Loving God's Greatness

Featuring Bob Kauflin Posted on April 21, 2010

Magnifying God's greatness begins with the proclamation of objective, biblical truths about God, but it ends with the expression of deep and holy affections toward God. We aren't simply reciting facts about God, like students reviewing their multiplication tables. God wants us to delight in him (Psalm 37:4). He is exalted when all our energies are directed to one end—being satisfied in whohe is. “The engagement of the heart in worship is the coming alive of the feelings and emotions and affections of the heart,” John Piper writes. “Where feelings for God are dead, worship is dead.”

Scripture repeatedly teaches and models the fact that truth about Godinvites a response. In fact, we're commanded to respond. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). “Love the Lord, all you his saints!” (Psalm 31:23). “Serve the Lord with gladness!” (Psalm 100:2).

The psalmists model numerous ways we can express our affections toward God to magnify his greatness, all of which can be reflected in our songs. I've summarized these ways as delight, commitment, yearning, and trust. 

It glorifies God when we delight in him, expressing the joy of knowing him and being known by him, as in Psalm 18:1: “I love you, O Lord, my strength.”Or in Psalm 34:8: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” Such expressions of delight point to God's worth. 

Committing ourselves to follow and serve God also honors him. “So I will bless you as long as I live” (Psalm 63:4). “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1). 

I've met Christians who feel dishonest or hypocritical when they singwords like “I'll always follow you,” “I will worship you alone,” or “I surrender all.”But expressions like these help us align our hearts with God's work in us through the gospel, especially as we're aware of our need for God's Spirit to carry out those commitments. That doesn't mean we sing song after songabout our commitment while living in unrepentant sin. With the cross in view,we can follow the counsel of Isaac Watts: 

We can never be too frequent or too solemn in the general surrender of oursouls to God and binding our souls by a vow to be the Lord's forever: to love him above all things, to fear him, to hope in him, to walk in his ways in a course of holy obedience, and to wait for his mercy unto eternal life. 

Yearning to know more of God also brings him glory. “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as ina dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1). “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to thel iving God” (Psalm 84:2).

Modern worship songs have made a significant contribution in this area.Some fault them for this very reason, deriding lyrics about wanting, desiring, needing, and being thirsty or desperate for God. Yet those phrases reflect the attitude of many Psalms, drawing attention to our need for God. We do need him! And saying so magnifies his greatness.

Lastly, we can express trust in God in times of trial, suffering, and discouragement. The Psalms deal with our condition in a fallen world. But inthe midst of troubles and persecution, the psalmist never forgets that God issovereign, God is faithful, and God alone can deliver.

Simply rehearsing our problems isn't worshiping God; recalling his character in the midst of them is. Asaph did that in his “day of . . . trouble” (Psalm 77:2): 

Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion? '(vv. 7-9) 

The apparent disconnect between Asaph's circumstances and what he knows to be true of God compels him to cast himself on his mercy. It should be the same for us. “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8). 

Magnifying God's greatness, then, involves proclamation and passion.Our responsibility as worship leaders is to make sure that in both ways—biblical truth and strong affections—people have every opportunity to magnifyand encounter our great and awesome God. 


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