THE KIRK OF KILDAIRE PRESBYTERIAN
A sermon preached by
Joseph Welker, Jr.
David’s Worship Service
1 Chronicles 15:25-16:10
August 5, 2007
|These notes are intended for distribution to members and friends of the Kirk|
of Kildaire, Presbyterian family. While effort is made to give credit for work
done by other, the notes may use material for which appropriate credit is not
given. Also, the notes may differ from the actual sermon as it was delivered.
Remember, sermons are meant to be preached and are therefore prepared with the
emphasis on verbal presentation; the written accounts occasionally stray from
proper grammar and punctuation.
When you think of David, the greatest king of Israel… what comes to mind? For
me the first image that comes to mind is a picture in my childhood bible of the
boy David slaying the giant Goliath with his slingshot. The victory of the
underdog with the help of God. I learned he was a skillful shepherd. As I grew
up, I learned more about David. He was a great military general and sometimes
insurgent who God blessed with victory after victory against incredible odds. I
learned he was the writer of many of the Psalms we still enjoy and sing. I love
the story of a spiritually and mentally tormented King Saul asking David to come
and play his harp to soothe Saul’s soul. I also learned there was a darker side
to our heroic ancestor David-his affair with Bathesheba-leading to the carefully
arranged murder of her husband Uriah. I learned that David had feet of clay like
the rest of us. But God loved him. But what I never really thought about until
recently is how David loved worship. David not only wrote psalms to be sung… but
David loved to organize the liturgy and craft the service to worship God.
The writer of Chronicles thinks of David this way. He sees that when David
takes charge of Jerusalem, his first act will be to organize the people for
worship. He will bring the ark of the covenant-that sacred chest – containing
the 10 commandments and representing the divine presence-that ark that had led
their ancestors through the wilderness to the promised land… the ark that was
captured and then returned by their enemies-the Philistines-David will bring
that sacred ark to a sacred tent in Jerusalam… so that God may be worshipped and
praised there. Then David will appoint the liturgical leaders… the musicians…
and appoint a director of music to lead the worship procession which as you can
see, though well planned and prepared… is very interesting when you imagine what
it actually looked like and sounded like.
Think about it. There was no organ to lead worship but there were plenty of
instruments. Horns… trumpets… harps… stringed instruments… cymbals. Can you
imagine cymbals here every Sunday morning?
It reminds me of the Psalm 150 group this morning. All they need are some
trumpets and horns to complete the worship band.
No bulletins in David’s worship service by the way… the technology had not
It reminds me of the worship I experienced at Montreat a couple of weeks ago
at the youth conference… the musical leader played his guitar… the youth were
singing and clapping and harmonizing to words on a screen and I tell you, David
would have been very much at home there worshipping God…. as we sang, "Come, now
is the time to worship…"
Today, we celebrate during our worship that this particular way of praising
God is grounded in our scripture… grounded in our tradition that goes back about
3000 years… so next time Psalm 150 comes out-I’m here to tell you that it is not
a contemporary group— and don’t let them tell you they are leading
contemporary music- they are about as old as it gets. They are as old as rocks.
They precede the organ as the chosen instruments for praise for the church. The
organ is the contemporary instrument around here.
This gets one to wonder… or at least question our assumptions about which
music and liturgy is appropriate for worship. I’m guessing most of our judgments
about worship are rooted in the kind of worship we experienced as a child. I
grew up on the organ and assumed it was the instrument God had personally chosen
for worship– although there was the time our youth choir sang a musical in
worship with a drum set, electric guitar-the whole works. I’m here to tell you,
the old gothic church didn’t fall down.
What is interesting to me is that our actual church history appears to be
more flexible than we are sometimes.
I’ve found myself enjoying the thoughts of John Bell-a minister and musician
from the Church of Scotland and a leader in liturgical renewal. He was asked how
he dealt with the tension between singing the traditional songs and singing the
He said:"On the one hand you have antique collectors who believe that nothing
written after Bach is worth bothering about. And on the other hand you have
people who are suspicious of anything not created in the past three or four
years. That kind of polarity divides the church according to aesthetic taste,
and the church has never meant to be divided on that basis. It’s important to
recognize that the church has always had different kinds of music. For the past
400 years church music has been shaped by the organ. Now, I love the organ; it’s
my favorite instrument. But when the monks sang plainchant, they weren’t using
the organ. When people set music to folk tunes as Luther did after the
Reformation, they weren’t primarily thinking of organ music. When Ira Sankey
wrote gospel music in 19th century America, he didn’t have the organ in mind.
But in parts of the church there has been a subconscious effort to try to make
everything sound the same, with a resulting loss of integrity. Since the 1950s,
people have been writing music for accompaniment on the guitar. They sometimes
say: this is the way all church music should be. Such a stance is as arrogant
about the dominance of the guitar as others are about the organ."
I think David the worship leader and lover of music would agree with John
Bell. What if David had said to his Director of Music– you can use only
strings- no trumpets and horns…-no cymbals-they are too noisy. No dancing or
movement either. Imagine how limiting that would have been for those trying to
lead the people in praising God. Why would you praise and worship God with only
a few of the instruments and a few of the gifts God has given us?
The point after all is that we worship God with not just your head, but with
your heart. The CEV version of the Psalm David leads the people in singing says
"Praise the Lord and pray in his name!
Tell everyone what he
Sing praises to the Lord! Tell about his miracles.
worship his holy name with all your heart."
With all your heart. John Wesley, the Methodist minister and musician – would
agree. When teaching people to sing he said, "Sing lustily and with good
courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead or half asleep; but lift up
your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed
of its being heard than when you sung the songs of Satan."
I’m not sure what the songs of Satan are… but can I say this, isn’t it a sad
thing that many can sing our favorite songs on the radio, CD or mp3 player… or
can heartily sing our songs of praise to our favorite sports team (War Eagle fly
down the field)… but when it comes to worshipping the Lord God Almighty maker of
heaven and earth… many often hesitate to lift voices in praise?
It would be enough to make David wonder what our worship is about. Because
for David and for us, worship is about giving God his due. What is owed to our
God. Our love and praise and honor. To worship God is to serve God with heart,
mind, soul and strength.
Even an old Scottish Presbyterian from the 16th century, William Kethe said
as much in a line from a beloved old hymn we sometimes sing, "All people that
on earth do dwell, sing to the Lord with cheerful voice, him serve with mirth
(hilarity, delight, glee!) his praise forth tell, come ye before him and
Frederick Buechner picked up on this in something he said about worship. He
says that to Worship God means to serve God. Basically there are two ways to do
it. One way is to do things for God that the Lord needs to have done-run errands
for him, carry messages for him, fight on his side, feed his lambs, and so on.
The other way is to do things for God that you need to do-sing songs for the
Lord, tell God what’s on your mind and in your heart, in general rejoice in God
and make a fool of yourself for God the way lovers have always made fools of
themselves for the one they love. A Quaker meeting, a Pontifical High Mass, the
Family service at First Presbyterian, a Holy Roller Happening-unless there is an
element of joy and foolishness in the proceedings, the time would be better
spent doing something useful." 
David-the singer… the dancer… the composer… the liturgist, I think would
agree… because what is worship for if not to tell our God how much we love god…
and to experience through God’s word-read, preached and sung-how much we are
loved … and how we can praise God with the whole of our lives.
The kids at Montreat had it right the night I heard them begin their worship
with the song:
Come, now is the time to worship
Come, now is the time
to give your heart
Come, just as you are to worship
Come, just as you are
before your God
(Words and Music by Brian Doerksen)
Wishful Thinking; p 97