Friday, August 17, 2007

The Mixed-Up Worship Songbook of God

"Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you.
"But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
"For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield." (Psalm 5: 10-12)

I chose this verse simply because I appreciate that the ancient songbook (the book of Psalms) understands that songs used in worship went beyond just simple adoration and "good feeling" songs. If you read the book of Psalms with an open mind, you will quickly find songs dealing with praise and adoration, but not only that. You'll just as quickly also discover songs filled with repentance and regret and sadness. And it gets worse. You'll also find songs demanding retribution against enemies, songs expressing doubt about why the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer, and songs about fond memories of being able to worship freely that were written during the Jewish captivity.

Why is this important to me? For me, this knowledge enhances my experience of worship. It means I can worship in doubt and misunderstanding, as well as in joy and praise. It means that worship songs don't always have to be upbeat and happy. It means that when God demands that we worship him in spirit and in truth, he means it.

Sure, our modern, contemporary take on worship likes to highlight the adoration and praise elements, but if we are going to worship in the way that scripture's songbook guides us, we will have to be sure that our definition of "worship music" is always open to be changed by the truth of God.

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