I love to sing.
But I seriously can’t sing.
What I imagine in my mind doesn’t match the reality of flatness and off key-ness that squeaks, drags, and drones it’s way from my vocal cords. But I do love to worship. A long time ago I realized that whatever I was currently experiencing in life in no way changes who God is. The latest woeful development in my week and God’s being in control could co-exist. God is still good, even if my mood isn’t. And so that has freed me to worship freely. Thankfully, for those sitting nearby, God has provided a worship team to sing along with, my voice safely camoflauged.
Psalm 96 is all about praising God. It’s like a primer on praise. It calls everyone into worship -. all peoples, all nations. And it calls us to more than just singing, though that is included. There’s also a lot of telling, proclaiming, and recognizing involved.
But verses 11 and 12 of Psalm 96 are a particular twist on our usual concepts of worship:
Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!
Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
Let the trees of the forest sing for joy
This part of the psalm describes inanimate parts of creation praising God. In the psalmist’s creative mind, the seas shout, the trees rustle with praise, crops and fields produce joy. All of these things are doing what they’re created to do. The ocean surface moves in response to winds and the tides. Fields respond to the wind, bending so that they don’t break under the force of air currents. So do trees. Cultivated plants grow and produce food. When crops burst is it with grains and seeds - or is it with joy? Trees move their leaves and branches in the wind, and the pslamist declares it praise. Each of these things is responding to its environment in the way that it’s meant to.
I wonder if we can extend that same principle to ourselves by praising God with our lives when we live as we’re supposed to. Not to an impossible level of perfection, but with heaps of grace. Not dogmatically, but by receiving and giving mercy.
We bring honor to God when we live this way.
Worship goes beyond singing in church. Psalm 96 encourages us to take worship and make it part of our environment. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.
The natural world is doing its part - let’s join in.