By Shawn McMullen
But what leads us to worship? The Scriptures offer several motivating factors. Here are a few.
We worship God because we’re commanded to. David wrote, “You who fear the Lord, praise him!” (Psalm 22:23).
When tempted to worship Satan, Jesus rebuffed the devil’s request by alluding to an Old Testament passage. (The passage in reference is Deuteronomy 6:13 and in its context Moses is passing on commands he received directly from the Lord.) Jesus said, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only’” (Luke 4:8).
Near the end of his heavenly vision, John twice attempted to bow down and worship at the feet of an angel (Revelation 19:10 and 22:9). Both times the angel said, “Don’t do that . . . . Worship God!” We worship God from an obedient heart.
“Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song” (Psalm 95:2), the psalmist directed. A later psalm calls God’s people to “Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (106:1).
Four times in Psalm 107 (vv. 8, 15, 21, 31) we find the phrase, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.” Expressing gratitude to God was an integral part of Old Testament worship.
It is equally vital in New Testament worship: “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16).
When we reflect on God’s mercy and kindness and realize how unworthy we are to receive any good thing from his hand, we are led to worship him with gratitude.
“The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders” (Psalm 65:8), the psalmist declares. Therefore, “Let them praise your great and awesome name” (99:3). God’s sovereignty, power, and holiness set him so far above us we can do nothing but stand in awe of his greatness and glory. The writer of Hebrews adds, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28).
In John’s Revelation a voice from the throne spoke to the multitude in Heaven: “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both great and small!” (19:5). They responded with, “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!” (vv. 6, 7).
Heaven offers endless opportunities for praise and worship. I often wonder what that will be like—to stand before the throne and the Lamb and to worship with those “from every nation, tribe, people and language” (7:9).
I can’t have that experience yet, but I get a foretaste of it whenever I gather with believers to worship, praising God in anticipation of the day we’ll stand before him and honor him for eternity.