Psalm 33:1-3 (ESV)
1 Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
2 Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
What a neat call to worship is found here in Psalm 33. Those who are righteous are called by God to shout, sing, and play skillfully on strings for the glory of the Lord.
We would do well to remember, first, that none of us is righteous on our own. We would be excluded from this call were it simply our own goodness being measured. However, the Bible teaches us of imputed righteousness. Jesus grants to us his righteousness at the moment of our conversion. Thus God sees us as righteous. This, of course means, that we are now called to praise the Lord as the Psalm depicts.
Both in verse 1 and verse 3, there is a call to shout for joy. I’m not going to argue that this means that our worship services should sound like the cheering of a professional sporting event. However, I will argue that this means there should be a welling up of joy in the hearts of believers that should burst forth from time to time as we consider the Lord and his grace. He is good. The rest of the psalm talks of how God has created all things and how he rules over the nations. God is mighty and magnificent. He is certainly worth our shouting for joy.
The call also is present for us to sing new songs of God’s glory. This is a good reminder. I am one who is given to loving the hymns of the past, especially those high-church hymns, deep in theology, of several centuries ago. But that is certainly not all there is. There should be something about our experience with the Lord that leads us to desire to compose and sing new pieces of music for his glory. We should want to learn new ways to express God’s greatness.
Also present is the call to play skillfully on stringed instruments. I don’t think that this is about the particular instrument in question. Guitars, pianos, organs, keyboards, Chellos, wind instruments, and percussion can all be used to bring glory to the Lord. What I think is key here is the call to play skillfully. God calls those of us who would lead in worship to work on our craft. We should not be sloppy. We should not take this call lightly. We are called to work on playing, to practice and practice, and to strive to master the skillful playing of our instruments so that God will be honored. We want to show his greatness partly through the commitment we have to play his music well. This does not mean that we have to be come professional, virtuoso musicians. However, we owe it to God to play music to his glory and to play that music to the very best of the abilities he has given us.
The call in this psalm is beautiful. It is a call to joyful, musical praise of the Lord. Let us be a people who shout, sing, and play in such a way to declare to the nations that our God is truly wonderful, powerful, glorious, and worthy.