The Psalms and Contemporary Worship

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(Author’s Note:  This is the script for a video produced in August of 2021 as an addition to a Christian Education lesson)

I want to speak to the joy of worship. In the book of Psalms, the call to worship is a call to creativity and celebration. The commands to joyfully praise and worship God are too numerous to list.  Here is a brief attempt:

  • Ps 100 says “Come before His presence with joyful songs.” This lines up perfectly with the NT where it says to, “rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.”
  • Ps 147 says “How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!”
  • Ps 50:2 speaks of Zion meaning the throne room of God in heaven, saying “Out of Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.” The worship of the church should try to rise to this level of beauty. Those who are gifted in the arts are likewise summoned to create beauty in His name as a reflection of the beauty of His creation.
  • Ps 33:1-3 says “Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” Skill and joy are commanded.

Joyful artistry is the wonderful theme of the Book of Psalms.

In truth, every emotion that emanates from the human heart is represented in the Book of Psalms.  While all these topics may not fit into a public worship service, they are all genuine modes of prayer from the lament to the Hallelujah! With these songs, we have a powerful, all-purpose worship repertoire when it is time:

  • to weep or to rejoice,
  • to mourn or to celebrate,
  • to be still or to dance,
  • to be silent or to shout.

There is the

  • work song and the song of rest,
  • the reveille and the lullaby,
  • the march to war and the anthem of peace.

The Psaltery is the New Covenant hymnal and we do well to use it in our modern post-modern worship.  Think of it, when Jesus was a babe in the manger, these songs had already been in use for 1000 years!  Miraculously, they are new again when we sing them today.

Dr. Stephen Phifer

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The Psalms and Contemporary Worship

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