first place. These are things that we teach our children in Sunday School and they are what we still need to remain strong in the faith.

We will never grow beyond the Gospel. And when we feel ourselves drifting away from God or are just going through the routines of faith without our hearts engaged, what we need to do is rehearse that simple Gospel to ourselves. We need to get into the Bible and read it and pray over it and rejoice in it.

Today, remember to pray for the leaders of your church that they will never depart from the most glorious thing of all – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And pray it for yourself as well. It was what the ancient priests needed and it is what we need.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s