Here is an interesting bit of counsel from Solomon on our attitude when we approach the Lord to worship.
Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 – 1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. 2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. 3 For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.
Solomon cautions people to guard themselves as they approach the place of worship. He reminds them that God is in heaven, indicating that God is high and holy. In comparison, we are, well, not. And this distinction should cause us to be careful in what we say and what we do, especially as worship is involved.
Solomon is writing here under an Old
Testament economy. Worship in this context has much to do with presenting right sacrifice before the Lord. And it would be utter folly for a sinful man to go to the temple and confidently assert what God must accept from him as an offering. There is no room for us to be brash in our dealings with God.
So, in a direct line of application, the king is warning people not to think they can tell God what must happen for God to accept them. This is still true today. There are many people who believe that they can determine exactly what God ought to do with them and their lives. They believe that they can sit in judgment over the ways of god. But man will never set the parameters by which God deals with him. This is God’s work and God’s alone. God has said that there is only one way to salvation, by his grace through faith in Christ alone. God has made it clear that trusting in Jesus in such a way that brings us to repentance is our only path to being accepted. We do not work to earn salvation, it is faith alone. But that faith is a life-changing faith.
I would suggest, however, that this also applies to worship in our modern context. We must first understand that, in Christ, we may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3:12). We must grasp that God grants to us the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor 5:21). And so we do not approach the Lord in worship fearing that we will not be welcomed. We have, after all, been given the right to be called children of god because of Jesus (John 1:12-13).
But I think this passage can remind us that, even in Christ, we ought to approach the worship of God with genuine reverence and humility. God is still God in heaven. He is still greater than us to an infinite degree. And we should be far quicker to listen to his word than we are to go into worship telling God what we will give him. We should follow
Scripture. We should, when it comes to new ideas, let our words be few. We should reverently and joyfully, with solemnity and with celebration, bring honor to the name of our God in the ways that God has clearly said honor him.
So, consider these thoughts when you next go to worship. Approach God in God’s way. Come to him first in faith and repentance, believing in Jesus and yielding your life to him. And come to him in humility with joy, knowing that God has shown us how he is to be worshipped. Come to sing, pray, and listen to the word. Come to participate in Lord’s Supper and take part in genuine, Christian fellowship. Come to honor God.