The worship of the church is a joyful occasion. With joy and gladness in our hearts we hear the call to prayer. This has been true of the church of Christ since its beginning.
The Psalm we have before us was written by David during a time when his kingdom flourished. Often we read of those times when the Old Testament kingdom of Israel walked in the way of sin and the prophets had to come and warn her of coming destruction. This Psalm was written during a spiritually fruitful, flourishing, and happy time when the Old Testament church was at a high. There were long periods of time during which this was true of Israel, remember. During these times of spiritual strength, the saints rejoiced together as they made their way to the temple to worship God. Worship made them happy. It filled their hearts with the joy of salvation and communion with God. These were happy times for the families of Israel when parents and children as families made their way to the house of God to worship.
What was true of that day is also true of the church throughout the ages—including today. When the church flourishes spiritually, with God’s people walking in faith and doctrinal purity, there is much reason to rejoice in worship. When error is preached, the truth denied, and the church’s members walk in the sins of this world, worship becomes superfluous and empty. Members of the church attend only because of outward tradition and ceremony. But the joy of worship is gone.
What is it, fellow saints, that makes believers joyful in worship? What is it that draws God’s people to the house of God with willing hearts and teachable? It is the knowledge that when they go into God’s house, they meet with their God there. They are able to fellowship with Him there.
David writes of this in the passage of Scripture we consider today. We read in Psalm 65:4, “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.” It is amazing how the truth of God’s covenant pervades everything we do as God’s people. Without even realizing it, our lives and even our worship are all directed by the blessed fellowship we share with God in Jesus Christ.
I have not randomly or arbitrarily chosen this passage that speaks of the worship of the church. In it we are directed to the beauty, once again, of God’s covenant that He establishes with us and our children. Our worship is a covenantal worship. It is a worship that is shaped and molded by the fellowship of God’s covenant. We will find that even the individual elements of worship center in God’s covenant with us. Once again, therefore, we will consider God’s covenant, and now as it involves the worship of the church.
I. Dwelling in God’s House
The worship of which David speaks is, of course, the worship of the temple. He makes reference to the temple at the end of the verse we consider. There he calls it God’s holy temple. The temple was located at the top of the mountain on which Jerusalem was erected. The Old Testament saints would sing of going up unto God’s own house. David never lived to see that temple built. The temple of Solomon was large and spacious—a magnificent building. That literally is what the term “temple” means: large, spacious, and majestic. In fact, this Hebrew term can be used to refer to a palace. And such the temple was! It was God’s palace. It was the place where the high King of heaven and earth dwelt with His people. Figuratively speaking, He had His throne on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies.
This too is why David could speak of the temple as holy. The holy God dwelt there in all His beauty, majesty, honor, and glory. Further, this temple was holy because it was dedicated and consecrated to the worship of the Most High God. It was set apart for the holy service of God.
David also refers to the courts of that temple. The temple had many courts. But the reference here is probably to the inner court of the priests, that is, the court in which was found the altar of burnt offering. This is where the priests performed their services in sacrificing for the people and making intercession with God. It was through these sacrifices alone that men were able to approach unto God in fellowship. Finally, David refers to this temple as God’s house, the place of His abode. God inhabited the courts of the temple. This is where God had chosen to dwell among His people. It is true what Solomon said when dedicating the new temple, that the heavens neither the heaven of heavens could contain God. Nevertheless, God was present in the worship of His people in the temple. God’s people, believers, rejoiced in that. They would go to the temple to meet God. That was the joy of worship.
Now, this has much to teach us about our worship today. In John 4 we read of Jesus’ discussion with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well in Samaria. During the course of that conversation the woman asked Jesus where the proper place of worshiping God was. Jesus’ answer to her in verse 21 is telling: “Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.” Jesus explains that the day will come when the worship of the temple will no longer be necessary. Instead, as He further explains in verses 23, 24, wherever believers meet together in spirit and in truth to worship the Father, God will dwell with them there. This means that in the worship of the church today God dwells with His people in the same way He did with Israel of old. The only stipulation, of course, and this is an important one, is that they must worship Him in spirit, that is, not in outward formal worship but in one from the heart. And second, they must worship Him in truth, that is, according to the dictates of His Word and not according to the way man himself would determine to worship God.
But the point is, we more than definitely can take what Scripture teaches us here in Psalm 65 and apply it to the church today in her worship of Jehovah. When the church worships today, God’s saints are sitting in God’s house. No, I am not merely talking about a building. Where God’s people are gathered in spirit and truth God dwells in their midst. God dwells in His church as that church worships Him—even if they meet in a barn or cave. When the church meets in proper worship, where she meets is beautiful and fair. It is majestic and holy. Why? Because God dwells there! He is beautiful in His grace and holy in His ways.
But not only does God dwell there. So do God’s chosen ones. Notice the first part of the verse we are studying: “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest and causeth to approach unto thee.” God’s chosen ones gather to worship Him. Only those whom God has distinctly chosen for His own does God gather into His house to worship Him. He draws them there. Those whom God chose as His own from eternity, His elect, God causes to approach unto Him. He so works in their hearts by His Holy Spirit that He draws them to His house to worship Him. This does not mean they are like drones that go everywhere the person operating the controls moves them. God’s people are not drones. God works in the hearts of His people by His Spirit. He works in them by means of their salvation a delight in dwelling with God. He works in them a joy to walk in covenant communion with God. In other words, God causes them to approach unto Him in His house because they love God and seek Him out. They want to approach unto God!
They do not see attending the worship of the church as something they are forced to do. They do not view the worship of God as some vain tradition of some old-fashioned church that is stuck in its traditions. When there is a call to prayer, God’s people rejoice. They delight in being able to come into God’s house and bow before Him there. Coming to God’s house is not being forced to attend some family function that we would rather not attend so we get there late and leave as soon as possible. God is in His holy temple. We hurry there. We do not wish to miss one moment of worship. God has chosen His people and saved them unto that end—the worship of His name in His house. There we experience the fellowship of God’s covenant to the highest degree, as we will find.
Oh, we realize that there are those who attend the worship who have no true desire to be there. They find the worship in God’s house a bore, something they must bear with for an hour or more before being set free. Not all who come into God’s house are God’s chosen ones. There certainly are those who see worship only as a vain tradition and see nothing spiritual at all about coming into God’s house. They come when they want, their attendance is sporadic, because going to church is no more profitable to them than sitting in an opera or going to a ballet. Especially is this true when they could be attending something that to them is much more exciting, like a football game or a basketball game. The place of their worship is in these stadiums or in the bars with the big screen TV or in their homes watching the game instead of attending church. What the Word of God teaches us here is true only of those who are redeemed: God causes them to approach unto Him in delight and joy in His house.
Ah yes, redemption. Out of thankfulness for salvation from sin, God’s people come to God’s house. Our sins prevail against us. We fight them every day. Each sin is a transgression of God’s law. We would be guilty before God and worthy of eternal alienation from God’s presence on account of our sins, if it were not for the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. Through the blood of Christ God has purged away our sin. Christ paid the price of sin. We who are so unworthy of a place in God’s covenant, Christ has made worthy. He took away our sin and shame. He reconciled us unto God through His blood. Now we who sin are seen in Christ’s blood as innocent of sin. And God accepts us into His covenant love and fellowship. We share in that.
Christ has done that for His chosen ones, dear listener! What is the response of a believing heart? We desire to fellowship with God in His house. When we hear the call to prayer, we do not resist it. We do not view it as unnecessary. We long for it. There is nothing better than to dwell in covenant communion with God in His house. You talk about the necessity of attending God’s house? It is found in our very salvation from sin. We desire to go to God’s house in order to meet with Him there. Sometimes we can take a rather lackadaisical attitude about worship. We need to see it in the way God’s Word before us views it: “blessed is the man whom God chooses and causes to approach unto Him.”
II. Satisfied with Its Goodness
When God’s people come with hearts of thankfulness and joy into God’s presence, they will be satisfied with the goodness of God’s house. The goodness of God’s house is found in the wealth and beauty of it. The term “goodness” in the first instance means wealth. I think of those people who spend a lifetime diving in the oceans and lakes in order to discover some sunken ship carrying a treasure chest of gold. When they finally discover just that kind of ship and open that treasure chest they are filled with cheer and gladness. That explains the word goodness for us.
God’s house is filled with goodness, wealth—spiritual wealth. Now, that was literally true of the temple in Jerusalem. It was filled with gold and silver and precious tapestries and carvings. Yet, it is not really that earthly wealth that David speaks of here.
When we walk into the doors of God’s house in order to worship Him according to His Word, we find a spiritual wealth beyond compare. That wealth centers in and focuses our attention upon God Himself and Jesus Christ. When in the house of God, we dwell with God! Wherever two or three are gathered in His name, God is in their midst. Oh, we do not see God. We do not even see something like the nation of Israel did when they saw the glory of God settle into the Holy of Holies. We look around when we sit in church and it does not seem all that real that God is there among His people. Where is He? He is there by His Spirit and grace. Just as we know when a powerful wind is present by what it does, so also the Spirit. As soon as the minister climbs the pulpit and stands with the Word of God in His hand, as soon as the elders and deacons walk in and find their seats in the church, God is present by His Spirit. Just as God showed Himself present in the temple so very really, the Spirit is present in church. God enters the sanctuary! When He enters into the midst of the church that worships Him in spirit and in truth, God’s people enter into intimate covenant communion with Him by means of their worship.
And that goodness of our God, the wealth He leaves us by dwelling with us here in love and grace, is beyond price. This is why we are satisfied with the goodness of God’s house. We are filled by His presence. We dwell quietly and at peace with our God, and He fills our souls with His presence and Word.
What a beautiful way to view going to church. It is but a foretaste of the fellowship we are going to share with God in heaven. Certainly, if we do not like going to church, we will not like heaven. The limited, finite fellowship we share with God in His house on earth is an appetizer to the fellowship we will share in heaven. Then, then, we shall be satisfied! We are satiated with God’s love and favor here in His house. Hmmm—never thought of worship in that way, huh?
What are the gold pieces we will find in the treasure chest of God’s house? The finest piece of gold is the faithful preaching of the Word. It is so because through the faithful exposition of God’s Word we hear God speak to us. Covenant communion takes conversation. Well, God speaks to us through the preaching. I know, we hear the voice of our good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, through the preaching. But Christ, after all, is God. So God communicates to His children through the preaching. Worship is covenantal in character. God fellowships with us in His house by speaking to us—instructing us, admonishing us, comforting us, and encouraging us.
We as His dear children sit at the feet of our Father and quietly listen to Him, without rudely interrupting Him when He speaks. As children we are seen and not heard. Our worship is not meant to draw attention to ourselves. We look for the wealth of God’s Word to satisfy us. So this is the most important gold piece of God’s house.
But our worship is communion with God. That means we speak with Him too. This is the purpose of other acts of worship. Worship includes singing because, when filled with the presence of God, we respond by singing His praises. Likewise, we communicate with God through prayer. Our prayers are raised before God, giving Him praise, thanks, but also making our needs known unto Him. Even our act of giving is a part of the believer’s response to fellowship with God. We pay our vows by giving to the cause of God’s kingdom in this world.
So every aspect of our worship centers in God’s covenant with His people. Everything we do in worship is meant to contribute to a sense of fellowship with the ever blessed Father in heaven. What depth and beauty we can find in the Word of God we have before us today! What a wonderful way to view the worship of Christ’s church. No wonder David and we of like faith with Him can sing this: “my heart was glad to hear the welcome sound, the call to seek Jehovah’s house of prayer.” There is no better place on earth or in our lives than to be in God’s house in humble adoration of God our Father who draws us to Himself here.
III. The Blessedness of That Person
No wonder David writes here in our text, “Blessed is the man whom God causes to approach Him.” Blessed, happy, is that man who worships in God’s house. Those who frequent the house of God are a blessed people. We are made to taste and see that God is good. Every Sunday we can rest from our earthly toil and labors and come to rest in God’s house. We can commune with our God and Father. We can experience all of God’s covenant blessings. May all of us view worship in that way: through spiritual eyes. Let us understand what God has done for His chosen ones by causing them to approach unto Him. Then the Lord’s Day will hold a special blessing for us—a precious blessing. I’m convinced that the reason so many are unchurched today is that they fail to see the blessedness of God’s house. Maybe it is because the leaders of such churches give stones for bread and scorpions for fish. May that not be true of Christ’s church in her worship.
Let us together joy in our salvation. Let us joy in our fellowship with God. Let us sing in that joy. And, fellow believers, let us carry that joy with us into the week to come.