“Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song.
Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful.
Praise his name with dancing,
accompanied by tambourine and harp.
Let the praises of God be in their mouths,”
Psalms 149:1, 3, 6a NLT
In yesterday’s Psalm, Psalm 148, the Psalmist wrote about all the wonderful God-things he could think about, and he experienced a “wow” moment that translated him into a different dimension. A praise-zone so wonderful that he had to share it with his readers, encouraging them to “Praise the Lord” too.
The theme continues in today’s Psalm but with the exhortation to be more physically expressive. So the Psalmist encourages the writing of a “new song”. He suggests that praises to God should be sung amongst “the assembly of the faithful”, a congregation of God’s people. But before we develop a picture in our minds of rows and rows of elderly and pew-bound men and women holding hymn books and singing with bored expressions on their faces, the Psalmist advises how praises should be – with dancing, tambourines and harps. Now what a picture that would be! Hymn books thrown aside. New songs abounding. The congregation bouncing up and down the aisles, the percussive sounds of tambourines and harps all but drowning out the dirge-like sounds exuding from an organ, tucked away in the background somewhere. Praises expressed in the way they should be – in total abandonment to our wonderful Heavenly Father. He deserves our praises, offered from every ounce, every fibre, of our beings, for what He has done for us. One day I suspect that we will find Heaven to be a bit like that. No pew-bound-ness there. Read Revelation 5.
But after our quick glimpse into Heaven, here we are, back on planet Earth, trudging along on our life-pilgrimage. Lifting our tired limbs step by step, tramping along through the highways and byways of 21st century society. And we wonder about this environment of praise. It’s unusual to find praise expressed in such total abandonment in any of our Western denominational churches, though we might find it on the terraces at a football match. It is beyond me to understand how people can express exuberant praise honouring their football team, who are kicking around a bag filled with wind, when they can’t offer up the same praise to their Creator, who created the bag materials and provided the wind. But, apart from that digression, there is something within me that is bursting to join a praising throng of God’s people, as the Psalmist described. Abandoning the pre-conditioned reticence that seems to blight most people in my generation, and being able to enter into the “wow”-zone of God’s presence. Why? Because our Heavenly Father is worthy of all the praises we can muster, and then some. We cannot praise Him enough for all that He has done for us. But one day we will get that opportunity, those of us who have embraced God and His Son, Jesus, committing our lives to them in an eternal act of repentance and commitment.
I’ve just had a mischievous thought – why don’t I go out and buy a tambourine. And then take it to church on Sunday. Hmmm…