By Semi-Retired Pastor Jeremy Stopford
Have you ever read a verse – and I trust y’all have read MANY verses! – and said to yourself, “HEY! I’ve seen this somewhere else in the Bible!”. Well, that recently happened to me!
I found the passage “SERVE THE LORD WITH” in several verses.
Let me encourage you to become familiar with “biblegateway.com”. This is an amazing web site. Once you get there, look on the left side of the page for “READ THE BIBLE”. Click that and you will be given several choices. The one you want is “ADVANCED SEARCH”. That is where the fun begins! When you fill in your blanks among several choices, then click the amazing choice which says “LOOK UP THE PASSAGE”. Perhaps you’ve discovered MANY verses. Perhaps you’ve found but a few. Have fun!
Curiosity didn’t kill THIS cat! I went to “biblegateway.com” and did all the above, punching in the four words, “SERVE THE LORD WITH”. Much to my surprise, there are only THREE verses containing those four words in order. Here they are:
#1 Serve the Lord with ALL YOUR HEART 1 Sam. 12:20
#2 Serve the Lord with FEAR Psalm 2:11
#3 Serve the Lord with GLADNESS Psalm 100:2
Let’s look at each one. The FIRST is found in 1 Samuel 12:20. The entire verse reads:
“Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.”
I encourage you to read the entire chapter of 1 Samuel 12. It is a turning point in Israel’s history! In verse 2, Samuel begins to review his life before the people of Israel. I found fascinating his words, “I am old and grayheaded, and look, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my childhood to this day.” He is rehearsing the reality of a life lived for the Lord! Do you remember his beginning? In Chapters 1-2, his mother DEDICATES her son Samuel to the Lord! She GIVES HIM to the Lord! That means she gave him to the current priest at the temple where he would serve for the rest of his life. Wow! Would YOU dedicate your life for the remainder of YOUR days to the Lord?
Samuel is reminded that his sons were not as holy as he; in fact, even the people of Israel recognized this. So at the request of the people, he anointed Saul as their first king. But please note very carefully his words in verse 12. When an enemy came against them, they sought a king just like the other nations around them. But what did Samuel remind them of BEFORE they chose a king? Verse 12 includes “And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ WHEN THE LORD YOUR GOD WAS YOUR KING. They settled for. Did you catch that? They already had a King – the Lord God! They had no need of any other king (SMALL “k”) when they already had The King (LARGE “K”).
So in the middle of that warning, Samuel graciously gives two encouragers:
#1. Serve the Lord WITH ALL OF YOUR HEART! God doesn’t want half-hearted servants! And then…
#2. I will never cease to pray for you! Listen to Samuel’s words in verse 23: “far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.” What a servant’s heart! And if that weren’t enough, he then repeats #1 in verse 24: “Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart”. Good direction for long-term servants of the King of kings.
The SECOND is found in PSALM 2:11, which reads, “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.”
This, too, is an amazing chapter. In fact, I would dare say that THIS chapter is the key to the heart of the world system today. “Huh? How can you say that? How can you say that ONE chapter in particular in the Old Testament, much less the wonderful psalms, can affect life as it is taking place literally thousands of years after this chapter was written?”
Well then, look with me at verses 2 and 3:
2 “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.”
Does anything in these 2 verses look strikingly familiar? Let me count the ways!
#1. The higher ups of this world have united together against the Lord AND His Anointed. “His Anointed” is the Messiah, the Lord Jesus. So the kings and rulers of the world have decided that they have no use for the Lord and for His Lordship of their lives – much less of the lives over whom the Lord has wisely placed them (see Romans 13!).
#2. And don’t faint! He uses the Lord and His Anointed’s words against them! Look at verse 3 again. “LET US break Their bonds…cast away Their cords”. In Genesis 1:26 where the description is given of the creation of man, Moses writes, “Then God said, LET US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness.”
Yet by the time man gets to Genesis 11, what is MAN say who is trying to create a tower to reach the heavens?
“LET US make bricks…”. (Verse 3)
“LET US build ourselves a city…” (Verse 4a)
“LET US make a name for ourselves…” (Verse 4b)
Yet by Verse 7 the One Who is really in charge, the Lord Himself, says:
“LET US go down and there confuse their language…”
So we get to Psalm 2, and the psalmist is now in the roll of a prophet. The author King David (according to Acts 4:25-26) gives the heart of the spirit of all ages when he writes the heart of the leadership of the world: “LET US break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.” (Psalm 2:3).
Into that age long scenario comes The Son’s rehearsing of His Father’s words, verse 7:
“I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, You are My Son.
Today I have begotten You.”
OK! So WHEN does this take place? When does the Father declare that His Son is the ONE AND ONLY ONE?
Go to Acts 13:33 for the AMAZING fulfillment of Psalm 2:7!!!!!!
“God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son. Today I have begotten You.’
Key Phrase: “HE HAS RAISED UP JESUS”!!! So the Father declared His Son “the One and Only One” at the point of His resurrection from the dead! What day was that? You bet – EASTER SUNDAY!!!
So into that setting comes verse 11, ““Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” The people of the world system say that the world should serve themselves. The Lord reminds them Whom they should serve: they should serve HIM! And “with fear” – not being afraid, but with an holy respect. Serve Him with fear. And rejoice with trembling – a phrase the Lord uses throughout Scripture. For example, check out Isaiah 66:2, where the Lord observes, “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who TREMBLES at My Word.” Good verse!
Finally, the THIRD use is found in “The Old Hundredth”, Psalm 100:2: “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing.”
This psalm is often entitled, “A Psalm of Thanksgiving”. It guides the servants of the Lord well: “A joyful shout [“noise”, KJV]…Serve…Come…Know…Enter…For the Lord is good…”.
Let’s look at each one briefly:
* Make a joyful shout!
* Serve the Lord with gladness!
* Come before His presence with singing!
* Know that the Lord is God!
* Enter His gates with thanksgiving!
* For the Lord is good!
These are all the center not only of true thanksgiving, but also of true worship! In the middle of verse 3, the unnamed psalmist reminds the worshipper that he did not create himself – rather the Lord Himself is his creator. His creation alone is sufficient reason to worship Him. We are His sheep by virtue of His creation. In later books of Scripture, we would be reminded that we are His own by virtue of our trust in His purchase at the cross.
Further, in verse 5 the psalmist reminds his reader of the exclusive worthiness of the Lord’s worship: He is good! His mercy is everlasting! His truth endures to all generations! Wow!
So into all this comes verse 2: “Serve the Lord with gladness…”. And why wouldn’t one? If God alone is worthy of our worship, then our heart’s attitude should be one of gladness!
So let’s put these all together:
“Serve the Lord with all of your heart,” for He is your ETERNAL KING!
“Serve the Lord with fear,” for He is your RESURRECTED KING!
“Serve the Lord with gladness,” for He is your WORSHIPPED KING!
Is this how you will be serving the Lord from now on?
Is He YOUR Eternal, Resurrected, and Worshiped King?