The Nature of True Worship -- By: William J. McRae

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 006:2 (Winter 1997)
Article: The Nature of True Worship
Author: William J. McRae

The Nature of True Worship

William J. McRae1

An Exposition of Exodus 15:1–21


A number of years ago Donald Grey Barnhouse traveled through Texas on a preaching tour. As he was leaving Beaumont, he saw a large sign along the highway calling upon people to acknowledge God. It read, “Go and worship God in the church of your own choice.” Just then he pulled to a stop in front of a red light. Another car drew alongside. A child in that car read the same sign, then said, “Daddy, what does worship mean?” The father replied, “It means to go to church and listen to the preacher preach.”

Could there be a more horrible definition? Yet that is the sum total of worship to millions of Americans today. If your child were to ask you that question, how would you answer it? What does worship mean?

Three salient elements of genuine worship emerge from the Song of Redemption in Exodus 15. First, worship acknowledges the worth of God. Second, worship may be expressed in music. Third, worship is reserved for the redeemed.

Worship Acknowledges the Worth of God

Six or seven hundred years ago the word worship was pronounced “worth-ship.”

C. H. Mackintosh somewhere says worship “is simply telling out, in the presence of God, what He is, and what He has done. It is the heart occupied with and delighting in God and in all His marvelous actings and ways.”

This is precisely what the sons of Israel did and were in Exodus 15. In this Song of Redemption they acknowledged the worth that is in their God. The entire song is summed up in the one phrase of verse 2, “I will extol Him.” The

word Lord (Yahweh) occurs no less than twelve times in the first eighteen verses. The pronouns He, Him, Thy, Thou, and Thee are found thirty-three times. How significant! They sang not only unto the Lord but about the Lord. He was the theme of their song. Beyond the blessings they saw the Blesser, and in His presence they declared His worth. That is worship.

This is a Hebrew hymn which gives us a glimpse of true biblical worship.

The Introduction to the Song, 15:1

Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and said, “I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted; The horse and its rider He has hurl...

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