The Journey of Worship
In ancient days, the people of Israel would journey to the temple at Jerusalem to worship the Lord during certain yearly festivals. As they travelled up and through mountains, they sang what are called songs of ascent. These songs recorded in Psalms 120-134 were songs reminding the people of God’s grace, mercy, provision, protection, and salvation. Some of them pointed to Yahweh as their source of strength in troubled times (Psalm 121), and others were spotted with historical accounts of God’s rescue (Psalm 126). There are verses of surrender, pleas for deliverance, and condemnation of their own sin.
Our places of worship are generally only 10-20 minutes from home. But we can still learn from this age-old practice. The life of the Christian is a journey, one with ups and downs. Sometimes the road is easy. Other times it’s not. If you live long enough, you will eventually come face to face with your own weakness. The trials this broken world has to offer, whether internal or external, tend to bring us to terms with our own frailty and vulnerability. But scripture teaches us that isn’t a bad thing! It’s the humility God desires in Psalm 51:17. It’s a proper view of our place compared to God’s and our need for help. And it is in those moments of realization when we remind ourselves of the attributes of God, when we cling to the truths he has given.
While we wrap our minds around a medical diagnosis, we sing of His sovereignty (135:5-7). When we feel unworthy, we press into His guidance (131). We celebrate the gift of his forgiveness as we fail to reach righteousness (130:4), and in the midst of persecution, we solidify our courage in His strength (125). From the lowest valley of despair, we face upward, pleading for help (123), and trusting it will come.
True worship starts from a low place, knowing our Father carries us upward as we fix our eyes on Him. And as we go, with every step, we remind ourselves of the end of our journey. We dwell on the goal: worshiping the one true God
Music for the Moment
Here’s a great song written to the theme of songs of ascent. Listen, dwell, and be encouraged in your walk with the Lord!
“Whatever I walk through, wherever I am
Your name can move mountains wherever I stand
And if ever I walk through the valley of death
I’ll sing through the shadows my song of ascent”
-Highlands (Song of Ascent) by Hillsong United