Saturday, November 18, 2006

Come Let Us Worship and Bow Down

Every now and then I come across a familiar chorus that isn’t bad per se, but is somehow just incomplete. And what right do I have to say that some choruses appear to be incomplete? Would the author of such songs agree with me over such an opinion? Well, in this case I think that I can say - “incomplete.” Take for example this familiar Maranatha chorus: Come Let us Worship and Bow Down -


Come Let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our God, our Maker

Come Let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our God, our Maker

For He is our God

And we are the people of His pasture

and the sheep of His hand

just the sheep of His hand


The incomplete nature of this song is made evident when we read Psalm 95:


Psalm 95: 1 O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. 3 For the Lord is a great God And a great King above all gods, 4 In whose hand are the depths of the earth, The peaks of the mountains are His also. 5 The sea is His, for it was He who made it, And His hands formed the dry land. 6 Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. 7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness, 9 "When your fathers tested Me, They tried Me, though they had seen My work. 10 "For forty years I loathed that generation, And said they are a people who err in their heart, And they do not know My ways. 11 "Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest."

I have highlighted the text upon which the aforementioned chorus is based, in order to reveal the textual contrast. Clearly, there is a vast context of thought that is utterly left behind in the popular Maranatha chorus. This is one of the reasons why I tend to avoid a great deal of modern choruses. It is not that they are always in error; they just tend to truncate too much truth. As in the case of Psalm 95, there is much more going on than the chorus reveals. Overall, the Psalm has a threefold structure, governed by two imperatives and one final warning. By the structure of the text itself, one could easily argue for three verses, rather than just one. The warning at the end is significant, though it is (perhaps) too alarming for the modern mind: it is a warning against unbelief as was evidenced by the ungrateful attitudes of those Israelites who grumbled against the Lord and tested Him. The threefold development is therefore very important:


1. A Call to THANKFUL EXULTATION (1-5).


2. A Call to HUMBLE WORSHIP (6-7a).


3. A Call to GENUINE REPENTANCE AND TRUST IN GOD (7b-11).


The relationship between these sections should be evident - genuine joy will consist of thankfulness (vs. 1-5); as well as humility (vs. 6-7a). Such attitudes as these reveal a heart that is truly seeking the Lord, unlike the selfish and prideful attitudes of those who fell and did not enter into God’s rest. This is more than a positive call to worship - it is also a great warning and call to self examination, contrition, repentance and to trust in the Lord who is the Creator of all things. Consider the following as a modification of the song (some hyphens are inserted for the reader’s understanding of the flow of the song):


Come Let us Worship and Bow Down (Psalm 95)


Verse 1

Come Let us sing for joy to God; For the LORD, He is the rock of our salvation

Come Let us sing for joy to God; Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving

For the Lord is a great God

All the world does rest upon His mighty hand

He's the King above all gods

Let us sing for joy to the Lord!


Verse 2*

Come Let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our God, our Maker

Come Let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our God, our Maker

For He is our God

And we are the people of His pasture

and the sheep of His hand

just the sheep of His hand


Verse 3

If you would hear His voice today; Do not har-den your hearts like those at Meribah

If you would hear His voice today; Do not test the Lord as in the day of Massah

For the Lord is a great God

All the world does rest up-on His mighty hand

Let us always trust in the Lord

Let us rest alone in our God


There are a number of songs that fit into this - “not bad; just suspiciously incomplete” category. In reality, there’s much more theology that can be added to these songs by the simple process of completing the thoughts that they began to express. By this process, many songs like these can be made even more useful in corporate worship contexts - rather than eliminated completely.


* Modified. Words derived from ©1980 Maranatha Praise, Inc. Words and Music by Dave Doherty.