Psalm 69:30-31 I will praise God’s name in song
and glorify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an ox,
more than a bull with its horns and hoofs.
This is a clear statement of what the writer of Hebrews calls “the sacrifice of praise.” (Hebrews 13:15) Music doesn’t have to be involved, but it frankly makes it much easier. We have no idea when God first gave the gift of music to mankind, because musical notation came along much later. There are actually many forms of musical notation that survive even today. They are certainly niche items at this point, such as the way music is written for the shakuhachi, the Japanese vertical flute, including indications not only for which note to play but also how to make the sound “wobble,” but they give us hints as to how music might have been written thousands of years ago. I would love to hear how David sang his Psalms, but I’ll have to wait for heaven for that! The important thing, which we do have through the lyrics that are left to us, is the focus on God. Sometimes that focus isn’t easy to achieve, and requires a very definite act of the will. In the verse ahead of this David says, “I am in pain and distress.” That’s why it’s a sacrifice of praise. When we’re feeling good and blessed, praise is no sacrifice at all! The sacrifice of praise is powerful indeed. Over 50 years ago I knew a man who was born and raised in Hiroshima. He was a young teenager in the closing days of WWII, and had been sent out of the city to do agricultural day work because food was in short supply, saving his life when the atomic bomb was dropped. He managed to walk back to the city after the bomb, and with difficulty located where his home had been, and he realized that none of his family could have survived. He wandered the city in a daze, thinking not about whether to commit suicide, but how to commit suicide, since he could see no hope whatsoever for himself. As he walked he heard singing, and in great amazement that anyone could sing in such devastation he found a damaged but still standing church, and people inside were holding a service. Long story short, they told him about the hope they had in Christ, and he too believed. At the point that I knew him, he was a deeply joyful, jovial even, administrator of a Christian school. He died of leukemia, almost certainly as a result of his radiation exposure, but there was a smile on his face even in the middle of his suffering. He had indeed learned the sacrifice of praise.
I have been blessed to know many of God’s saints, like the man I just mentioned. I could tell stories about them all day! I have learned, as they did, the incredible blessing of praising God. As I started my devotional time this morning my mind was greatly distracted, so I stopped everything and just sang to God. That did the trick! Right now there are many distractions because the spiritual warfare is pretty intense, but there are many blessings as well. Yesterday at the gallery show the Lord brought many people with whom we could share the love of God in various ways, and I have assurance that He will continue to do that through the remaining time. I am to choose to praise Him continually, in my heart even when not vocally, trusting that His plans are always for my blessing and His glory.
Father, thank You for this strong reminder. All sorts of things are pressing on us at this point. As I tell others all the time, help me keep my eyes on You rather than on the issues, and give You the sacrifice of praise regardless of what is going on in the natural, so that Your name may be acknowledged as holy and Your kingdom come as Your will is done, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!