Psalm 67: 3, 5 (NIV)
May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.
“Praise and Worship” tends to be a uniquely Christian thought – amongst Christians – but the reality is that all men everywhere engage in this activity on an almost daily basis. C.S. Lewis captured this well:
“Just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’ The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God as men are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.”
Who taught you to express how delicious a particular food is to you? Who recommended that you express your excitement when you got the present you so desired? Who instructed you to share with anyone that would listen those things which please you or excite you or bring great joy into your life? The irony of it is that just as we are all born with a sinful nature about us, so too are we born with a worshipful one. We really can’t help but sin…and we really can’t help but praise and worship. One side of the coin results from The Fall in the Garden, while the other side results from the Joy and Fellowship found in the very same place.
Most unbelievers, and some believers as well, tend to think of God’s demand for praise and worship as the demands of an egomaniac. “See how awesome I am? Now get on your knees and WORSHIP ME!” Would that same egomaniac then allow himself to be arrested, beaten, stripped, and nailed to a tree in order to purchase freedom for his captors? Of course not. C.S. Lewis got it right. God’s demand for praise is his demand for our highest happiness. We praise what we enjoy because the delight is incomplete until it is expressed in praise. If we were not allowed to speak about – to praise – that which we love and enjoy and admire, then our joy would not be full. God wants it to be full, therefore, He commands us to praise Him!
The English Puritan, Thomas Manton, captured this beautifully as an endless cycle of blessing, akin to the natural cycles found in the earth. “The more vapors go up, the more showers come down; as the rivers receive, so they pour out, and all run into the sea again. There is a constant circular course and recourse from the sea, unto the sea; so there is between God and us; the more we praise him, the more our blessings come down; and the more his blessings come down, the more we praise him again; so that we do not so much bless God as bless ourselves. When the springs lie low, we pour a little water into the pump, not to enrich the fountain, but to bring up more for ourselves.”
“May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.”