Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
And His praise in the assembly of saints. (Psalms 149:1)
People are passionate about their music preference. That is primarily a generational matter—our age often dictates the style of music desired. The form of our worship whether expressive or reserved is primarily an emotional matter—it has to do with the way we are wired up personally. But, in all this discussion of styles and sounds, the most important thing isn’t the way we worship but who we worship; not our method but our motive. Worship isn’t primarily about you or any other human being—it is about God!
In God’s hymnal—the Psalms—we find them building to a crescendo of worship (149:1-3). The hymn book of Israel closes with a great summation of the nature of worship and a summons to utilize sacred melodies in that most holy activity. The repeated call is to praise the LORD. We can shout His praises, speak His praises, but the emphasis here is on singing them. We use the medium of our voice! There is nothing wrong with the old songs and traditional music. How much sound doctrine I have learned from those old hymns written by men and women with hearts hot for God and heads filled with biblical theology. Tried and true, we should never abandon them. But, there was a time when they were contemporary music! The church in ages gone by often resisted them and rejected them as worldly. What do you do with phrases like this, “Sing to the LORD a new song”? That’s contemporary music!
Blessing God is the focus, but receiving a blessing is a fruit. Though what we receive is secondary, it is real nonetheless (Ps.149:4-5). “He will beautify the humble with salvation.” That’s personal blessing. Music has a power to touch us at the very core of our being—that’s why we are so passionate about it. Music can cultivate the soil of the sinner to receive the message. It can encourage a weary saint and bring them joy.
The text is primary and the tune is secondary (149:6-9). The melody of a song is subordinate to the message. If a song isn’t Scriptural, it isn’t sacred! Now, let me see if I can upset almost everyone! I have heard songs set to shaped notes, sung with great enthusiasm in four-part harmony that did not have a thimbleful of Gospel about them. I have heard choruses set to pulsing rhythms, sung with great emotion that could just as well have been sung to your boyfriend or girlfriend as to God! What honors God is His Word! He says that He has magnified His Word above His name (Ps.138:2). If the words are Scriptural, whether they are accompanied by an organ or an orchestra, whether sounding like Bill Gaither or Bach—you can even rap it like Lecrae—it’s OK! We all have our preference and God prefers spirit and truth—His Word is truth!
You can worship God anywhere and you should (150:1). The psalmist mentions the firmament—the vast expanse of heaven. There is just something that moves us in the majesty of creation—a sacred tabernacle. But, usually that is private and personal worship. For corporate worship there is a sacred gathering place! You should worship God with every means and by all means (150:2-6)! Music has such a power to move us!
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD! (150:6)