By Daniel Im
My children love to sing and dance. Often after dinner we’ll goof around, turn up the tunes, and sing songs. No, not like the von Trapp family—but we have sung “Do Re Mi” from The Sound of Music more than once.
One evening, I began singing “A Whole New World” from Disney’s Aladdin. I loved the melody as a child, but while teaching it to my children, I quickly realized something about the lyrics—I didn’t agree with them.
In particular, this line bothered me: “No one to tell us no or where to go.”
I certainly didn’t want my children saying that to me.
The thing about music is that it deeply shapes us—often without us recognizing the full extent of its influence. A 2008 study by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of schoolchildren in Boston found that children with three or more years of musical instrument training performed better than those who didn’t learn an instrument in auditory discrimination and fine motor skills. They also tested better on vocabulary and nonverbal reasoning, which involves understanding visual information.
You would naturally expect someone who is learning an instrument to develop fine motor skills, which they did. However, you wouldn’t necessarily expect better vocabulary and nonverbal reasoning. It’s amazing how the brain is wired and how music shapes your brain.
Similarly, have you ever considered the way worship shapes your heart?
In Psalm 40, we come across a song that would have been sung publicly in worship. God used this song to shape the hearts of His people and remind them of their identity and their calling in this world. The psalm is a heartfelt cry of thankfulness for who God is and what He has done, is doing, and will continue to do.
This psalm is powerful because it helps us understand the relationship between worship and gratitude. Worship begins when we realize everything is ultimately from God. In other words, worship starts with gratitude.
In fact, this psalm begins and ends with the declaration that we are in need of God’s work and His salvation. So when we worship, let’s thank Him not only for His past saving work but also for His ongoing work in our lives.
This psalm also teaches us that worship is about openly, blatantly, bluntly, conspicuously, consciously, and boldly speaking to the Lord and about Him to others. It’s about never ceasing to declare His righteousness, faithfulness, constant love, and truth.
Most importantly, this psalm shows us just how normal worship must be. It’s not something reserved for Sundays or beautifully designed sanctuaries. It’s an everyday thing. Yes, it’s important to gather regularly to worship as the church, but that’s not where worship begins or ends.
We are called to worship when we’re at home putting our children to bed. When we’re driving to work. When we’re on the treadmill. When we’re eating smoked ribs. When we’re in between meetings. And when we’re studying the Bible.
May we be a worshipful people and allow the Lord our God—the Creator and Sustainer of all things—to shape and mold our hearts.