When we have a fifth Lord’s Day in a month – usually four times a year – our regular evening service is held as a Praise Service. The elders take it in turns to lead the service. Our most recent Praise Service was held on Lord’s Day 29th September, and the service was led by Joshua Feldman, one of our ruling elders.
Typically the service follows a theme, such as Psalms about the King, or The Fruit of the Spirit in the Psalms, or the Life of David in the Psalms. The theme of our most recent Praise Service was How do I sing that Psalm? After the call to worship and opening praise and prayer Joshua listed several Psalms which raise difficult questions for those who sing them for the first time. How can we sing that our walk has been blameless? How can we sing about the destruction of the wicked? How can we sing about the experience of violent persecution when we have never experienced it?
Drawing on Michael Lefebre’s book, Singing the Songs of the King, Joshua set out several principles to help us understand what we sing when we sing Psalms.
1. The Psalms were written either by the Lord’s anointed King, or under the oversight of the King. Thus, the King leads the praise of God’s people.
2. The Psalms record a series of conversation between the King, and his people and their covenant Lord. It helps us to sing with understanding when we consider who is speaking, an who is being spoken to.
These principles were illustrated from Psalm 118, which was read and sung. It was encouraging to realise that as we sing the final verses of this Psalm we acknowledge God as our God and our provider (v.28); as well as encouraging each other to give thanks to the Lord (v.29).
Another Psalm we sung was Psalm 26, which begins with these words: “Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.” Would we be so bold as to make this claim? We know that the Lord Jesus could sing these words. David also sang these words, and we, too, should be able to say and sing them. If they prick our conscience that is a good thing as it brings us to our knees in repentance, as we seek forgiveness and renewal. The hard Psalms are also good Psalms for us to sing!