When I first started digging in the Bible to see what I could learn about worship (that story here), my first goal was to see what I could learn from biblical worshipers. And I was so blown away by that initial search, I couldn’t stop excavating the gold mine I had just found – as if I’d never seen any of it before!
And now, as I begin a blog series to unearth the treasure we have in biblical worshipers, how can I not start with David? That topic alone could be a huge, hard-backed, fancy-pictured, coffee table book – right? But for the sake of blog post etiquette, I’ll try to control myself. So let’s go!
Here are 10 ways to worship with a heart like David’s:
1) David’s worship showed how hard he sought to know God.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous” (Psalm 19:7-9).
We all know that God called David “a man after My heart” (Acts 13:22). And he displays that all over the psalms. Here in Psalm 19, after poetically seeing God in the intricacies of the heavens (v.1-6), he immediately expresses his love of God’s law.
We have so much to learn from David about how He seeks, sees, and is in awe of God. The same God who created the breathtaking works around us is the same God who spoke the Word and still speaks it into our lives. Those are all reasons to worship Him.
2) David fully engaged his heart in worship to God.
“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:1-5).
This is the response of David’s heart towards God at a very difficult time in his life. (And he had plenty of those!) God isn’t just some mighty but distant God to David. God is his God, and David adored Him. Oh, how we should each pray that our hearts would be open and free to respond to our loving God with adoring worship!
3) David didn’t take approaching God’s throne lightly.
“O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart” (Psalm 15:1-2).
David wanted his worship to be acceptable to God and knew it couldn’t be separated in the least from the rest of his life. He knew if he chose to live a life contrary to God’s word, then any words of worship he may utter would fall empty (Mark 7: 6-7a).
4) David embraced the sacrifice of worship.
“Willingly I will sacrifice to You; I will give thanks to Your name, O LORD, for it is good” (Psalm 54:6).
David knew that any “sacrifice” of his time, energy, or focus in worship paled greatly to the glimpse of God’s greatness and goodness. The “willing” sacrifice is a heartfelt expression of an intimate relationship with the God who rescued him from his pit and drew him, awestruck and humbled, to his knees. It’s the result of passionately pursuing the Lord God Almighty who first passionately pursued him – and us!
5) David responded when his worship revealed sin.
“To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. . . . Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day. . . . For Your name’s sake, O LORD, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great” (Psalm 25:1, 5, 11).
While remembering the goodness and faithfulness of his God in worship, David was sometimes led into a time of confession. He learned that an immediate, contrite response at the prompting of the Holy Spirit would be met with not only embracing forgiveness, but with invigorated intimacy in worship.
6) David learned to worship God in any situation.
“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You” (Psalm 63:1-3).
David wrote Psalm 63 when he was in the wilderness of Judah, probably after he fled Jerusalem at the time of Absalom’s rebellion (2 Samuel 15). Obviously, the place David is in at this point in his life isn’t all that great. God was protecting him, but He hadn’t changed his situation yet. David’s “life” was on the line, and he wasn’t in denial about that. Instead, He was living in the midst of the reality of who God was for him in that situation. And it led him to worship.
7) David ‘s honesty with God drew him into worship
“How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? . . . But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:1-2, 5-6).
Speaking of any situation – David knew that God could handle the expression of his painful emotions and that it would lead him to the truth. And to worship. God loves me. God is my salvation. God has dealt bountiful with me.
8) David expected his perspective to be changed during worship.
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained; What is man that You should take thought of him, and the son of man that You should care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).
As David beheld the indescribable glory of the Lord, he was struck by his own utter unworthiness in comparison. It was clearly a “You are God, and I am not” moment. We all need more of those.
9) David allowed his worship to usher him into prayer.
“You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You. Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; And give heed to the voice of my supplications!” (Psalm 86:5-6).
As David entered prayer during a time of great distress in Psalm 86, he wisely used it as a time to focus on God and worship. And as he put his need in perspective with who God is, the Holy Spirit prompted him to pray.
Our single focus in worship needs to be on our glorious God and not on our long list of requests. However, we need to be quick, like David, any time the Holy Spirit prompts us to respond to the God we’re exalting with a revealed need.
10) David was fully surrendered in his worship response to God.
“And so it was, that when the bearers of the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. And David was dancing before the LORD with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:13-14).
When David was invaded by the knowledge and love of God, then his natural, resulting worship was a bit more demonstrative than casual, distant viewers of God. For God is not a casual God! And David’s dancing was a beautiful act of worship to Him. (If you read a little further in 2 Samuel, not everyone thought so!)
I’m glad David was so prolific, and poetic, and real – aren’t you? It makes it so much easier to see and fall in love with our God!
This is obviously not an exhaustive list of things we could learn from David’s worship. (He’s given us a lot to study!) But I hope it’s enough to encourage us to worship with a heart like his that says,
“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!” (Psalm 57:7).
What do you appreciate most about David’s example as a worshiper?
What do the hard places of life find in me?
Struggle to worship? You may be thirsty!
Oh come, [do we] adore Him?
May we never lose our wonder
Why True Worship Requires Your Surrendered Heart
Do I have a growing appetite to worship God?
What should my surrender in worship look like?
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