Warfare Worship

Then my head 
Will be high 
Above my enemies around me; 
I will offer sacrifices 
In His tent 
With shouts of joy.
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
-Psalm 27:6

There is a place where God lifts our heads up above our enemies and we give high praise to God with shouts of joy, songs and music.  There is a reality of warfare in our lives with the enemy: God's enemy and our enemy.  There is a key to walking in victory over the enemy, which is simply practicing the presence of God.

There is a place that God has for us, where we are above our enemies, and enjoying God.  Warfare worship is to travel into God and then praise God, sing, and shout from the elevated place of God's presence, where the enemy can not touch us.

The starting point of worship and warfare is that God is our salvation.  The act of God saving and delivering us immediately brings us into spiritual warfare.  When we are saved or delivered, the first thing that is natural to do, is to thank God and enter into praise and and worship as a life style or way of living.

The enemy is irritated with people who become saved or delivered, like hornets who's nest has been poked.  The enemy always has limited resources or assets, so they don't waste energy on those who are captive or deceived, but pursue and war against those who have been set free or are walking in freedom.  They would like to recapture us, or prevent or discourage us from setting others free.

This Psalm starts by saying "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?"  Fear and salvation are like dark and light.  Light extinguishes darkness.  

There were things that made David afraid and stuff that makes us afraid.  A tactic of the enemy is to get us to fear.  

This is a part of the normal life of the believer.  Having enemies and being saved, delivered, and protected from them, by the Lord is also normal.

Psalm 27 begins with this:
The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom should I be afraid?
When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh,
my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell.
Though an army deploys against me, my heart is not afraid;
though a war breaks out against me, still I am confident.
This is a warfare psalm and there are a lot of them.  We could easily read this and take in the fact that David was a warrior and had real battles with real people.  We see and learn how he relied on God in his troubles and on the battle field.

If we were soldiers today, we might take comfort from these warfare psalms.  But as civilians, we might be tempted to set aside the warfare and enemy paradigm or scenario and just draw comfort from the fact that the Lord has saved and is saving us, taking care of us; and we do not need to fear, because God is taking care of us.

That is all somewhat true.  But we can not set aside warfare and the reality of enemies.  Part of the Christian life involves spiritual warfare, with the enemy, which is Satan and the demonic realm.

The context of Psalm 27 is warfare.  When we read psalms like this, we have to decide if we are going to just slice out and set aside the warfare part and say that the writer really was a warrior, who was in war, and he wrote some great things about praise and worship, in the midst of where he was (in warfare).  Or, are we going to take the alternative viewpoint, which is the view that I hold, and that is that we see the whole of the scriptures through Christ, and Jesus Christ, who was and is at war with the enemy, who also has become our enemy.

Basically, what I am saying is that is you are in Christ, you are at war, like it or not.  You and I are warriors.  The bride of Christ is a beautiful lady, who is a warrior.

In that light, we see the warfare psalms, like this one, as instructive for the Christian life, which is a life of warfare.  There are thoughts, beliefs or ideas out there that say that the demonic is not real or they are all somehow gone.  But the truth is that the demonic realm is real and are at war with God and God's people.

That is my lens through which I apply the scriptures.  David and we have enemies that God saves, delivers, and protects us from.  With that in mind, this in the next thing David writes:

I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire:
to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple.
For He will conceal me in His shelter in the day of adversity;
He will hide me under the cover of His tent;
He will set me high on a rock.
"One thing", means the main thing or the foremost thing.  Have you ever had one thing you were asking God for?  Something is in the forefront of our minds, and that is how it was with David.

His one thing he wanted, and remember that this is a guy in war, who had enemies after him; the one thing he asked for was to "dwell in the house of the Lord" all the days of his life.  He then fills in his request or vision of his desire by saying that he just wants to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and seek Him in His temple, and be concealed in His shelter.  He then ties this into the backdrop of the warfare he is involved in, saying he desires all this during the day of his adversity, and asks to be hidden under the cover of His (the Lord's) tent and set high (by the Lord) on a rock.

That is a lot of information or a detailed prayer request.  Some questions arise for me:  What is the house of the Lord?  What is His temple?  What is His shelter?  And what is His tent, that David is referring to?  And how does this apply to me?
  • House of the Lord, to dwell in, every day
  • Temple of the Lord, to gaze upon God's beauty and seek Him in
  • Shelter of the Lord, He conceals me in
  • Tent of the Lord that He hides me under the cover of
It is worth noting that the Temple in Jerusalem was not built yet.  But there was a tabernacle, that we call "The tabernacle of David", which was a tent.  David might have had the tabernacle (worship tent) in mind.  But it is interesting, that he does not say that he wants to go there and sing, make music, or dance; but that he wants to dwell there, gaze at God there, be concealed there, and be hidden, made under cover there.

This song begins with the statement that the Lord saves me, so I will not be afraid.  He then could have said that he just wants to sing, to worship and praise the Lord.  But, instead, David uses words to express that he desires to dwell with the Lord and just look at the Lord, and become concealed and hidden, in the Lord.

This is a little bit different than singing praise and worship songs.  He says his number one request, with the backdrop of the warfare he is in, that is fear inducing and that he needs salvation from and through; his one thing he asks is to dwell with the Lord.

And then he unpacks that statement to say, everyday, gazing at the Lord's beauty and seeking Him, coming into the Lord's sheltering concealment, and being hidden and under cover in the Lord's tent.  This is what David means by dwelling in the house of the Lord.

Again, the context of his saying these poetic words, is that he was being hunted by evil predators.  He can look out and see a whole army deployed against him.  We know that David was a great and brave warrior, who had others with him usually and knew how to use weapons and fight hand to hand.

But in the oncoming warfare, David's heart turns to these thoughts about the Lord and rather than praying for victory in the possible oncoming battle, he asks God to let him dwell with Him and life in his presence, everyday; and for him to be able to gaze at the Lord and become wrapped up and enfolded by the Lord, so that he becomes concealed, hidden, and under cover.

The lesson here is that warfare worship can be where we dwell with in the Lord.  It starts with the choice, desire, and action to dwell with the Lord, which often just involves gazing upon Him.  And then what happens, is that we become hidden, concealed, or made to become under the cover of the Lord.

And boom, that is the warfare or a worship warfare lifestyle that this song of David teaches us today.  The dwelling leads to coming up into the place of the Lord, that is above the enemies around us.  From that place, we shout for joy in worship, sing and make music.

We might sometimes have it backwards, when we begin with loud singing and music.  The place to begin with is dwelling, which involves gazing at the Lord and coming into his presence in solemn awe.  It is like the phrase, "peace be still" or "be still and know".

Then when we come into God's presence, because his presence has come to us; then we shout, sing, and make music.  Today, we often make music, sing, and shout first before we seek to come into God's presence.

There are a lot of admonitions in scripture to wait on God.  What if more of our worship and lives of worship was waiting and gazing and dwelling in the quiet first, and then singing, shouting, and making music after God lifts us up?  This is a lesson in worship & warfare that is being illustrated here:
Then my head will be high above my enemies around me;
I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy.
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
The word "Then" points back to the preceding verses for context.  He is saying, that after he is able to dwell with the Lord, which is gazing upon the Lord's beauty and getting so wrapped up in the Lord, that he becomes hidden, concealed or under cover; he is then in a higher place, above his enemies, and from there shouts for joy, sings, and makes music to the Lord.

But getting to the "then" of having dwelt with the Lord, is a struggle of sorts.  There is a transition from being under attack to being in God's dwelling place and getting lifted up.  The transitional roadway is prayer:
Lord, hear my voice when I call;
be gracious to me and answer me.
My heart says this about You,
“You are to seek My face.”
Lord, I will seek Your face.
Do not hide Your face from me;
do not turn Your servant away in anger.
You have been my helper;
do not leave me or abandon me,
God of my salvation.
Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord cares for me.

Because of my adversaries,
show me Your way, Lord,
and lead me on a level path.
Do not give me over to the will of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing violence.

I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and courageous.
Wait for the Lord.
Previously, David shared where he wants to go, to dwell with the Lord, every day.  He then shares how he believes it will be to dwell with the Lord, and the results it will have, lifting him above his enemies.  But, he comes back to the reality of the struggle to get to the dwelling place.

The last words, "Wait for the Lord", are the key to how he will get to the place of dwelling, gazing, and being wrapped up in the Lord.  The Biblical idea of waiting is focusing on and being at the service of someone else, like a waiter or waitress in a restaurant.  It is active and on alert.

When we wait on the Lord, we have faith in Him and are focused on him.  Waiting on the Lord is the first step to dwelling with the Lord.  And dwelling with the Lord leads to praising and worshiping the Lord with shouts, singing, and music.

And dwelling with the Lord is the key to spiritual warfare as a life style.  We come up above the enemy through dwelling with the Lord and that results in praise and worship.

If you are being threatened or intimidated and being incited to fear by the enemy, the way of salvation from the enemy and all their unpleasantness is dwelling with the Lord: stepping into the place of gazing upon Him.  Tucking your self into the Lord, and being wrapped up into the Lord.

We have been born into warfare and worship.  This is the way and how of Christ to live: practicing God's presence for living, for worshiping, and for victory in warfare.