I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:6)
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! (Psalm 95:1)
Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. (Psalm 96:1-2)
Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. (Psalm 98:1-2)
I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. (Psalm 104:33)
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! (Psalm 147:7)
Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! (Psalm 149:1)
Notice a theme? Time after time in the Psalms, we’re commanded to sing to the Lord. This is important for several reasons.
First, notice that we’re commanded to sing. Singing isn’t merely encouraged in scripture – it’s commanded. God’s people are to be a singing people, a musical people, and a noisy people.
Second, in case you missed it, our singing is to be directed God-ward.
But this isn’t always so easy:
We get distracted
If you’ve seen the movie “Up”, you’ll remember the scene when the talking dog, Dug, is in the middle of talking to Carl, when he’s distracted and suddenly blurts out “squirrel!” Oh, how often we get distracted by the squirrels when we’re in the middle of singing to the Lord.
We get self-conscious
Yes, we’re commanded to sing corporately (“…in the assembly of the godly”), and our singing has the effect of “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16), but each one of us is individually called to direct our singing to the Lord. So pay attention and enjoy the people around you, but at the same time ignore them. You’re not singing for them or to them.
We forget we need Jesus
There is not a single second when an astronaut, performing a space walk, is not completely dependent on the perfect integrity of his space suit. Without it, he’s hopeless on his own. Similarly, there is not a single word we can sing to the Lord without being completely dependent on Jesus Christ, our mediator, our great high priest, and our way to the Father.
C.J. Mahaney phrased it this way at the 2009 Sovereign Grace Worship Conference:
“…we must never leave the impression during corporate worship that we do not need a mediator. There isn’t a moment where I don’t need a mediator. In light of the Father’s holiness and my sinfulness, I cannot approach him directly apart from Christ.”
When we gather to sing to the Lord, we can only do so because of and through Jesus.
We think our voice isn’t good enough
Each member of the body of Christ is gifted in different ways. This is how God arranges it (1 Corinthians 13:3 says “God arranged the members of the body, each one of them, as he chose…”). Some are more gifted singers than others. Some are trained. Some are tone deaf. But God wants us all to sing to him. This is comforting and encouraging to all of the average singers among us, and should be humbling to those who are more gifted.
We think it’s just singing words
David said in Psalm 108:3: “My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being!”
When we sing, we’re not only supposed to articulate praise with our lips, or make melody with our vocal chords – but “sing and make melody with all (our) being!” Does our singing look like that? If not, we have some growing to do.
So the next time you sing, sing to the Lord, with eyes fixed on him, a heart grateful for Jesus, and a voice raised unashamed. And ignore the squirrels too.