Why Sing?

by Wayne S. Walker

"I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations" (Psalm 57:9). The Hebrew name for the book of Psalms is "Tehellim" meaning "praises." Our English word "psalm," which translates the Hebrew word "mizmor," comes from the Greek term "psalmos" and refers to a poem that is intended to be sung. The book of Psalms has often been called the Hebrews' hymnbook. At one time, among English speaking churches, the Psalms were used almost exclusively for singing in worship. Today, while we sing many "hymns of human composure," several of our well-known songs are taken from the Psalms. There are several reasons that God has given for the inclusion of singing in worship.

One reason is to praise Him. "I will praise You, O Lord." Everything that we, as Christians, do should be done "to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6) Indeed, everything that God himself has done in carrying out His scheme for our redemption, has been done for this purpose, and God would have all people act and live for His praise. One way that we praise God is by singing in our worship. "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15).

Another reason to sing in worship is to teach and admonish one another. Why would God want His children to sing "among the peoples?" It is so that "the peoples" will hear and be exhorted (note Hebrews 3:13). This is why we are told, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16). When Paul wrote, "...I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding" (I Corinthians 14:15), he was talking about the need to sing in a way that others can understand what is being sung and thus be blessed by it.

One other reason for singing in worship is so that we ourselves may be edified. Why should "I sing...among the nations"? So that in so doing I myself might be built up and drawn closer to the Lord. "Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19). As I sing in the worship service, or in any other setting with fellow believers, not only do I speak to them but I also make melody in my own heart. "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:14). Singing in which I praise God and teach others in song is also designed to strengthen me. Therefore, "I will praise You, O Lord."

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