All This For a King

The first time I ever really “got” the song “O, Praise Him” by The David Crowder Band, I was just learning how to download youtube videos. Those were in the heady days of “if I can download it for free, it must be ok.” Those were the days of the virus laden programs you could download from the internet, about as pure and clean as licking a truck stop bathroom doorknob.

But in any case, I was downloading music videos to play during the pre-meeting portion of our clubs. It was cool. I already had one that displayed both Crowder’s musical prowess and his nerdy love for animation.

I happened across a video, which I have come to find is not an official video, but fan made and it made the entire song click for me. I do not have rights to repost it, so I can describe it. It still exists on youtube with proper crediting and even a link if you want to pay the 15 bucks it costs to license its usage in public.

The cool part about the video is that it is a perfect example of what happens when you mess around with the fire that is the adoration of God. It starts with a young guy walking through New York City, doing what many did back in the days before the iPod had taken over as the go to device for music with its ubiquitous earbuds.

Instead it’s a guy with a discman and simple earphones.

As he walks, he exits the hard face of a seasoned NYC walker. If you’ve never been, you don’t know, but if you have been and didn’t belong, you understand. If you live there and don’t know, here’s what y’all, youse guys, you do:

You go places and keep your eyes straight ahead, surreptitiously scanning for your next street name or subway stop. But don’t look too long, unless you would be betrayed as some sort of tourist. Your eyes are disinterested in just about everything.

Including people.

Especially people.

The only people who make direct eye contact in the city are guano flinging crazy people. Everyone else seems content to just sort of shoulder past the throngs of humanity with which they travel hither and yon.

And then there’s this kid with the headphones.

When you begin to hear the praises of God, it is easy to pick them out as artful or artless. If you are a millennial, try to listen to the contemporary praise and worship music from the 70’s and 80’s.

It’s hard.

But still, there’s an element to it that harasses the ear out of passive observation mode into something deeper.

Something calls us.

When my college career was entering into its death throws, my first go around, I had one worship cd that would follow Frank Zappa and precede Tom Waits.

I know. Random.

But that CD player would not open and so the last five discs I had entered into it were the only ones I could ever hope to play again. So after Zappa got done with singing about yellow snow, there would be a long transition between discs and then the opening sounds of worship would begin. On the first beautiful note, my eyes would begin to mist up.

It is not lightly that anyone ever by their own voice or by musical equipment at their disposal, or any equipment within earshot evokes the glory and greatness of the King of creation. While our stubborn hearts may be turned hard away from Him, even the cells of our bodies cry out to Him, knowing the Genius who made them.

So this kid walking the streets of NYC listens to David and the boys worship the Christ

Turn your ear to Heaven and hear the noise inside [1]

Apparently Crowder was inspired with this line on an airplane trip to Georgia at the very beginning of his involvement in the Passion conferences. In the interior of the airplane, he considered the screaming noise within an airplane and his brain under the inspiration of his relationship with God and the Holy Spirit whispering above the noise displayed for Crowder that Heaven is even more a riot of praise within. [2]

The sound of angels’ awe,
The sound of angels’ songs
And all this for a King
We could join and sing
All for Christ our King

While this dude listens to the song, he begins to notice the unmistakable handwork of God along his path. Birds nesting in the impossible concrete jungles of Manhattan, colors existing between the unbroken palate of gray and grayer, and people who display the image of their Creator.

He shakes it off every time it becomes uncomfortable.

How constant, how divine,
This song of ours will rise
Oh, how constant, how divine,
This love of our will rise
Will rise
O praise Him!
O praise Him!
He is holy!
He is holy!

That simple statement that we must, or should, or can, or might praise God because that level of beauty inspires praise is a powerful one.

I read a blog from a blogger recently who said that worship was an outdated practice of superstitious idiots all trying to compel favor from a figment of their imagination. The discussion on the after effects of his post was old enough that I passed on entering into the discussion, but it really did amaze me that he did not understand worship.

Worship is not an act to compel favor from God.

Worship is an act we do because we have born witness to something and experienced Someone so potently that we cannot remain silent.

We praise God because of what He has done.

When Moses and Miriam threw together their number one jam mixtape after crossing the Red Sea, they sang about God throwing the horse and rider into the sea. It wasn’t to try to compel some favor from God. They were elated to still have heartbeats and had somehow just been handed a victory in a one-sided battle that should have seen them all killed or re-enslaved.

It’s like Bill Engvall’s estimation of Tee Ball, where you just swing at a ball without having to learn how to time a swing at a pitch. Someone just handed them the victory. Those who would meet them would fear them. Some would fear because they obviously had a more powerful God than any of the menagerie of weirdos in the Egyptian tradition. Some would fear them as warriors, disbelieving any God.

Point is… they praised God because they had seen His great works. And they worshiped.

Turn your gaze to Heaven and raise a joyous noise
The sound of salvation come
The sound of rescued ones
And all this for a King
Angels join to sing
All for Christ our King

The song turns subtly from desiring to join the throng of angels in their worship of Christ to inviting angels to enjoy the creativity that has been planted in the DNA of mankind. What an honor it would be to be a songwriter who finds out on the other side of the veil of eternity that when we wrote songs, it got the angels’ feet tapping.

If they have tappy feet… if they tap feet… Angels are cool.

So our NYC walker is becoming less and less composed. He smiles and even sings along with certain parts of the song. He begins to notice less and less the spectacle he is making of himself and desires more and more to join the utter spectacle of the gathered body of perfection and eternity that puts its greatest efforts and affinity into worship of God.

How infinite and sweet
This Love so rescuing
Oh, how infinitely sweet
This great Love that has redeemed
And as one we sing

This guy walks into the middle of a street, surrounded by work cones, completely vulnerable and yet safe from oncoming traffic. Completely visible, but yet only attentive to the attention of One, he throws up his hands and shouts heavenward,

He is Holy!
He is Holy!
Oh praise Him!
Oh praise Him!
He is Holy!
He is Holy!
He is Holy!
He is Holy!

That we could all be caught up in a moment just once that we discover the sweetness in abandon of self and devotion to Him in a moment of the riot of our hearts given up to Him. That we could learn the desire to praise and would instead of arriving our customary ten minutes late to a worship service would wait on someone to unlock the door just so we can get in and not miss a single moment.

Dude, don’t get me wrong, if you’re late, I’m glad you’re here. I have four kids. Sometimes you have to be late in order to not lose your salvation on the way out the door. [3]

Praise like this requires a few things.

You need God. He needs to exist.
You need music. It also needs to exist.
You need to participate.

Strangely, you are only in charge of one of those three things.

God is.

He has given us music.

We have the privilege to participate. The style does not really matter as long as we are not distracted by the vehicle.

Where are you walking this week? What are you ignoring? What do you need to pop into your ears so that you can be compelled by the noise inside of the place of Heaven and taken away from your distracted life into some place that is utterly real? What will you see when you finally, and maybe for the first time, open your eyes and look.

1. David Crowder, “O, Praise Him,” Illuminate. sixsteprecords, 2003.

2. David Crowder, “O Praise Him, Lyrics and Chords,” Worship Together Interview. Accessed Nov 13, 2018.

3. This is a joke. I don’t believe your children can frustrate you out of the grace of God. If we’re super lucky, we can be frustrated by them into deeper relationship with God… who will tell us about how much we occasionally frustrate Him.

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