1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. 2 Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. 3 Sing to him a new song; play skilfully, and shout for joy.
This psalm takes off where the last one, psalm 32, ended by encouraging praise for God and that should be the preoccupation of his people. Worship should be a lifelong activity and one which fills every aspect of life; what we think and say, what we do and how we treat others even our attitudes. As one hymn puts it.... “Fill Thou my life, O Lord my God, in every part with praise, that my whole being may proclaim Thy being and Thy ways.”
This psalm though is not speaking about worship in the whole of life but particularly, I think, our praise in song when we come together since that seems to be the background of the psalm. Singing may not be everyone forte, not everyone enjoys it but verse one declares it a fitting activity for God’s people and verse 3 tells us what the marks of that praise should be. Firstly our relationship with Jesus should cause our hearts to overflow with new expressions of praise, or new songs, as the psalmist puts it. Secondly what we offer to Jesus by way of praise should not just be thrown together but played as skilfully as we can. We should offer our best efforts in praise to him. That struck me a few years ago in an unexpected way when listening to, of all people Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing “The little Drummer Boy.... ”I played my drum for Him pa-rum pum pum pum I played my best for Him pa-rum pum pum pum” and it dawned on me that we should only be content when we have offered our very best in praise of Jesus. Then the last characteristic of Christian praise should be to sing aloud for joy. I’m not a lover of team sports in the way some are but still, it amazes me how some Christians on a Saturday afternoon can sing their heart out with joy because their team is winning, not minding what kind of musical sounds come from their mouths but stand the following day in church with lips barely moving as others around them sing God’s praise. Surely our Saviour is worthy of much more, more in fact than we can give but all we offer in spirit and truth with joy is blessed by God the Holy Spirit whose work it is to glorify the name of Jesus.