Psalm 150:3-6 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
As an 82 year old conservative Presbyterian I have always found Psalm 150 a very challenging part of holy Scripture. But as I get older, I realise we could really benefit from a bit more loud enthusiasm in our worship – and here I find God himself commanding me to be more enthusiastic!
Having admitted that, I’m not sure that I’m comfortable when the band plays so loudly that it totally renders ineffective my singing instead of just enhancing it (although I can understand why they might feel obliged to do so!). I think of the expression, “damned with faint praise” and wonder if that’s how God feels when we sing half-heartedly in Church, going through the actions without being deeply moved in every part of our being by the greatness and wonder of the One who is our Creator, our Saviour, and our moment-by-moment Sustainer.
It seems there are two extremes the Devil must aim at achieving in our worship: singing without feeling it; and making a loud fuss without thinking about what we are doing. Surely if we are aware of the dangers of the extremes, we can strike a happy medium. Let us always encourage, and be encouraged by, each other in our worship, so that those of us of a conservative bent might be led to express greater enthusiasm, and those of us with a more ‘dramatic’ personality are encouraged to be a bit more reflective about what we’re doing so that it isn’t ‘just for show’.
And, above all, let us accept the fact that God builds his Church out of people with a wide range of gifts and personalities so that we learn to bless and be blessed rather than criticise and be criticised. I’m certainly glad that not everyone is ‘blessed’ with a singing voice like mine.
Perhaps we need to be especially careful with the ‘dancing’ expression of praise. I know David defended himself against the ungodly criticism of his wife, Michal, when he “danced before the LORD with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14-23), but we do need to be aware of how our praise can easily deteriorate into a ‘sensual’ performance, more about entertaining and attracting attention to ourselves instead of focussing attention on the God who is worthy of all praise.
– Bruce Christian