What did worship look like, feel like, sound like, for women in the Bible? Today is Sunday. Worship will look like going to church and singing and praying and listening to the Word of God taught. But, as I've been taught recently, worship is something we as humans do 24/7. We are always worshipping something at any given time.
And if we are looking for good "praise" songs--why not look at the Psalms, the very songs God liked so much, He recorded in the Bible forever.
After receiving Gabriel's good news, given just to her, Mary started with a humble heart: "Behold, the bondservant of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word." Mary had received good news. Startling news. Guess what, Mary--you are the one prophesied--the virgin found with child. A prophecy no one understood. And any girl found with child usually received the death sentence. The news was given by Gabriel just to her with the news of another miracle---Elizabeth, her relative, is six months along---with a son in her old age. Called barren...no more. "For nothing will be impossible with God," Gabriel also declared.
It was all Mary was told---it was enough. Or, maybe the angel said more, but this is what God recorded forever. Mary acts on this information, and travels by foot over one hundred miles to visit Elizabeth. And when they meet: Lots of worship happens! God the Holy Spirit comes upon both of them and they say some mighty amazing things for an old woman, and a new mom:
Luke chapter one, verse 39 picks up the story:
"Now at this time Mary arose and went with haste to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it came about that when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the BABY leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice, and said, 'Blessed among women are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my LORD should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord."
Elizabeth is loud, and excited, and knows supernaturally because God is inside her, and her baby, and her son while only six months along, is a BABY. (not a fetus, not just tissue) He is a boy. He has been given a name. He has a special job to do as herald to the King, the Messiah and Savior who was promised, and who everyone has been waiting for. Elizabeth commends Mary for BELIEVING: trusting that what Gabriel told her was from the Lord. Elizabeth does not know yet that an angel delivered God's word, but she knows those words are from God. God's Word. And now recorded in God's Word forever.
Elizabeth worships. Elizabeth shouts. Elizabeth comforts Mary and comfirms and will be a hostess to Mary for about three months.
Mary's worship will include quotes from the Old Testament. And her worship will reveal that she has been listening when the Word of God has been taught at home, at synagogue, and when they would travel to Jerusalem a couple of times a year. She had heard the stories, and the promises, and knew her God---His character, His ways, His actions. And she took comfort from God's revealing Himself in words and in deeds. She had confidence and trust, that the same God who promised things to her ancestor, Abraham, would take care of her. This is what Mary said, and it is recorded in God's Word forever:
"My soul exalts the Lord. And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. And His mercy is upon generations after generations toward those who fear Him. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things; and sent away the rich empty handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his offspring forever."
Mary did not know exactly how everything was going to work out, and she would be there at the cross when her Son is crucified, and no one understood why it was necessary at the time, that her Son, the Lord Jesus Christ had to be the Lamb of God for the sins of the entire world. But, Mary was there at the resurrection. She would know extreme sorrow, pain, and then joy---when her Son and her Savior came back from the dead three days later, just as He said He would. And now sits at the right hand of God.
Elizabeth and Zacharias' worship would include raising a son named John. John would preach to his generation...maybe next time we will look at what the Bible says his worship looked like.
I think we sometimes mix our traditions of worship with what we think worship should look like. Instead, lets look at what worship looks like in the Bible---in the the lives and examples we are given. Instead of making stuff up, instead of depending on our feelings and fleeting emotions, lets look to the source for what God would have us do.
And for examples of praise---God seems to have really liked David's songs---the Psalms recorded forever in the Bible. What are their patterns? What do they say about the heart of worship?