Saturday, May 04, 2013

Praise with understanding

Singing choir
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 47:1-9

TO CHEW ON: "Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding." - Psalm 47:6,7

The sentence "Sing praises with understanding" snags my attention. What other ways could we sing praises?
  • Perhaps with emotion, caught up in the celebratory atmosphere of those around us?
  • Perhaps in the soulful enjoyment of the music itself?
  • Perhaps in a rote way, participating in the liturgical service to which we've become so accustomed we don't give much thought to the words we're singing?

[Understanding - sachal means to be wise, behave wisely, to understand, to be instructed, wisely consider; to be prudent and intelligent. Sachal describes the complex, intelligent thinking process that occurs when one observes, ponders, reasons, learns and reaches a conclusion" - Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 963 - emphasis added.]

Translated into the realm of praising God in song (and using the old hymns as examples), to praise with understanding may mean:

1. We observe and pay attention to the words we sing. Though we've sung it hundreds of times, we attend to the words "Great is Thy Faithfulness, O God my Father … morning by morning new mercies I see,"* thinking about the lyrics and what they say about God and how He relates to our lives.

2. We ponder the aspects of God we don't understand: "Immortal, invisible, God only wise. In light inaccessible, hid from our eyes..."**

3. We reason these things through. We ask, how might God's faithfulness, immortality, and hiddeness play out in my life?

4. We learn how to live in new praise-filled ways: "Take my hands … feet … voice … lips … silver and gold … Take my intellect and use every power as Thou shalt choose." ***

5. We conclude as we sing along, saying 'yes' to God with our mindful participation, in some cases singing the words with more faith than sight: "Take my will and make it Thine—It shall be no longer mine; Take my heart—it is Thine own, It shall be Thy royal throne."***

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to praise You with understanding. Alert me to times when my mind wanders. My my praise in song give You glory, honour, and pleasure. Amen.

MORE: Frances Ridley Havergal

The powerful hymn "Take My Life and Let It Be" was written by Frances Ridley Havergal in 1874. In his book about the world's great hymns, Robert Morgan tells this story about the writing of this hymn.

"Although hymnist Frances Havergal, 36, had served the Lord for years, she felt something was missing in her Christian experience. Then one day in 1873, she received a little book called "All for Jesus" which stressed the importance of making Christ the King of every corner and cubicle of one's life. Soon thereafter she made a fresh and complete consecration of herself to Christ.

Years later when asked about it, she replied, 'Yes, it was on Advent Sunday, December 2, 1873, I first saw clearly the blessedness of true consecration. I saw it as a flash of electric light, and what you see you can never un-see. There must be full surrender before then can be full blessedness" - Robert J. Morgan, Then Sings My Soul, p. 191.

* quoted from  "Great is They Faithfulness"  by Thomas Obediah Chisholm (1923).
Hear it sung by Chris Rice.

 ** quoted from  "Immortal Invisible" by Walter Chalmers Smith (1876).
It is sung here by an unnamed choir.

*** quoted from "Take my Life and Let it Be" by Frances Ridley Havergal (1874).
Listen to it sung by Brian Doerksen.


The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.
Bible Drive-Thru

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