Friday, May 13, 2016

Singing Praise

Psalm 33:1-22

“Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.  Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.  Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.  For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.  He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.” (Psalm 33:1-5)

Christians, ought to sing to God and take pleasure is speaking and singing about and to him for having forgiven their sin and loving them.   It is fitting that they sing praises to God.  Unfortunately, music is often a source of conflict in the modern churchI Corinthians 3:3 tells us, “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”  The fact that the music is causing conflict proves the church or organization is following human wisdom rather than the Holy Spirit.  There are several factors that come into play as a result of this carnal state.

Many people equate certain instruments with evil refuse to allow them in church.   The instruments themselves are not evil and scripture describes the use of numerous instruments to praise God, from flutes, harps, psalteries, viols or violin like instruments, trumpets and cornets, a bagpipe like instrument called a sackbut, cymbals, and a small hand drum similar to a tambourine.  The problem is not the instrument, it is how it is used.  Even things that were designed by God to turn people to him can be used to turn them away if misused.   Inanimate objects are not in themselves inherently evil.  The use of a certain instrument should not be a cause of conflict. 

A second source of conflict is over the volume at which the music is played, and many modern musicians point to the command to play with a loud noise.  Because there were no amplifiers in that day, the volume was limited to the capabilities of the instrument itself.  For large groups to hear the instruments and be encouraged to sing along it was necessary to play loudly because God wanted to hear the people to sing praises to him.  Today, with modern amplification, the instruments and praise leaders are often so loud they drown out the people, frequently causing pain to those with sensitive ears.  A spiritual attitude would be concerned that their music not cause pain. 

The third issue is why we are singing.  We are to be singing to God, not to the crowd.  When our music and musical program designed to appeal to the crowd, or to emphasize the musical abilities of and individual or group such as a soloist or praise band, our singing is carnal rather than spiritual, even though it may produce strong emotional reactions.  People can be just as emotional over Satanic things as over Godly ones.   They are just as apt to be holding their arms in the air and swaying to the music at a concert promoting a gay or promiscuous lifestyle as they are at a Christian concert. 

The final issue we will address here is content.   Hebrews 13:15 defines praise as giving God thanks.   By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”    Although the English word has a much broader meaning, this is the biblical definition.    Meaningful thanks always relates to specific actions, and praise of God recognizes specific things he has done.   This Psalm provides an excellent example of what real praise involves.    

“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.  He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.  Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.  For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.” (Psalm 33:6-9)

God created the world in a planned fashioned yet all it took was his speaking to make it happen, and he still controls it.  All mankind should stand in worship and amazement at his wonderful power.    

“The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.  The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” (Psalm 33:10-12)

God is far more powerful than any human entity.  He causes everything to turn out the way he planned, even using mankind’s deliberate attempts to thwart him to accomplish his plan.  His plan and laws cannot be changed.  As a result the people he has chosen are especially blessed because nothing can take away his promises. 

“The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.  From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.  He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.  There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.  An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.” (Psalm 31:13-17)

As was stated in the Declaration of Independence, God created all men equal.  Though they might have different skin color or speak different languages he gave each one the same opportunity in life.  He observes what they do with the opportunity, and the outcome of their decisions is determined by God.  No king or government can survive solely on their own power or influence.  To depend on their own power or military equipment is foolish.  The fastest horses and the strongest man are still defeated by tiny things. 

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.” (Psalm 33:18-19)

One of the most wonderful things about God is his constant attention to those who love and serve him.  They are kept by his power and led by the Holy Spirit so that they need not fear losing their salvation because of some sin they might commit.  Not only that, but they can trust him to provide their needs, even when the people around them are dying for lack of basic needs. 

“Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.  For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.  Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” (Psalm 33:20-22)

Because we know that God will never change, and his plan cannot be changed except by him, we can trust him, knowing he will do what he promised.  We expect to  be rewarded in accordance with the way we have trusted him. 

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