Quite a few years ago I found my head turning when I laid eyes on a particular verse in the Book of Psalms.
After long consideration it strikes me that this might be a good example of a rather direct text, that is, there is little “fudge room” or lack of clarity or difficulty in solid interpretation. Not so with application, but I will offer a few thoughts on that further down the page.
First, let’s unpack the scripture, but then let’s consider our expression in any lyricism and worship music (lyrics to be specific) in the local and larger church.
Psalm 101 verse 1 is one of those we might just blow through- you know, pass over quickly and move on into the “meat of the message” so to speak. Only I am convinced this is more than a passing verse which merely “sets the stage” for the rest of the lyric as this entire Book is comprised of song lyrics.
You would do well to research other’s scholarly insights in commentaries as well as other English translations (both which I do regularly), but I will here quote the World English Bible:
I will sing of loving kindness and justice. To you, Yahweh, I will sing praises.
“Love, Justice, Praise”
Other translations render the Hebrew into various English words:
-lovingkindness, steadfast love, faithful love, gracious or loyal love
David says “I WILL SING -OF-…”, then “-TO- THE LORD I WILL SING”
Though the context would rightly be singing to the LORD Himself, there is a broader application in the practical if not fully intentional by David, that is, this Psalm among all the others in part of the hymnal of Israel, therefore sung in worship.
When considering Paul writing both the Ephesians and Colossians (Eph. 5.19,20; Col. 3.15-17) one finds both “vertical” and “horizontal” language. We sing TO God, but also TO one another ABOUT Him, His attributes, and from His Word and authentic experience sing/speak/teach one another regarding His views on any matter you’d care to name, regardless. Note the key points David is emphasizing in this particular text-
LOVE -utterly true/genuine love: God’s love
MERCY -goodness, kindness, faithfulness -which God is the ultimate Source of, therefore, God’s mercy
JUDGMENT judgment, justice -perfect and absolute justice/judgment, therefore God’s Own judgment
SING PRAISES- Heb.- sing, sing praise, make music, make music on a musical instrument -THIS we are both commanded and encouraged to bring to Him and for Him directly. And yet people also directly benefit as we do so in any public setting.
But how might people be served via our lyrics?
Relating to the Ephesian and Colossian verses, I often remind people that we are not called upon to either teach nor admonish God Himself… rather one another. We make music and sing lyrics TO God but also TO one another.
Thinking this through my own questions are formed.
***WHAT or HOW do my/your/our current lyrics (vertical OR horizontal) reflect regarding these three key points in Ps. 101.1?
***WHY or why not?
***WHAT is the need in our personal life, the lives of our fellow believers especially local congregation, and in the larger church as well as world?
Lastly, put bluntly, love songs are cake. I’m not saying there is no need for them, rather they are at times a cop-out for a writer or performer or even worship leader.
JUSTICE?! Write and sing about justice (particularly in a worship lyric) and some people begin to judge (I mean in a negative way) especially if the issue is mercy extended to someone/s they strongly dislike! God has a way of being gracious to those we would rather see him smack, no?
PRAISES?! They get “up the nose” of pre/un-believers and at times, even Christians who would rather focus on self and humanity than truly giving honor/glory/thanks/PRAISE to the Only One truly Worthy of continual praise. For the larger world it is a foreign, almost offensive thing due to human arrogance and insecurity (both)… they, we, are NOT God but want to be. He does not -share- His glory (note… HIS glory) with another nor is anyone else worthy of praise in the sense the Bible calls for it. Worship? This is about God, not us. So this is often offensive both to unbelievers as well as rebelling Christians. Yep. Deal with it. And repent where you need to!
You and at times I may not FEEL LIKE singing or writing or playing such songs regardless of the setting… or shall I say more regarding my/our personal issue/s at the moment. So what?! Growing up benefits both us and our audience/congregation. Immaturity and wallowing in it corrupts both of us.
David says he WILL sing with reflection in all three general categories. Do we? Are we? Should we?
Things to consider, and as always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn