Believing praise (Psalm 106:12)

Christians are a singing people because they are a believing people:

Then they believed his word;
They sang his praise (Psalm 106:12)

A professional singer may be able to sing oratorios with technical perfection without believing a word that is sung. But such singing is not praise. Praise can only be produced by believers.

That is not to decry effort on the part of believers to sing well, tunefully, accurately, and according to the music. John Wesley’s advice to those who would week to sing his hymns is surely appropriate. How can we praise God “according to his excellent greatness” (Ps 150:2) if we do not seek to do it with excellence ourselves? Sloppy praise is a contradiction in terms.

But true praise is never a performance, nor simply emotion and feelings. It is an expression of belief, not feeling. It therefore must have content, expressed coherently and with meaning. Christians do not chant meaningless mantras interminably; they sing Almighty God’s praises.

Such an awesome task demands that we consider carefully and creatively how we may express the inexpressible. To resort to meaningless mumbo jumbo is not an option—it is not worthy of the one whose glory we seek to express in our praises. What kind of a response is it to mumble meaninglessly when he has spoken clearly and meaningfully?

And yet believing praise will not be dispassionate and devoid of emotion or feeling. Psalm 106 takes the Exodus as its focal point for meditation. Who could say the song of Moses and the people of Israel in Ex 15 was devoid of emotion or feeling?

Praise involves a delicate balance and blend of excellence in word and music, and heartfelt expression of godly emotion and feeling. No wonder the psalmists prays that the word of his mount and the meditation of his heart may be acceptable in God’s sight (Ps 19:14).

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