Sing To The Lord - Psalm 147 (A Short Homily for Hymn Sing Sunday)

Joe's wife likes to sing. She decided to join a singing group at church. From time to time she would practice while she was in the kitchen preparing dinner. Whenever she would start in on a song, Joe would head outside to the porch.
His wife, with hurt feelings, said, "What's the matter, Joe? Don't you like my singing?" 
Joe replied, "Honey, I love your singing, but I just want to make sure the neighbors know I'm not hurting you."

Joe’s wife loved to sing…nothing was going to stop her from singing God’s praise.  Even her apparent deficit in singing talent did not dissuade her.  My question is, what keeps us from singing?  I’m not going to pull any punches this morning, the truth is, it is easy to stand up in the pulpit and look over the congregation as we are singing, and see many people not singing.  Why is that, why are we not all offering up our voices to God in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving as we sing?

One reason often stands out, and it is because someone like Joe has said something to us.
“Preacher, someone in my family, or somebody in the pew next to me, told me that I need to be quiet if I couldn’t sing any better than that.”  It may not even take someone sitting telling us, we may realize that we are not skilled singers.  We live in the days of American Idol, America’s Next Big Star, and The X Factor.  We live in an age where are constantly bombarded with folks with exceptional singing talent, who are singing for the approval of their neighbors, the judges, and all of the country.  Many of us know we couldn’t compare (though there may be a few of us who could), and so we stand quietly and refuse to sing.  The problem is, my friends, this is not an American Idol stage.  We are not singing in hopes of getting a record contract one day.  We are not singing in order to get votes from folks around the country or just to be seen on national television.  We are not singing for the approval of our neighbors, or even the folks in the pews around us.  When we are here singing, as the Psalmist puts it:  “Praise the Lord!  How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting…Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving…Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!  Praise your God, O Zion…Praise the Lord!”

It is not about singing for the praise of others, but it is about singing our praises to God.  From the song of Miriam and Moses on God’s delivering them out of Egypt to the songs of Psalms to the song of Mary upon learning she will give birth to the Messiah to the songs of the saints and the angels in Revelation, God’s Word is filled with one example after another of folks singing to God, for God, and not for public fame.  Why are they singing praises to God?  Because of what God has done for them…for the ways He has protected, delivered, and/or blessed them.  In our Psalm today it calls for singing for the Lord because: “The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.  He heals the brokenhearted, and bids up their wounds.  He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all them their names…The Lord lifts up the downtrodden; he casts the wicked to the ground…He covers the heavens with clouds, prepares rain for the earth, makes grass grow in the hills.  He gives to the animals their food, and to the young ravens when they cry…he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you.  He grants peace within your boarders; he fills you with the finest of wheat…He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes….”  Take your pick out of the many things the Lord has done for His people.  Above them all stands the fact that our “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosover believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”[i]  God has given us not only our very existence, but the gift of being able to forever live in His presence…He has offered us the forgiveness of our sins and the promise of eternal life…as a free gift of grace, through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ.”

This is why we sing to the Lord, because of what He has done for us.  As we examine our lives, and see the many ways in which God has blessed us, including the gift of Jesus, our hearts ought to be filled with such joy that we fill like contemporary artist Chris Tomlin when he sings:  “How can I keep from singing Your praise/How can I ever say enough/How amazing is Your love/How can I keep from shouting Your name/I know I am loved by the King/And it makes my heart want to sing.”

God is not looking for the next American Idol… “His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner…the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope it is steadfast love.”  God’s pleasure comes from the voices of those who, regardless of their gift and talent for singing, come before Him out of sheer gratitude and offer their hearts and voices, not to others, but who sing for Him.

My brothers and sisters, as we continue our hymn sing this morning, let there not be one silent voice, because we are not singing for Joe, we are singing to the Lord.
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

[i] John 3:16


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