PSALM 22:25: “My praise comes from you while I am among those assembled for worship. I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who fear the LORD.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: Do I have to go to church to worship? I have been asked this question many times over the years. Some have said, “I worship God when I am in the mountains, this is where I feel closest to the Lord!” Others say they can worship God alone, during their morning run, walking along the shoreline, or while playing a round of golf. So if this is true, why would anyone need to go to church to worship?
To the Hebrew mind, and to David who penned this Psalm, this would be a question that they would not understand. The Word of God was not given to an individual. The Word of God was given to a people. The call to worship was not an individual call, it was the call to a nation, to the nation that God had chosen. And, as you read the Book of Psalms you will glean that David viewed it as a call to all creation, together, corporately, and to be answered in unison. To the Jew, the concept of neglecting the call to corporate worship, and replacing it with individual worship, was not even considered.
David proclaims in this Psalm – “My praise comes from You while I am among those assembled for worship.” David knew how to worship as an individual. He would write songs and sing them to the Lord as he watched over the sheepfold. Yet, David also knew that the call to “worship” was not answered until he was among those “assembled” for worship. In this same Psalm we read the powerful promise –
- “Yet, you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.” (Psalms 22:3 GW)
Yahweh, the Holy One, is enthroned on the praises of Israel. His rule, His reign, and His awesome presence was manifested when God’s people were assembled for worship. The glory of God did not fall upon Solomon when he reviewed the plans for the Temple in his chambers. The glory of God fell upon the Temple when all Israel was gathered together for its’ dedication and assembled for worship. There is a power and a release of God’s presence that takes place when the church is assembled that is not released and realized when we are simply by ourselves.
David not only understood the dynamic of God’s presence being manifested in power when the corporate body of believers was assembled, he also understood that this was what God desired of His people.
- “I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who fear the LORD.”
Our walk of faith, our spiritual service, our sacrifice of praise, is meant to be offered in the presence of those who fear the Lord. We cannot do this alone. We are called to offer our lives, our hearts, our minds, and our talents – as living sacrifices to the Lord, and in the context of the corporate gathering of God’s people.
This is not to make a show, for this is never acceptable to God. However, it is to make a proclamation of faith, and to offer a joint offering of praise that both glorifies God and strengthens the faith of those assembled. This is why the writer of Hebrews exhorts us not to forsake the assembling of the saints.
- “Brothers and sisters, because of the blood of Jesus we can now confidently go into the holy place. Jesus has opened a new and living way for us to go through the curtain. (The curtain is his own body.) We have a superior priest in charge of God’s house. We have been sprinkled ⌊with his blood⌋ to free us from a guilty conscience, and our bodies have been washed with clean water. So we must continue to come ⌊to him⌋ with a sincere heart and strong faith. We must continue to hold firmly to our declaration of faith. The one who made the promise is faithful. We must also consider how to encourage each other to show love and to do good things. We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.” (Hebrews 10:19-25 GW)
So, we come back to the original question.
“Do I have to go to church to worship?”
The answer is YES!
While we all can worship God individually, and we should, our worship is not complete, our spiritual service is not fulfilled, until we offer it among those assembled for worship. This is not my opinion, this is the declaration of the Word of God. Is it any wonder why the enemy of our souls will try to foster any excuse, distraction, or activity to keep us from being faithful to this call?
God has so much for us if we will hear His call! He delights in pouring out His presence when His people are gathered together.
- For – “…You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.” (Psalms 22:3 GW)
In Jesus Name!