Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness
The Apostle Peter calls the church a holy priesthood, consecrated “to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). This priestly identity and service is manifest in the ministry of music and singing, which is why the author of Hebrews exhorts, “through [Jesus] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15). The precursor and pattern of this priestly ministry is found in 1 Chronicles 16, where we read that David ordained some of the Levites “to invoke, to thank, and to praise the LORD...that thanksgiving be sung to the Lord” (1 Chron 16:4, 7). These priests were ordained to minister regularly before the LORD with music and song.
Singing is a priestly ministry. As a holy priesthood, every believer is called to the ministry of music and song. The ordination of Levitical musicians and singers in 1 Chronicles 16:1-7 is followed by David’s song of praise and thanksgiving in verses 8-36. The song is a medley of various Psalms and is representative of Israel’s praise and thanksgiving. The form and content provides a pattern for the church’s praise and thanksgiving. David begins with a call to thanks and praise:
Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! (vv.8-10)
The call to praise and thanksgiving is also a call to announce and testify to God’s wondrous works. As a worshipping people, we are also a witnessing people.
David continues with a call to seek the LORD:
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles and the judgments he uttered. (vv.11-12)
We seek the LORD when we sing to the LORD. Sacred music makes us attentive to his presence and calls on us to remember his wondrous works – and his covenant word:
Remember his covenant forever,
the word that he commanded,
for a thousand generations. (v.15)
We remember what we sing, so we sing Scripture and remember the word he commanded. Singing confirms his covenant word in us and confirms us in his covenant word.
Towards the end of David’s song of praise andthanksgiving, he turns to polemic:
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
and he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens. (vv.25-26)
Church music and singing is not only evangelistic, declaring the wondrous works of God, it is prophetic, exposing the vanity and worthlessness of idolatry. In contrast to the emptiness and ugliness of idols, David declares:
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and joy are in his place. (v.27)
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. (v.29)
Idols are worthless, but the LORD is worthy of praise. When we gather together to worship on Sunday mornings, we enter his splendor, majesty, strength, and joy. We worship him in the “splendor [or beauty] of holiness.” Holiness is beautiful. Singing before the LORD is a holy service and a sanctifying ministry. Worshipping the LORD in the beauty of holiness makes us beautiful. Let us worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness and through Jesus, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God (Hebrews 13:15).