sermon follow-up: SBMT (bow down)

This past Sunday morning’s sermon was part two in the four-part series SBMT series. Part one was all about seeking the Lord (yes, the “S” in SBMT stands for “seek“) and part two was about our need to “bow” to the Lord.

As we seek the Lord, we hear ourselves frequently called to “bow” to God. The Psalms alone are powerful examples of this, overflowing with this call to our hearts. Following are two, brief examples:

Come, let’s worship and bow down! Let’s kneel before the LORD, our maker! He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, the sheep in his hands. If only you would listen to his voice right now! (Psalm 95:6-7)

But now what does it mean to “bow” to God? Let’s allow the same Book that calls us to bow down to provide us with the answer. Notice the parallel thought in this single verse:

Give to the LORD the glory due his name! Bow down to the LORD in holy splendor! (Psalm 29:2)

To “bow” to God is to “give the Lord the glory due his name.” That’s what a word we use more commonly today is all about: respect.

Respect: to give particular attention to someone because you have high regard for them; to give someone what they are rightfully due.

So why should we bow to, or respect, God?

There are a multitude of reasons, but if a person is truly “seeking” the Lord, they are beginning to grasp his uniqueness and goodness (Psalm 99:9) and they are starting to see their life as belonging to him, particularly because they view him as their maker (Psalm 95:6-7). Our quest for our maker now seen as something natural and our bowing down to our maker as something expected.

Now if we give our good maker what he is rightly due, ultimately we will worship him. But let’s imagine a person is not yet moved to “worship” God, but are down the road away in their quest for God: what might they note along the journey of “seeking” and “bowing” that would move them closer to worshiping him?

I would suggest they would see that God “bows” to us; our good maker gives us what we our due. That is, he respects us because he loves us. We’re not “trash,” but treasure to him, his own handiwork in his own image.

Is this a new thought to you, that God “respects” you? If so, think for a moment of just a few of the powerful ways God shows his love toward us by giving us his attention and addressing on our level so we can relate to him.

His own Son came and lived among us in our own form, even choosing his most common (and so, apparently his favorite) self-description, to speak clearly and plainly to us in reminder of this respectful way of communicating with us:

“… the Human One came eating and drinking …” (Matthew 11:19)

Living as we do in flesh, this Son of God stooped, bowed and knelt to serve us in a million different ways, respecting and reflecting his Father’s love as well as the needs of our person. Who cannot be moved by the depiction of it again and again and again in the record, such as the following:

“… he got up from the table and took off his robes. Picking up a linen towel, he tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet …” (John 13:4-5)

And his way of respectful, loving service to us knew no boundaries or limits. He respected and served his Father ultimately by respecting us and serving us practically:

“He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed. He said, “Father, if it’s your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, not my will but your will must be done.” (Luke 22:41-42)

Yes, this is what a person seeking the Lord cannot help but note: the God who calls us to bow down to him in worship shows us how to do just that by bowing down to us in service. As you truly seek the Lord (that is, give a care for, and make an effort toward, him), you will come to “bow” to him (you’ll grow in your respect of him). You’ll come to see how he loves you so and how that his respect for you is a part of his expression of love for, and to, you. You’ll want to develop and deepen that respect, and as you do so, you’ll find yourself bending lower and lower before him, “bowing down” and worshiping him. And that’s why Scripture speaks the way it does of our whole existence being about “bowing” to God:

“Surely every knee will bow and every tongue will confess; they will say, “Righteousness and strength come only from the LORD.” (Isaiah 45:23b-24)

“Therefore, God highly honored him and gave him a name above all names, so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

And so, let’s continue to seek him and grow in our respect for him:

“Come, let’s worship and bow down! Let’s kneel before the LORD, our maker! He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, the sheep in his hands. If only you would listen to his voice right now!” (Psalm 95.6-7)

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