Lord’s Day 35: Commanded in His Word

Catechism and Psalter

Last week our study of the Heidelberg Catechism revealed that the Ten Commandments form a complete framework on which to build a grateful life of Christian service.  They are much more than a set of prohibitions; understood in the light of Christ, they are rules of gratitude by which we can know how to please God.  Today we turn to the examination of the second commandment as found in Lord’s Day 35.

96 Q.  What is God’s will for us in the second commandment?

A.  That we in no way make any image of God
nor worship him in any other way
than he has commanded in his Word.

97 Q.  May we then not make any image at all?

A.  God can not and may not
be visibly portrayed in any way.

Although creatures may be portrayed,
yet God forbids making or having such images
if one’s intention is to worship them
or to serve God through them.

98 Q.  But may not images be permitted in the churches as teaching aids for the unlearned?

A.  No, we shouldn’t try to be wiser than God.
He wants his people instructed
by the living preaching of his Word—
not by idols that cannot even talk.

Suggested Songs

185, “O Come and to Jehovah Sing” (Psalm 95)

Worship, the focus of the second commandment, is the primary theme of Psalm 95.  This rousing Psalter Hymnal selection calls us to prepare our hearts to worship God reverently and sincerely.

O come and to Jehovah sing,
To Him our voices raise;
Let us in our most joyful songs
The Lord our Savior praise.

Before His presence let us come
With praise and thankful voice;
Let us sing psalms to Him with grace,
With grateful hearts rejoice.

Jehovah is a mighty King,
Above all gods His throne;
The depths of earth are in His hand,
The mountains are His own.

To Him the spacious sea belongs,
He made its waves and tides;
And by His hand the rising land
Was formed, and still abides.

O come, and bowing down to Him,
Our worship let us bring;
Yea, let us kneel before the Lord,
Our Maker and our King.

32, “Jehovah Hear Thee in Thy Grief” (Psalm 20)

“That we in no way make any image of God nor worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his Word.”  The Psalms speak specifically to the necessity of acceptable worship to our great and holy God.  Psalm 20, though not particularly a “worship psalm,” contains one such example:

Jehovah hear thee in thy grief,
Our fathers’ God defend thee still,
Send from His holy place relief,
And strengthen thee from Zion’s hill.

Thy sacrifice may He regard,
And all thine offerings bear in mind;
Thy heart’s desire to thee accord,
Fulfilling all thou hast designed.

In thy salvation we rejoice,
And in God’s Name our banners raise;
Jehovah hearken to thy voice,
Fulfil thy prayers through all thy days.

86, “Praise the Lord, Ye Lands” (Psalm 47)

(Sung in altered form on YouTube)

“God…wants his people instructed by the living preaching of his Word—not by idols that cannot even talk.”  Psalm 47 perfectly synopsizes the only acceptable attitude for worship: heartfelt praise mingled with humble reverence.  Nor do we praise the Lord with some abstract sense of happiness, but as a response to his majesty and his mighty deeds.

Praise the Lord, ye lands;
Nations, clap your hands;
Shout aloud to God,
Spread His fame abroad;
Praise Him loud and long
With a triumph song;
Bow as ye draw nigh,
For the Lord Most High,
Terrible is He
In His dignity;
And His kingdom’s girth
Circles all the earth.

Praise His majesty
Understandingly;
God is King alone
On His holy throne,
Issues His commands
To all heathen lands.
Lo, the princes all
Gather at His call;
His the shields of earth,
His the power, the worth;
He, the God on high,
Is our Helper nigh.

–MRK

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