“Sing to the Lord!” Psalm 111

Christmas 1 “Sing to the Lord!”
December 27th, 2020 – Psalm 111:1

May you receive from God Christmas joy by the forgiveness of your sins through Jesus Christ our newborn Lord and Saviour.

Today is our traditional “carol service.” Normally, the pastor would be gone, and you would be gathering for worship with an extra emphasis on singing the repertoire of Christmas Carols in our hymnal.

Today we still have an extra emphasis on singing. I hope you are taking the opportunity to sing along at home, too! Let me repeat that, “I hope you are singing along at home, too!”

“I’m not a singer” you may say. “I feel awkward bursting out into song while my kids are in the next room eating breakfast.” “My building’s pretty quiet and I don’t want to have somebody call in a noise complaint on me for all the racket.” Whatever is holding you back, if you are not singing along, put that aside for today. Let us take a little look at why we sing for church and perhaps that will encourage you to sing louder than you normally do or to join in and sing!

Psalm 98 says, “Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvellous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made known his salvation;
    he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
    to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
    the salvation of our God.”

Why is this verse telling us we should sing? This verse is telling us we should sing to the Lord! Why should we sing to the Lord? Because he has done marvellous things. What are the marvellous things God has done? He has worked salvation, revealed his righteousness to everyone, remembered His steadfast love and faithfulness to His people. He has done all of this through Jesus. At Christmas we see God beginning His plan of saving people from their judgement. We see God opening His rescue plan for every single nation and race. The foreigner Wisemen coming to worship Him are a testament to that! God has not abandoned you because of your sin. He is faithful to the promise to rescue you. A promise you do not deserve. A promise which is a gift.

So, why are we to sing? We sing to God because of all He has done for us.

Psalm 98 continues, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
    break forth into joyous song and sing praises!”

“A joyful noise to the Lord.” We use this as a common excuse and encouragement when we are insecure about the sound of our voice. Psalm 100 says a similar thing, “Make a joyful noise to the LORD” What is the qualification of the kind of singing we are to make? Does God say it must be on-pitch? Does He say it has to be perfectly melodic? Does He talk about wanting only “good singers” to sing to Him? No! It is a JOYFUL NOISE! In fact, the volume and the posture of the heart almost seem most important! 

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
 Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!”

But, here again, in Psalm 100, why are we to sing to Him?

“For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.”

We sing because of what He has done for us. We sing because of all He has done.
Is singing to Him a command? Are we ordered to do it? Is it a law? A condition of His love for us?

Let us put it this way. It is like telling someone who loves cake, “eat the cake!” It is like saying to someone who just won the lottery, “tell somebody what just happened!” It is like saying to someone newly engaged, “announce the good news to your friends and family!”

Singing to God because of all He has done for us is something we would want to do anyway as recipients of His love! It is a form of expressing what God’s love for us in Jesus makes us feel. Not only is it an artful expression to God of what is inside us (if that’s a little too artsy-fartsy for you think of it this way) it is also a way of confessing what we believe. Christian Christmas music on the radio in the stores is a beautiful confession of Jesus to everyone who hears. Think about the words of O Holy Night for example:

“O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

What a beautiful confession of our faith! Of the acknowledgement of our sin and the hope Jesus brings.

O Holy Night is originally a French hymn. The closing words literally translate to:

“Who will tell Him our gratitude?
It is for all of us the He is born.
May He suffer and die.
People standing, sing your deliverance.
Noel, Noel! (which means, ‘Christmas! Christmas!’)
Sing the Redeemer!
Christmas! Christmas!
Sing the Redeemer!”

“Who will tell Him of our gratitude?” That is what we do in singing. We tell Him. We tell others. We sing as God created us to. We sing from our hearts. We sing with our minds in a bold confession of our faith in Jesus.
We sing as people God has gathered together on Sunday morning. Gathered by the Holy Spirit Himself to be renewed in God’s Words (Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Psalm 111:2) and to express with all the faithful our gratitude for God.

As our Psalm for today (Psalm 111) says,
“Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
    in the company of the upright, in the congregation.”

Singing is a community thing. When we, as Psalm 100 says, “come into His presence” we do it in thanksgiving and with singing. When we gather as a congregation, we speak together and sing together as one voice. Psalm 133 says “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in harmony!”

If you are still not convinced about singing, if your insecurities are getting in the way, look to Jesus Himself. The Gospel of Mark Chapter 14 verse 26 tells us that, after Jesus established Holy Communion, they sang a hymn! Jesus, God Himself, even sung.

They would have likely sung a Psalm. The whole of the Psalter, the Psalms, were to be sung! The Psalms give substance to what they sang so that they were focused on God and what He has done and would do. Israel sang to God for thousands of years before Jesus. And we, thousands of years after, still sing songs to God. Not out of compulsion, but because it is what we do. That is why we have not stopped all year. We do it under God’s direction but also because of God’s love for us. We sing today, again, reminding ourselves of Jesus coming to us, and also reminding, and thanking, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for their goodness toward us throughout the ages.

We sing because of what Psalm 111 says:

“Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
    in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
    studied by all who delight in them.
Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
    and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
    the Lord is gracious and merciful.
    … His praise endures forever!”

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever.
Amen.

Let us sing!

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