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Posted by on Sep 24, 2014 in Faith | 0 comments

Simplicity and Rest in Preparation for Worship

Simplicity and Rest in Preparation for Worship

Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt into the Sinai desert. They were free from a tyrannical monarch and came under God’s rule. When God gave the Law, He commanded His people to appear at “the house of the Lord” to corporately acknowledge Him three times a year. In Exodus 23:14-19 Israelites are told to observe three festivals in His honor. Men, in particular, are to make a point of being present on these three occasions. Of course, families accompanied the men.

Fast forward hundreds of years, and the people were spread out in the Land of Promise.   The faithful would make the pilgrimages three times a year up to the place of God’s presence in Jerusalem.   These journeys were sometimes long and arduous; yet, the anticipation of the festive celebrations that awaited them in Jerusalem motivated them along the way. If we could listen to them as they drew closer to the festival we might be surprised to hear them singing some familiar words and phrases. The book of Psalms records some of these songs. The “Songs of Ascent – Psalms 120-134 … were chanted or sung by religious pilgrims as they made their way up to Jerusalem during the three major religious festivals.[1]

I don’t know about you but when I get ready to take a trip with my family it’s quite an ordeal. Each year I take a pilgrimage from Oklahoma to south Florida to visit my wife’s side of the family. It’s quite a stressful thing for us to traverse over 1,400 miles with three dogs, four kids and a bearded dragon lizard. By the time we actually near our destination, I can assure you we’re ready to rest.

Psalm 131, one of the Songs of Ascent, is a call to rest for weary pilgrims. There is no doubt this psalm is meant to prepare worshippers for coming into the presence of the Almighty.

Psalm 131

A Davidic song of ascents

Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty.

I do not get involved with things too great or too difficult for me.

Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself like a little weaned child with its mother;

I am like a little child.

 Israel, put your hope in the Lord, both now and forever. [2]

Our minds may swim with deep thoughts and race with the concerns of life; however, sometimes it’s good to simply carve out some space for lightheartedness and rest. Sometimes it’s good to become humble and quiet like a little child resting in the presence of his mother – childishly daydreaming. Perhaps in the presence of the Almighty, this is a good posture to have. Maybe this childlike spirit of hope is a necessary preparation for true worship. What do you think?

[1] IVP Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Old Testament, pg.518

[2] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. 2009 (Ps 131). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.

About The Author

James Hunt
James Hunt

James serves as the Senior Pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Guthrie, OK. He loves serving Jesus by serving God's people. He also enjoys spending time with his wife of over 20 years as well as his four children. You'll find him just as comfortable in the office deep in thought as he is at a rodeo. He likes boots, jeans, and state park trips with the family. His dream car is actually a 1968 truck. His favorite bicycle is one with a big motor. Of course, he has neither a motorcycle nor an old truck. But a guy can dream, right?

James Hunt has blogged 53 posts at wordslingersok.com

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