|In the Midst of His People|
Psalm 76:1, 2
The Story: The essence of God’s covenant relationship with Israel is summarized in the phrase, “I will be your God, and you will be My people.” Asaph begins his psalm with language that embellishes that covenant motto with some deeper significance. The nature of Israel’s relationship with God is one of love, honor, and presence. “God is known” in Israel; that is, He is loved by those who truly know Him. Whereas pagan gods were not loved but, typically, placated merely, God is infinitely personal and loving toward His people, who love Him in return. His “name is great” among His people. They honor and worship God because they recognize how much He has done for them and how He continues to meet their daily needs. And God’s presence “has been established” in peace (“Salem”), so that the people who know their God do not dread Him, but bask in the security He brings by having established His dwelling place in their midst. The sense of these two opening verses is that knowing God and honoring Him bring peace to all those who cherish His presence. These are the ideas Jesus had in mind when, before His ascension, He promised His disciples, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20). One of the purposes of worship is to reinforce the covenant idea, “I will be your God, and you will be My people.”
The Structure: Worship is, in the first place, a celebration of the presence of God with His people, and of the many good gifts He bestows upon them. Worship should renew and reinforce the ideas of knowing, honoring, and walking with God. In order to do this, God must be the focus and centerpiece of our worship, as we see in all the psalms. Certainly there is a place for the people of God to consider their needs and interests. But these must be properly framed. These two verses are a chiasmus, that is, read together they form an “X”, the top left and bottom right, as it were, expressing the same idea: “Judah” and “Zion.” The top right and bottom left – the “middle” of the “X” – where the focus is on God, illustrate the presence of God “within” His people, where His love, greatness, and provision make them who they are.It’s a delicate balance keeping our needs and God’s greatness in focus during morning worship. How does your church’s order of worship, and the content of it, accomplish this important task?
For more insight on reading the Psalms, get the book, How to Read the Psalms, by Tremper Longman III.
The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.