April 21, 2017

More Than a Song (Psalms part 5)

So far in our study of the book of Psalms, we have examined the purpose of praise, the might of music, and the command to create. Now let’s tie the previous articles together. There is one very important aspect of the Psalms that we have not yet touched. Let’s see what we may have missed…

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We have established that God wants us to return the love which He shows to us (He wants our praise). God gave us a very powerful tool to do just that (music). God even gives us the keys to the workshop when He tells us to “sing a new song” (to be creative).  The Psalms, as music, as poetry, as artistry unrivaled in any medium known to man, are very important for our emotional and spiritual well-being. They help us connect directly to God.

But there is yet more.

Yes, the Psalms give us a way to express our gratitude for salvation and our love for God, and they are very, very powerful. But let us not forget that praising God does not start and stop with a song. We know that the Old Testament laid out the laws governing atonement for sin through the sacrifice of lambs, goats, birds, etc. Jeremiah, however, mentions a different kind of sacrifice – the sacrifice of praise. Was he talking about music? Maybe, maybe not. But Jeremiah makes it clear that praise, in whatever form it takes, is valuable. Sacrifice of any type is costly, and Jeremiah connects the old system of animal sacrifices (remember that the animals were the Jews’ livelihood) directly to praise.

So how does this connect to the psalms? In Psalm 51, David states a very important truth – God does not desire sacrifices like the old burnt offerings. In fact, David says, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (51:17). When David wrote this, he may have had Samuel’s words in mind:“to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam 15:22). If we connect the dots between these statements made by Samuel, David, and Jeremiah, we might come to see God’s command to “sing a new song” a little differently.

Knowing that Jesus taught in parables (a type of figurative speaking) and that the Bible is heavily peppered with figurative language of all kinds, might it be that God has hidden a little nugget of wisdom within the command to “sing a new song?” What if the “song” is not a song at all? What if the “song” is us? Or rather, our lives? What if singing a “new song” is really a metaphor about living a new life, being transformed by the power of God, and practicing obedience to His word? What if it’s really about sharing the good news of forgiveness, grace, salvation, and peace with a world mired in sin, guilt, bitterness, and suffering?

Wouldn’t that please God more than a song?

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