Whole-hearted worship of God is more than a pouring forth of emotions. The state of our heart-condition is often shown when we are outside our weekly gatherings for worship. Psalm 26 (also a psalm of David) begins with the following words: “Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.” This is another way in which whole-hearted devotion is shown. Dale Ralph Davis, in his excellent little booklet on the Psalms entitled In the Presence of My Enemies, notes that David’s hope of vindication (i.e., being shown to be in the right and cleared of accusations of wrong-doing by his enemies) is because of “both his lifestyle (‘I have walked in my whole-heartedness’) and his faith (‘in Yahweh [emphatic] I have trusted’).”
I recently began preaching through Psalm 138 for the month of November. It’s a psalm of thanksgiving, and it seems appropriate to be reminded of that topic during this time of year. It’s a psalm of David (the first psalm of the last collection of Psalms of David found in the Psalter), but it’s also probably an overlooked psalm, partly because it is located between two better-known psalms. Psalm 137 looks forward to deliverance from cruel enemies, while Psalm 139 celebrates the life-giving, every-present Lord (by whom we are fearfully and wonderfully made). Psalm 138 is located in-between, but in many ways it celebrates the deliverance from enemies that Psalm 137 anticipates.
David begins Psalm 138 by proclaiming, “I will give thanks to you with my whole heart, O Lord.” Indeed, whole-hearted worship is what we should always strive toward. Deuteronomy 6:5 (the first and great commandment, according to Jesus) is obviously in the background here: “Love the Lord your God with all of heart and all of your soul and all of your might.” We will always fall short of this goal, of this ideal. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever (Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 1), but because of the Fall and our own personal sin, we fall short of this mark apart from His grace. This is why we need a Savior, Jesus Christ. And what a great reason to give thanks to God with all of our heart!
But this whole-hearted worship of God is more than a pouring forth of emotions. The state of our heart-condition is often shown when we are outside our weekly gatherings for worship.