Keeping Worship Fresh by Widening Your Use of the Names of God

Zac HicksWorship Resources, Worship Theology & Thought1 Comment

A while back, I wrote a review of Worship Words, by Debra Rienstra and Ron Rienstra.  This is a rich and important work.  Chapter Seven, “Naming God,” speaks into how we as worship leaders and congregants can keep worship fresh.  The authors point out that the more we understand the diversity of the names and expressions of God in Scripture, the more our “theological and doxological imaginations” (my term) are kept fresh and vital.  We worship leaders and congregants often fall into thinking of God and relating to God in narrow ways.  Think of how we often address and portray Him in our worship songs and prayers: “Savior,” “Redeemer,” “King,” “Friend,” etc.  These are not bad at all.  They’re biblical.  The issue is that we can pigeonhole God into a few categories, to the neglect of the breadth of many others.  Has corporate worship been flat as of late?  Perhaps your “doxological imagination” could use a tune-up.  Check out, for instance, these names for God just found in the Psalms:

O God of my right (4:1)
My King and my God (5:2)
O LORD my God (7:1)
O righteous God (7:9)
LORD, the Most High (7:17)
O LORD, our Sovereign (8:1)
My rock (28:1)
God of Israel (41:13)
LORD God of hosts (59:5)
God of our salvation (65:5)
O Holy One of Israel (71:22)
O Shepherd of Israel (80:1)
God of vengeance (94:1)
Judge of the earth (94:2)
Mighty King (99:4)
Lover of justice (99:4)
A shield around me (3:3)
My glory (3:3)
A righteous judge (7:10)
King (10:16)
Rock (18:2)
Fortress (18:2)
Deliverer (18:2; 144:2)
Horn of my salvation (18:2)
Stronghold (18:2)
Redeemer (19:14)
Shepherd (23:1)
God of Jacob (24:6)
God of my salvation (25:5)
My light (27:1)
My salvation (27:1)
My strength/strength of his people (28:7-8)
Saving refuge of his anointed (28:8)
Help in trouble (46:1)
Helper (54:4)
Mighty one (50:1)
Upholder of my life (54:4)
Refuge (62:8)
God of Sinai (68:8)
Almighty (68:14)
Mighty one of Jacob (132:2)
Hope (71:5)
Trust (71:5)
Portion (73:26)
Father (89:26)
Great God (95:3)
Great King above all gods (95:3)
Maker (95:6)
Lord of all the earth (97:5)
Keeper (121:5)
Shade at your right hand (121:5)
God of gods (136:2)
Lord of lords (136:3)
God of heaven (136:26)
King of glory (24)
God of glory (29:3)
LORD of hosts (24:10)

(from John Witvliet, The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship, pp. 18-20)

Perhaps you can start by diving into some names that seem unfamiliar or even cause you to raise an eyebrow.  Perhaps you can do CCLI searches for worship songs which have names of God that are less-often used.  Perhaps its time for you to write your own new worship song based on a name of God, or (just as fantastic) you can find an old hymn that could use a fresh tune and do the same.

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