How stirring these brief words are: “They sang praises with gladness” (2 Chr. 29:30). The Lord was being praised by His grateful people, and their singing was meaningful, sincere and joyful. Surely their experience long ago presents us with an example and a challenge as we think of our worship.
Neglect and disobedience had marked God’s people for 16 years under the reign of Ahaz. Idolatry had been practiced and God had found it necessary to humble His people because of their blatant sin (2 Chr. 28:19). The shameful reign of Ahaz ended without a royal burial, and a new king ascended the throne – Hezekiah, his son. It was not long before his true colors were seen.
In the first year of his reign Hezekiah opened the doors of the temple and re-established the true worship of God. The Levites rose to the challenge and sanctified themselves before cleansing the house of the Lord. Sixteen years of idolatry were thus followed by sixteen days of consecration (28:1; 29:17), the Levites working conscientiously and with determination. Sin offerings were brought by the people in recognition of their disobedience. Burnt offerings followed as an act of worship to the Lord, and then the praises of God began to ring through the temple courts.
The whole congregation worshiped, the singers proclaimed His praises to the accompaniment of trumpets, and Hezekiah and his courtiers bowed themselves in worship. At Hezekiah’s instruction psalms were sung by the Levites in praise to the Lord. Truly, it was a memorable occasion.
New Testament worship may be very different, but certain principles remain the same. Just as their praises followed repentance and sacrifice, we need true heart-repentance and an appreciation of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, whose blood was shed for our sins. This can prepare the way for our worship. Like the Israelites in Hezekiah’s day, we too can be helped by the words written by others. Songs that are scriptural should play an important part in our collective worship. However, beautiful words are not enough: we must, like the Israelites, sing with gladness to the Lord.
The Lord has done so much for us. Let us not be silent and unmoved, simply performing a kind of religious duty that lacks real feeling. May gladness characterize our worship as we also bow our heads in adoration before our God.
By Martin Girard
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org