Lent Day 6

Day 6: Tuesday, 12 March

Psalm 47

A Psalm of the Sons of Korah

Applause, everyone. Bravo, bravissimo!

      Shout God-songs at the top of your lungs!

God Most High is stunning,

      astride land and ocean.

He crushes hostile people,

      puts nations at our feet.

He set us at the head of the line,

      prize-winning Jacob, his favourite.

Loud cheers as God climbs the mountain,

      a ram’s horn blast at the summit.

Sing songs to God, sing out!

      Sing to our King, sing praise!

He’s Lord over earth,

      so sing your best songs to God.

God is Lord of godless nations—

      sovereign, he’s King of the mountain.

Princes from all over are gathered,

      people of Abraham’s God.

The powers of earth are God’s—

      he soars over all.

MSG

The sons of Korah feature as the writers of a number of psalms. Korah, a grandson of Levi, met his end very swiftly (see Numbers 16). This translation brings out the immediacy of the praise and worship of God. The words of themselves are not meant to be beautiful or transcendent. This psalm is a hymn of praise, of triumph, of the greatness of God, pointing to the Author, not the scribe.

The perhaps more familiar words of the opening, ‘O clap your hands together, all you/ye people’ do seem a trifle tame. Clap hands?! Where in our orders of service is there a space for applause of God?! Could it be that in our Christian experience and subsequent worship we may have lost sight of the reason why God should be applauded? For the Israelites, the story of their escape from Egypt and their victories under God in gaining the land where they now lived was still fresh and strong in their folk memory. God has indeed done a marvellous thing. Now, what do we in the twenty-first century recall of the past or present greatness of God? What has God done for us?

We have no physical ground to conquer, but the forces of secularisation are uniting to wipe out faith in our land and continent. Are we sitting by, watching it happen, or even hiding in our churches, hoping not to have to address it?

The call to sing to God comes many times in this psalm. I am aware that singing is not universally taken up by people during worship, sometimes because of their own low perceptions of their ability to sing, a fear of singing out, or simply because the music never seems to fit one’s vocal range, though I am always impressed by the vocal gymnastics of the octave-shifters who shift the high notes down a gear and the low ones up! It’s a bit like driving an automatic.

Negative attitudes regarding the type or selection of music can leave some people refusing to worship God out of personal principle. I’ve been there – it’s sinful because I put my personal sensitivities or my opinion of what pleases God before obedient worship of God. We are called to worship. Refusal to worship is a refusal to acknowledge who God is.

I conducted a funeral of a dear friend a little while ago. The church was full. There was a small music group accompanying the hymns. The bass guitar player’s performance was dire – he took a couple of verses to find the correct key, and he was LOUD. He stood just two yards from where I was standing. My initial reaction was that he was turning our worship into a cacophony. This was actually true. How could God be worshiped here? I paused for a moment or two and wondered whether the sound of the finest musicians would be any more pleasing to God than that which the rest of us have to give. I let go of my sensitivities in the racket and gave in to God. I sang as if I was surrounded by angels. I believe that the high praise of God was offered, with angels in attendance, at that funeral. I later found out that this man was a faithful musician known to the family over the years who was now suffering from a form of dementia.

Do you sing your best songs to God?

Can God be worshipped with all that modern stuff/all those old tunes (select the one that matches your viewpoint)?

Is it possible that God is Lord of godless nations today?

Father God, when I come to worship you, I pray that it is in obedience to your call and not according to my preferences. Amen.

All Scripture quotations are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Paul