Daily Devotions

Sing a Little Louder

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"Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob. Raise a song, sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp. Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our festal day." (Ps. 81:1-3)

 

Finally, after so many Psalms with fear inducing, angry diatribes, it is so nice to read one with enthusiasm and joy. Psalm 81 begins as a song of praise. It was written to encourage the people to sing along. You ever put on your favorite album and, with no one around, just sing at the top of your lungs? No? Well, you are missing out. If you don't know what to sing, like Wayne and Garth (Wayne's World fame), I highly recommend Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."

 

The tambourine, lyre, and harp were traditional festival instruments. The trumpet signaled the beginning of a festal day, but according to The New Interpreter's Bible commentary "a trumpet blast was also the way to greet a king, either human or divine." In worship we acknowledge that the divine Ruler of heaven and earth is in our midst.

 

Abraham Heschel, the great 20th century Jewish theologian and philosopher affirms, "Yahweh is not a God of abstract absoluteness, who holds himself aloof from the world." God is involved in our lives, and that commitment begins in worship. Music is a physical expression of our joy in God's presence and care.

 

Spirituality doesn't always have to be serious or meditative in the traditional sense. God wants to share every part of our lives, including the joyous times. Today, find a few minutes to sing. It can be a great spiritual that lifts your soul. It could also be a secular song that really gets your heart beating, and your foot stomping. You could let'r rip in the car or be a cliche, and sing in the shower. Just sing with reckless abandon.

 

If you are one of the four percent of people who are tone deaf, dance. And just as the Bible calls us to make a joyful noise, you dancers need to joyfully dance with such excitement, it boarders on dangerous. I guarantee you will feel better, and at the very least, God will get a good laugh. Enjoy!  

Refrain

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"Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved." (Ps. 80:3)

 

This Psalm is another communal lament. Yet, Psalm 80 does not wallow in despair. This is the first Psalm with a refrain, of which verse 3 is the first example. While the people are in pain, they are unwilling to give up on God's power and compassion to restore and save. The brilliant use of the refrain, forces the reader to return to hope, time-and-again, not allowing the reader to become too negative for very long.

 

The refrain begins with a plea, "Restore us." Literally, "restore us," is translated from the Hebrew, "cause us to return." "Cause us to return" could have several types of meaning. It has been used in other places to describe a return from exile. The word has also denoted "repentance." The word in this context, has meant "causing people to return" to God. The New Interpreter's Bible commentary offers an even more beautiful and demanding description, "causing persons to return to life."

 

The calamities of life can slowly, relentlessly drive us away from joy, and in time, away from any real feelings at all. The psalmist is engaging in a difficult battle for her/his very soul. Most people do not lose their soul in one monumental moment, by handing it over to the devil at the crossroads. For most, the soul slowly dissolves, getting smaller, with each new bitterness and cynical response, until one day, it dissolves to nothingness.

 

Like the psalmist, we are in a battle for our very souls. We are in a struggle to "return to life." Just as the soul is not lost in a day, neither is a soul reborn in a day. Restoration requires disciplined prayer and devotional time. In your prayer today, honestly share your frustrations with God. Spill it, and trust God to take it. Offer a verse of frustration, then offer a refrain of "Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved." Then offer another verse of anger, then say the refrain again, then offer a verse of anxiety, then the refrain. Pray the verse/refrain over and over until you are tired, you are out of words. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually spent, let God save you, as the refrain has promised.

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