Praise thy God, O Zion
‘The whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice …’ Luke 19:37
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 100:1–5
I hope the doctrine that Christians ought to be gloomy will soon be driven out of the universe. There are no people in the world who have such a right to be happy, nor have such cause to be joyful as the saints of the living God. All Christian duties should be done joyfully; but especially the work of praising the Lord. I have been in congregations where the tune was dolorous to the very last degree; where the time was so dreadfully slow that one wondered whether they would ever be able to sing through the 119th Psalm; whether, to use Watts’s expression, eternity would not be too short for them to get through it; and altogether, the spirit of the people has seemed to be so damp, so heavy, so dead, that we might have supposed that they were met to prepare their minds for hanging rather than for blessing the ever-gracious God. Why, brethren, true praise sets the heart ringing its bells, and hanging out its streamers. Never hang your flag at half-mast when you praise God; no, run up every colour, let every banner wave in the breeze, and let all the powers and passions of your spirit exult and rejoice in God your Saviour. They ‘rejoiced’. We are really most horribly afraid of being too happy. Some Christians think cheerfulness a very dangerous folly, if not a ruinous vice. That joyous 100th Psalm has been altered in all the English versions. The first verse includes the words ‘him serve with fear’, but the Scottish version has less thistle and more rose. Listen and catch its holy happiness—‘Him serve with mirth’.
For meditation: Praising God in song does not demand silliness and drawing attention to ourselves; nor does it mean singing ‘as if’ we mean it! Spiritual singing expresses true heartfelt thanksgiving to God (Ephesians 5:19–20; Colossians 3:16) in joyful unison and with a healthy volume (2 Chronicles 5:13).
Sermon no. 678
25 February (1866)