Christians are to be different. Do any of us really think otherwise? Our lives are to be marked by morals, beliefs, ceremonies, and patterns that are simply not the same as the rest of the world. Christianity has never been a thing to simply add on to a normal and worldly life. Christianity brings a transformative salvation that changes us from our hearts outward.
We are going to be different in many ways. This has been true from Old to New Testament. And one of the clearest differences for the people of God was found in the Sabbath command. Unlike the nations around Israel, the people of God were to take Saturday off work. While neighboring nations pressed on, Israel would rest and honor the Lord. Israel would rest and lovingly allow her servants to rest. Israel would rest, and would depict the coming rest from man-centered attempts to earn our way to God that is fulfilled in the salvation completed for us in Christ.
I’m not a Sabbatarian. I do not believe that the Christian is required to fulfill a particular type of Sabbath regulation. Yet, I do understand that the Lord’s Day, that Sunday, is a day that is special in the Christian world. Our Sundays should make us look different from the world. This is not so much because we are required to follow a particular rule (though forsaking assembly is a sin), but because we love our Lord and center our lives around his glory.
Why the Sabbath talk? Interestingly, it hit me from the superscription of Psalm 92. Take a look at that and the first couple verses.
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.
1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2 to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
3 to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
This Psalm declares itself to be a psalm, a teaching and worshipful song or prayer, that is particularly appropriate for use on the Sabbath. And so we have to imagine the Hebrew family, on a Friday night or Saturday morning, after family work has shut down for the day, singing this psalm and learning from it what to do. No more work and no more worldly worries are allowed at this point. It is time to focus on the Lord. It is time to rest. It is time to sing.
Singing the praise of God is good. Remembering how the Lord has cared for his own and how he does justice in all things is important. Singing of the future promises of God matters. Singing of the perfections of God is right. Singing of the goodness of God is obvious. These are things that the Hebrews were to do on the Sabbath.
In the Christian world, the New Testament culture, these are good words for us too. There ought to be in our week a day that is different. There ought to be a time that is sacred. There ought to be an embrace of songs of truth and glory. There ought to be time set aside for us to stop chasing after money and fearing for provision. Instead, there ought to be a time when we gather together with the people of God, hear the word of God, participate in acts of worship like Lord’s Supper, and, yes, sing.
What does doing things like this do? When we take that time away to gather, pray, fellowship, worship, learn, and sing, when we stop everything and make worship a priority, we demonstrate a pattern in our lives that is focused on God and his glory. Yes, we pattern a life of six days at work and one day off just as God did in creation. Even more, we pattern a trust in the Lord that he will take care of us even if we do not force ourselves into the office for 7 days without rest. When we gather to sing, we look weird to the world. Nobody else other than the religious stop life to get together and have a sing-along every week. There is something different about who we are and what we do. There is something that ought to make our neighbors think our life choices are weird. When people get out of bed on their day off, dress their kids, and then take their families to a place where an hour or two are spent in contemplation of an ancient text, they look odd. When they stand side-by-side with people of different skin colors, different personalities, different economic levels, different ages, and somehow still all sing the same songs of the God who made us and whose Son rescued us by dying for our sins, we are doing something utterly radical.
Psalm 92 reminds us that it is good to stop life and sing of the glory of God. It reminds us that, when we stop life and worship, we can recall the faithfulness of God. It reminds us that we live for more than what the rest of the world lives for from Monday to Saturday. It reminds us that stopping life and praising God is good and a proper mark of the lives of all who truly know the Lord.