What type of worship most glorifies God? Often we think of the “best” worship music as quiet, slow, methodical and contemplative. We often equate reverence with quietness. For instance, while Melissa and I were visiting Manhattan before Christmas last year we stopped into a 150 year old cathedral. In that massive sanctuary, there were a few worshippers and dozens of tourists, but besides the shuffling of feet and a quite murmur, the place was almost silent. It was a quiet reverence.
Certainly there is a time for quiet and silence, but often the Scriptures call us to loudness rather than quiet. Repeatedly we see in the psalms that an appropriate response to the gracious acts of God is an explosion of praise and celebration. Apparently this is what God’s creation is already doing without us. Isaiah 55:12 says, “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” In Luke 19, when Jesus’ followers were praising God with shouting, the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke them. Instead he responded, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” God’s creation is already shouting his praises, and is urging us to join in the celebration.
The Psalms are not presented in random order. The 150th psalm is the last one, which is a doxology that brings the entire collection of psalms to a rousing conclusion of worshipful celebration. The Psalm starts out:
Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!
How do you praise God “according to his excellent greatness”? We’re urged to give praise that corresponds appropriately to his immeasurable awesomeness. What type of praise would be proportionate and appropriate? The Psalmist writes,
Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!
In response to the excellent greatness of God, we are urged to praise him with an eruption of loud, celebratory, worshipful music. So it seems a shout of praise, a celebratory dance or a clashing cymbal may be as appropriate as a moment of silence or a quiet prayer.
Martin Luther described the gospel as “glad tidings, good news, welcome information, a shout or something that makes one sing and talk and rejoice.” God’s grace is immeasurable and his gospel is phenomenal news. Let’s make some noise for the greatness of God!
(originally written for Delve on October 3 2010)