Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Psalm 98: Worship is Joyful Celebration of God

KEY TEXT: Psalm 98:3-6 All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

KEY THOT: The psalmist declares God’s salvation has been revealed in his righteousness, steadfast love and faithfulness to Israel: “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” This salvation is not some after-life hope but a present experience of God’s deliverance from Israel’s enemies and the demonstration of God’s love and faithfulness to Israel. In the face of such salvation, the appropriate response is to “make a joyful noise to the Lord”, to break forth into “joyous song”, with lyre, trumpets and horn to “make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!” (v.4, 6). Paul in the NT exhorts the church that is Word-filled and Spirit-filled to address and sing to one another in “PSALMS and hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph 5:19; Col. 3:16).

That the psalms were part of the repertoire of NT worship suggests that NT worship is a joyous and loud affair, not staid and silent. OT attitude towards worship is best summarized by the word “celebrate”: “David and the whole house of Israel were CELEBRATING with ALL THEIR MIGHT before the Lord, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals” (2 Sam 6:5, NIV).

Both contemplative worship and celebrative worship have their place in true NT worship, taking its cue from the Psalms. Worship is not about our personal preferences but about the LORD’s preferences. We don’t sing for ourselves; we sing for the Lord. So it’s important for me to ask: does God enjoy celebrative worship that is loud and joyous? The psalms seem to suggest that God’s love-language is joyful celebration--joyous songs accompanied by loud instrumentation (cymbals, lyres, trumpets and horns). As an introvert, my personal preference may be for quiet and solitude but apparently God enjoys the extroverts' joyous celebration too--or more often it seems. Since worship is for Him, not for me, I must align my preferences with His in worship. In worship, I don't do what I LIKE, but I do what HE LIKES. In fact, God's home (heaven) itself seems like a noisy place for extroverts: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and CRYING out with a LOUD VOICE, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" 

We worship to please God. And if it’s “joyful noise” he wants, let’s make room for it. Otherwise, we might not look forward to going to heaven since it's likely to be too "contemporary" and noisy for our liking.

Father, I thank You that heaven is a noisy place because of the great celebrative worship that is on-going. Grant us grace to make room for such joyous celebration. Amen.

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