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.
I think the secret to David’s relationship with God was the fact that he learned to sing praise to God as a shepherd boy out on the hills. The sense of intimacy gained by that profoundly shaped him, even after he strayed so severely with Bathsheba. In those days the usual concept of “pleasing God,” or, the gods, was offering animal sacrifices. David discovered that Yahweh is personal and not far off, and loves a good song. It seems unlikely that David’s tunes were what we would call “musically sophisticated,” given the limitations of the lyre that was his instrument, but they were certainly heartfelt, and God delighted in them. David’s lyrics, as recorded in Psalms, show his heart, and that was the main thing. Even today we tend to default to systems and rituals in an effort to please God, when He is still most interested in our hearts. In the Upper Room before His crucifixion, Jesus talked about, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23) James, who came to know that his big brother Jesus was really the Messiah only after the resurrection, put it this way: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27) When we get caught up in religious systems we all too easily forget the One whom we say we worship. Sunday morning attendance can be a huge blessing and a powerful encouragement to living through the week in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, but by itself it’s no guarantee of pleasing God. Legalism isn’t His bag, but throwing everything out in an effort to escape legalism is a horrible trap as well. God wants an intimacy with us that can’t be understood without experiencing it to at least some degree, and far and away the easiest way to taste that intimacy is through praise and worship. As David said, that really pleases Him.
I honestly have no empathy with those who are genuinely unmusical – and I have met a few. I have some trouble relating to them. My musical heritage is of great value to me, as I know it is to my daughters as well. At the same time, I know that music itself is never to be a substitute for a genuine relationship with God, and for some people it becomes that. There have been very gifted musicians who never acknowledged the One who gave them that gift, and so never used it to praise Him. The Beatles immediately come to mind. The tools are never the issue; it’s always the heart that uses those tools. I am to keep my heart fixed on my Lord, using everything He has placed in my hands and heart as He desires, for His pleasure and glory and not for the sake of my ego. That applies to my gift for words as well, and not just music. My life is to be a praise to Him.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the song translation You gave me as I was walking yesterday morning. Guide me in getting the music, and then the lyrics, into the computer so that it will be available to help others worship You. Thank You for the example of Keith Green, the original author and composer of that song. May I be no less sold out to You than he was, so that my example may draw others into intimacy with You as well, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!