Reading: Psalm 68
Sing to God,
you kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
to him who rides across the highest heavens,
the ancient heavens,
who thunders with mighty voice.
Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the heavens.
You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power
and strength to his people.
Praise be to God! (NIV).
Psalm 68 ends with a call for us to sing. Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth, sing praise to the Lord, to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens, who thunders with mighty voice.
Have you noticed how important singing and music are to our celebration of Christ’s birth? Take music and song out of Christmas and there is little left. In many ways carols define the season and add sparkle and joy. And so it should be. Heaven saw fit to announce the Saviour’s birth through song. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:13-14).
God sent an angel choir to celebrate the birth of His only begotten Son. And earlier during her pregnancy, at the home of Elizabeth, Mary burst out with what is commonly called the Magnificat or Mary’s Song. See Luke 1: 46-56. Yes, in the darkest month of the year we can rejoice with the songs of Christ’s birth.
So yes we should sing praise to the Lord, to him who rides across the highest heavens. He sent his star to guide the way for the magi. One glorious night the heavens joined in to declare the glory of heaven’s Son, who had come to earth to be born among men—men and animals.
What a grand descent! From the highest heavens to a lowly stable. That’s the glory of Christmas. God transferred His sanctuary—His dwelling place—from heaven to earth—from heaven’s throne room to a stable. Now we can join with the psalmist and the shepherds with these words of praise:
You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.
Praise be to God!
Response: LORD God, thank you for sending Jesus. Thank you for coming in frail human flesh—flesh like our own. Thank you because now we can know you as one of us—God with us. Amen.
Your Turn: How important are music and song to you? Do they lead to heartfelt worship?
Reading: Psalm 57
They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves.
My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth (NIV).
As with many of David’s psalms, Psalm 57 turns on a dime. By that I mean the psalmist begins in a state of worry and trouble. In his distress David cries out to God and the Lord answers him. Suddenly, desperate pleas are replaced by wholehearted praise. The psalm ends with rejoicing over the goodness of God. David invites us to join in his rejoicing. I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.
There is tremendous power in music. When I am discouraged—trapped in the Christian pilgrim’s Slough of Despond—a song of praise can lift me out like nothing else. Perhaps you have had a similar experience. When I am drowning in a sea of regrets, music brings buoyancy. Worship helps me set my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. See Hebrews 12:2. Faith gives us eyes to see beyond our current set of circumstances.
Most often we want to see God’s deliverance before we praise Him. In the introduction to Psalm 57 we read that David hid in a cave from King Saul. David called out for God to deliver him and He did. Therefore, David bursts out with music and song. Can you picture him strumming on his harp and singing with a smile you can see for a mile?
But there are times when I believe God wants us to sing His praise before deliverance comes—before the healing appears. He is our good and faithful God whether we have faith to move mountains or are troubled by doubt. Whether we live or die, He is faithful and worthy of our praise. In all the circumstances of life our help comes from Him.
Response: LORD God, even in the midst of trouble fill my heart with praise for you. You are good and faithful. You are my help—my steadfast help—through Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.
Your Turn: Can you recall a time when you praised God before He brought the answer to your prayer?