How do you respond to something that went well? How about something big you just accomplished? I often take a big breath in relief or admire the awesome outcome or take a nap. It varies. But I generally want to admire the work and invite someone to come admire it with me. I’ll tell what I usually don’t do: break out in song. But the Israelites did when they finished rebuilding the wall in the book of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah 12:27 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps, and lyres.
“We just finished a huge construction project. Let’s have a praise party!” And a praise party they had. Rather than walking around the city and admiring their work, they got a band and a choir together and praised on it. They got their praise on! They did more than gather in the middle of the city and say a quick prayer of thanks. Literally, they walked around the entire wall and praised over it. Some of them even praised on the wall.
What’s remarkable to me was the decision to take the time to praise God. Even more, they praised Him for every square inch of their success. They had prayed to Him for the provision and safety of this project and now they were praising Him for it’s completion. We should be doing the same thing in our own lives. Has God come through for you? Praise Him. Has He answered your prayer? Praise Him. Start singing, grab some cymbals, lift your voice. Praise Him for what He has done. Give Him the credit. Rather than admire the work, admire the one who made that work happen.
Get your praise on, people!
Genesis 47:31b …and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
Confession: sometimes my body hurts for no reason whatsoever. I’m 39 years old – not sure how that crept up on me. My kids think I’m old. I think I’m young, and by most accounts I am. But some days I wake up and regardless of what my mind thinks, my body is pretty sure it is old. My shoulder hurts, my knee hurts, my back hurts. As my father-in-law says, “parts hurt.” My wife inquires as to what I did to strain these aching parts. “I slept” is my only logical explanation. Pretty pathetic, don’t you think?
I’ve got nothing on Israel, however. The guy was 147 years old when he died. His eyesight probably wasn’t all that good and most definitely, “parts hurt.” And as I read Genesis 47, there’s something remarkable that takes place with this 147 year old man. It’s a simple thing, so simple you might even miss it. But it’s also profound, so you can’t pass it up. It comes on the heels of a conversation with his son, Joseph. His heart is full like his life was. So he stood there leaning against his staff. Held up by a stick, he worshiped. There’s no lying around, no moping, no whining, no mention of aching body parts. Just an old man held up by a staff… worshiping.
Do we worship when our bodies are sore and our flesh is weak? Do we lay down, check out, and give up? Or do we stand in the strength that we have, hold ourselves up by a stick if necessary, and worship? There’s a story in Judges about a guy named Gideon. He was weak and afraid. But the angel of the Lord told him, “go in the strength that you have.” I can just see Israel on this day worshiping in the strength that he had. So like Israel, we have a choice to make. Will we worship in the strength that we have? Will we grab a stick if we need to and hold ourselves up, just so we can declare the greatness of God? I hope so. For that’s the kind of person I want to be.
*What inspires you about a 147 year old man worshiping?
Hosea 2:8 She does not recognize that it is I who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the oil. I lavished silver and gold on her, which they used for Baal.
Here’s the picture: A man loves his wife so much that he wants to show her. One payday, he hands her two $100 bills and tells her to spoil herself. He grins at the smile on her face as she receives his gift. He can’t wait to see what she is going to do and buy. But his wife doesn’t buy any new clothes; she doesn’t spoil herself with a day at the spa. Instead, she uses the money to go out on a date with another man. What!?!
This is how God felt about the nation of Israel. He treated her like a good husband would treat his wife. He lavished blessings on her, took care of her, and provided for her. It says here that He gave her grain, new wine, and oil. He even lavished silver and gold on her. However, she didn’t even acknowledge that all of this was from Him. She didn’t return to Him in praise. She took His gifts and ran away to another lover.
You see, Israel took what God had given them and used the resources to worship other gods. They took His gold and honored Baal. What a punch in the gut! Is this how you thank the very one who is meeting all your needs? It shouldn’t be! And even today, we receive God’s blessings and provision and squander them away. We turn to things that satisfy the flesh and in turn serve them with our hearts. We give over our devotion to created things rather than living a life devoted to the creator. If we would just learn a lesson from these words to Israel, we might just start turning all our worship toward the Lord. We might even stop punching Him in the gut.