“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts – the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah. My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!” (Psalm 57)
Have you noticed that David, the man after God’s own heart, the author of most of the chapters in the Psalter, who led all the worship processions and led all the choirmasters, and, yet, did so before the land of Israel had any permanent House of Worship? Why such an emphasis on worship without a permanent place for worship? It wasn’t until his son Solomon built the temple that the land would have a place to officially gather for worship.
And since then for thousands of years the church has met in a place – in a location. While there are a handful of churches without a meeting place, most churches have a building or tent to meet within. We gather to worship.
But too often we buy into the notion that we gather to worship and when we drive our cars out of the parking lot, we aren’t worshipping God any longer. This is simply not true. Every action – mundane or not – is an opportunity for worship (I Corinthians 10:31).
When we read Psalm 57, we come to see that David understood something we too often forget. David understood that a house was not essential for worship to take place. Why? Because the whole earth is filled with His glory).
In his book Let the Nations Be Glad, John Piper reminds us,
“Worship is not a gathering. It is not essentially a song service or sitting under preaching. Worship is not essentially any form of outward act. Worship is essentially an inner stirring of the heart to treasure God above all the treasures of the world – a valuing of God above all else that is valuable, a loving of God above all else that is lovely, a savoring of God above all else that is sweet, an admiring of God above all else that is admirable, a fearing of God above all else that is fearful, a respecting of God above all else that is respectable, a prizing of God above all else that is precious.”
Deep, powerful, God-centered worship is to take place everywhere we go because the whole earth is God’s sanctuary.
 John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions (Ada: Baker Book House, 2010), pgs. 206-207.
Do you read much church history?
If not, let me suggest that a good place to start is The Swans Are Not Silent Series, written by John Piper. The “swans are not silent” phrase comes from an event during the life of St. Augustine (A.D. 354-430). During a retirement party for St. Augustine, a close friend named Eraclius said, “The cricket chirps, the swan is silent.”
Eraclius was to be St. Augustine’s successor and the task of following this theological giant was the subject of that statement. Eraclius suggested himself to be a cricket and St. Augustine to be the silent swan.
However, as Piper suggests, the retirement of St. Augustine did not lead to doctrinal silence. The influence of St. Augustine has been tremendous throughout church history. And this book series, now five books in all, seeks to paint just a small picture of the significance of men and women throughout church history.
In each book, Piper celebrates a common truth in the lives of three individuals.
- Book One is entitled The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin.
- Book Two is entitled The Hidden Smile of God: the Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd.
- Book Three is entitled The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce.
- Book Four is entitled Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen.
- Book Five (the one I am currently reading) is entitled Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ: the Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, John Paton, and Adoniram Judson.
I cannot commend these works enough. Piper’s historical sketches of these saints are both devotional and provocative. You will learn about their backgrouunds, their contributions to the church and be inspired to emulate their character.
It would make a great Christmas present to any fellow believer.
“I still can’t believe that tabloids are in business; they are simply purveyors of gossip and rumor. When I glance over the magazine racks at the checkout line, I usually think, “Who cares?” And then I realize millions do. These trashy magazines are so successful because we love to hear other people’s “dirt” – their secrets, their problems, their embarrassing escapades. It’s this propensity that leads many to become gossip merchants themselves. People love being the ones who know stuff, especially private information about other people. It allows them to be the center of attention, if only for a moment.”
Zach Hunter, Chivalry: The Quest for a Personal Code of Honor In an Unjust World