Have you ever noticed people's faces as they sing in church?
It's a little easier for me because I play the piano. Sometimes I glance down at the congregation. Some people look like they are in pain, enduring to the end of the song. Some people look cheerful and vibrant. Some people look like they are captivated by the song. Some look like their minds are a million miles away.
Psalm 33 is a powerful "music ministry" psalm. It teaches the importance of music in our worship. It even teaches us the mode and method of our singing and music.
Psalm 33:1-3 "Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright. Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise."
Rejoice- To celebrate with joy.
Singing to the Lord should not be a painful event that we endure. It is a form of praise that our Lord greatly desires. It is also "comely" for the upright. That means it is appropriate, beautiful, and attractive. When it comes to the music part of the church service, do you endure? Or do you joyfully pour your heart into it knowing it is a vital part of our worship?
Praise- to express approval, admiration, gratitude, and respect.
Music and song can show our gratitude and respect to the Lord. The music service shouldn't be about us. It's about Him. Does the music we choose and the songs we sing reflect our focus on Him? Does the music selected display our respect for the Lord? If the music and songs mimic the world's music, it doesn't show the respect our holy God deserves. If the lyrics are unbiblical, the song doesn't honor the Lord. If the song is focused on us and not Him, it isn't praising Him. If we select our music ministry based on what we like and want instead of what shows honor, respect, and gratitude, then our music ministry is no longer praise to God. It becomes praise to ourselves! If the music feeds our flesh, it is definitely not music He is interested in hearing.
Sing- to make musical sound with the voice.
Singing isn't optional. It's actually commanded in the Bible. God loves it when we sing to Him and about Him. The amazing thing is that the Lord hears the music of the heart. It isn't about how lovely we sing with our voice (though we should do our best), but it is about giving Him our whole hearts while expressing praise in singing worship. We should also not allow our singing and music to become routine and dull. Sing unto Him a new song. That isn't talking about putting a stamp of approval on CCM, or any fleshly music, simply because it is new. It is however talking about being willing to learn (or write) new songs to keep things fresh and vibrant. Our singing should never be mere habit, even when we are singing songs that have been around for centuries.
Play- to operate a musical instrument.
Playing musical instruments is a vital part of the music ministry and worship service. It is a worthy investment to spend our time learning to play an instrument and encouraging our children to learn an instrument. Notice, though, that it says to play skilfully. That takes time and effort. It takes practice. We shouldn't just "wing it" for the Lord. When those who play instruments put the time and effort into learning their instruments to the best of their ability, their playing becomes a beautiful offering on the altar of praise. When we treat our playing of instruments flippantly, it becomes little more than racket. Remember, the Lord is looking at the heart. We don't have to be perfect concert pianists, but it does matter that we have put effort into learning our instruments the best that we can. We are worshiping the Creator of the universe. We need to give our very best and put the time into making our music worship one that honors and respects who He is. The verse also says to play skilfully with a loud noise. When I sit down at the piano or psaltery, if I am playing a song I am still learning, I often play it timidly and quietly. When I have learned the song well, I play it confidently and loudly.
The music ministry and worship service matters. It matters also how we do it. Do it with joy. Do it with respect, honor, gratitude, and admiration. Be involved: sing and play the instruments. And do it skilfully. He is worthy of us giving our very best at all times.