Clap Your Hands!
I’m not the most happy-clappy guy when it comes to our singing. That’s not because I don’t want to be, but I was born with a birth defect (not having rhythm or the ability to sing and clap and the same time). We do several songs where we clap on the rest, and I can do that. Otherwise, I’m really better off just singing. But I sit up front facing the church during the first 2-3 songs; it would look like I’m not engaged if I just sat there. So I focus in on Richard or Kati and follow their lead, and I clap. And then it looks like I’m leading the clapping! That’s as close as I’m going to get to ever leading worship. Our reading for today from Psalm 47 is one of the happy-clappy verses we sometimes use as a call to worship… right before singing “Clap Your Hands.” (so we’re not supper creative). Psalm 47 begins with, “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.” And it continues this call to worship God without reservation—
God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.
Because God is on the throne and rules over all the earth, we are to come before him with joy and praise. The psalmist already listed some of the things that should bring Israel joy— He subdued the nations and chose Israel to be His inheritance (47:3-4). Because God reigns over all the earth and because God had been so very good to His people, the psalmist calls worshipers to praise God with everything they have—heart, mind and body. Clap your hands, all ye people!
Of course, that’s just the Old Testament. We don’t do that today,; we are rather now called to worship “decently and in order.” That means we are to sit there with a dour expression, not moving our lips any more than we absolutely must… and we certainly don’t move anything else. No one ever teaches us that, of course, but that’s what many of us do (remember, I sit up front).
Is God not still king of all the earth? Has he not blessed us with many good things— like defeating the powers of evil and making us His inheritance. How dare we go through the motions of worship without letting it flow from our hearts and to our hearts… and even to our hands. The psalmist says that God has “God has ascended amid shouts of joy?” Who is doing all that shouting for joy? Are we leaving that to the angels? Or are we adding our joyful praise as well?
Clap your hands, all ye people!
Picture by Virada Sustentável Some Rights Reserved