"THE LORD IS IN HIS HOLY TEMPLE"
"But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him" (Hab. 2:20)
INTRO.: A hymn which reminds us that the Lord is in His holy temple and encourages us to keep silence before Him is "The Lord Is in His Holy Temple" (#55 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text is taken directly from the scriptures. In all of our books it appears as a single stanza based on Hab. 2:20 and was most likely adapted for the music by the composer of the tune (Hieron), William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921). The song is dated 1900, and the copyright was renewed in 1928 by the Hope Publishing Co., but its original source of publication is unknown. Stanzas 2 and 3, based on Ps. 122:1 and 19:17, were added and adapted by Wayne Steven Walker (b. 1954). Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song with the one stanza appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song is intended as a call to worship, reminding us of the purpose for which we assemble.
I. Stanza 1 refers to the one in whose presence we gather together
"The Lord is in His holy temple; Let all the earth keep silence before Him:
Keep silence, keep silence, Keep silence before Him."
A. While God had a "temple" under the old covenant, and the church is His spiritual temple under the new, the contrast here with "all the earth" would seem to indicate that the prophet, and the song, are referring to the Lord’s eternal temple in heaven where He dwells: Ps. 11:4, Mic. 1:2
B. The fact is that the Lord wants all the earth to worship Him: Ps. 96:1-9
C. Therefore, all the earth should keep silence before Him, symbolizing the reverence, respect, and awe with which we should come before Him: Isa. 41:1, Heb. 12:28
II. Stanza 2 refers to the joy that comes from gathering together
"Glad was I when they said unto me, ‘Let’s go into the house of Jehovah:
The house of Jehovah, The house of Jehovah."
A. Those who are faithfully serving the Lord have many reasons to be glad: Ps. 9:2
B. One thing that makes them glad is that they can speak to one another: Mal. 3:16
C. Specifically, they can be glad when they invite each other to go into the house of Jehovah; again, God had a literal "house" in the Old Testament, but since the church is built up a spiritual house today, going "into the house of Jehovah" simply refers to those times when Christians can assemble together: Heb. 10:25, 1 Pet. 2:5
III. Stanza 3 refers to the need to make sure that we are pleasing to the Lord when we gather together
"Let all the many words of my mouth And all the meditations of my heart
Be pleasing unto Thee, My strength and Redeemer."
A. It is true that we should always make sure that our words and thoughts are pleasing to the Lord, but it is especially needful in our
worship because we are to praise God with the fruit of our lips: Heb. 13:15
B. However, the fruit of the lips by itself is not enough; what we say must be a true indication of what is in the heart because worship must be both in Spirit and in truth–words of truth prompted by a spiritual heart: Jn. 4:24
C. Therefore, as we worship, we must make sure that both the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts are pleasing to God, as must be the whole of our lives: Phil. 4:18, 1 Jn. 3:22
CONCL.: When I was growing up, it was the custom of the congregation that my family attended to have everyone on Sunday mornings assemble in the auditorium before Bible classes for a song and a prayer. This song was frequently sung at that time to help those gathered to focus their thoughts on the reasons for being present and to develop a suitable frame of mind for the activities of the services. It is good to be reminded when we come together for worship or Bible study that "The Lord Is in His Holy Temple."