Introduction: Most congregations in the United States have
one hundred members or less. That is true for my current
church. While small churches have some advantages, a major
disadvantage is in the area of worship. Several times in my
life I have been in large groups singing praises to God. The
power of so many voices is a wonderful experience which
provides a feeling of great joy! This gives me a hint of
what worship will be like in heaven. Is there any reason why
small church worship lacks joy? I feel joy during worship in
my small church. It is the power of many voices that is
missing. Is anything else missing? Should we be careful not
to confuse sound with faith? Let’s plunge into our study of
Psalms to learn more about worship now and in heaven!

I. Animated Praise

A. Read Psalm 134:1. What does it mean that they are
praising at night? (Activity was going on in the
temple at night. Leviticus 6:9 refers to the
offering burning at night and 1 Chronicles 9:33
tells us that singers were on duty in the temple
at night. Psalms 134:1 refers to “all you
servants,” so it refers to regular worshipers. I
think the point is that these are diligent
followers of God.)

B. Read Psalm 134:2. It gives me joy to raise my
hands while singing praises, but no one ever did
that in church when I was growing up. Even when I
was the Lay Pastor of my local church I received
the complaint that we should not be getting
“Pentecostal.” Do members raise their hands in
praise in your church?

1. Do you think that raising your hands is
improper? Does it make you think of Nazi

C. Read Psalm 63:4, Lamentations 3:41, Psalm 141:2,
and 1 Timothy 2:8 on the topic of raising our
hands when we praise or pray to God. How do you
understand these texts? (There are several
references in the Bible to raising our hands.)

D. Read Psalm 134:2-3. Does this suggest that if we
lift our hands to bless God that He will bless us

E. In an interesting TED Talk on making confident
presentations, the presenter said that before she
walked on the stage she would lift both her hands
in the air. (She looked like the letter “Y” when
she did it.) That action, she asserted, gave her
confidence. I did not think this benefit from
raising hands was a coincidence – even thought she
was not praising God. What do you think? (I
believe that the God who created us “engineered”
in us some automatic blessings. Raising your hands
in prayer or praise is one of those engineered
methods of creating confidence and trust.)

1. In case you are wondering what kind of crazy
idea that is, ask yourself why placebos in
drug tests do so well? (Placebos contain no
medicine, yet they often get very positive
results. I suggest that God has engineered
into us a faith response.)

F. Read Psalm 98:4-8. Another aspect of worship that
was frowned on when I was young was clapping in
church and exuberant singing. Are only rivers
allowed to clap?

1. Should clapping in church only be allowed for
God as opposed to a human?

2. Did you notice that these verses use the term
“noise” twice and mention the “roar” of the
sea. Should these references to loud noises
guide our thinking on worship, or is this part
of the statement accidental or irrelevant to
our praise? (The underlying Hebrew word for
“noise” here means “split the ear.” I think
this reference is relevant to our worship.)

G. Read Psalm 149:3 and Psalm 150:3-6. Drums were
another excluded instrument for worship in my
church when I was young. What does this suggest
about drums as part of our praise to God? (These
texts include tambourines (a type of drum) and
cymbals, which are a percussion instrument.)

1. When you consider the statements about holding
up hands in praise, ear-splitting noise in
connection with praise, and the use of drums
and cymbals for praise, what should we
conclude? Can we say that this is a
“cultural” choice and the Hebrews were a
noisy, animated culture?

a. Put this into another context. Some
cultures show love by kissing, hugging,
and excited statements. Other cultures
show no physical affection. Do you think
these different approaches affect the
amount of the love? (I believe this has
an impact on the level of love. I think
very stilted worship causes us to miss
important aspects of praise. But I also
know that this is a hotly debated

II. Those Accepted

A. Read Psalm 15:1. What do you think is meant by
“holy hill?” (This is an immediate reference to
the temple in Jerusalem, but ultimately a
reference to the New Jerusalem in the earth made

B. Read Psalm 15:2-5. Are you worthy to live in the
New Jerusalem?

C. Read Psalm 24:3-6. Notice two things about these
verses. First, this describes those who enter
(shall ascend the hill) and are able to stay
(“shall stand”) in the New Jerusalem. Does this
describe you?

1. One of the criticisms of animated praise is
that it reflects a congregation that is not
serious about walking with God. Not serious
about true worship. What do you think?

2. Look at the timing of verse 5. It says those
who qualify (see verse 4) “will receive …
righteousness from the God of his salvation.”
This tells me that I must qualify for my
righteousness by having clean hands and a pure
heart. Do you agree that is what it says?

a. Do you qualify?

b. I read a comment about these texts that
said, “this is not about earning God’s
favor but avoiding the things that would
separate us from God.” How I wish that
were true. But that comment has no
logical connection to what we just read.
Other commentators cite these texts and
conclude that being “clean” and “pure” is
not possible, thus the verses do not mean
what they say. What do you think?

D. Read Jeremiah 17:9-10. Does this describe the
condition of all hearts?

1. If so, does this mean that we are all lost?

E. Read Jeremiah 17:14. For what does Jeremiah seek?
(Healing by God! His cure for his terribly unclean
heart is God.)

F. Read Isaiah 53:5-6. Think about the temple in
Jerusalem. What allowed humans to be purified?
(They would bring an animal sacrifice. The people
did not claim perfection.)

1. How does this text suggest that we can enter
the New Jerusalem?

G. Read Psalm 51:1-2 and Psalm 51:10. Who gives King
David a clean heart?

H. Read Colossians 2:13-14. Who gives us a clean

I. Let’s talk about this a minute. Psalms 15 and 24
say that we need to be perfect to enter into
heaven. Isaiah 53, Psalm 51, and Colossians 2 tell
us that God gives us that perfect heart. It is not
about our works or our efforts to clean our heart.
Why, then, do Psalms 15 and 24 say what they do?

J. Read 2 Corinthians 3:18. How are we saved? (We are
saved by grace alone. It is a gift of God.)

K. Read 1 John 3:4-9. How would you put this teaching
into your own words? At some point are we expected
to stop sinning? (While we are saved by grace
alone, God expects us to change. That change comes
from the working of the Holy Spirit. This is where
I would insert the sentiment from the quote about
avoiding the things that would separate us from
God. The teaching is not that we reach perfection
or stop sinning due to our efforts. The point is
that we must choose God and not Satan. We must
live a life that avoids sin and abides in Jesus.)

1. Given our examination of all of these texts
following Psalms 15 and 24. What is the
attitude of those who ascend to the New
Jerusalem? (They credit God with their clean
hearts and hands. Clean hearts and hands is
the desire of their life. It is their goal.)

2. How would the understanding that God gave you
eternal life, you did not earn it, affect your
praises to God? (If we think we are
responsible, then our praise would naturally
be muted. But if we believe that we have been
given an eternal life that we did not deserve,
that is something to be really excited about!)

L. Friend, if you are saved by grace, but your
desires are not aligned with God’s will, will you
ask the Holy Spirit to aid you in changing your
attitude? Why not do that right now?

III. Next week: Wait on the Lord.

Copr. 2024, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are
from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard
Version ), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All
rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within
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but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this
link: Pray for the guidance of the
Holy Spirit as you study.