Coming out of the Advent/Christmas season where we pause to enjoy so many of the rich, traditional hymns of that season, we enter into the New Year and return to the regular worship of singing the Psalms.
For most of us, Psalm-singing is not something tied to our past and it certainly is not as easy as singing the poetic verses of Christmastide. The Psalms are full of biting language, imagery that is not as familiar, often raising more questions than answers to the newly initiated. That is because Psalm-singing is work – a lot of work. And that is because worship is work. It is an activity that should leave you tired when you are finished. You have been called to offer up yourselves as living sacrifices and to offer up the sacrifice of praise. You have not been called to come and get comfortable and cozy and enjoy some inspiring entertainment for you and your soul.
So why does God call us to sing the Psalms? This is His songbook. These are His first choices. These are the songs that sing of His victories and the great victory of His Son – but they do so in prophetic ways and not always in straightforward ways. In the midst of the songs every human emotion, every life situation, every outburst of praise and every cry of despair can be found – and the Lord wants all of that brought to Him and to His throne.
In singing the Psalms we sing of Christ and we do so as the body of Christ. We sing to God and we sing to one another. We train and equip, teach and admonish, lift up and redirect the body of Christ, the church, as we do this work of worship. When that happens, we are then trained to write and sing other songs that imitate what God has written – and what God loves to hear His people sing. And after all, He is the focus, the center, the reason that this worship service is taking place. Come and worship the Lord.