Clap your hands all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! For the Lord the Most High is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. Psalms 47:1-2 (ESV)
The air was electric. The stadium moved beneath our feet as the crowd jumped up and down. (It was the “bounce house” for a reason.) A minute and a half remained on the clock. The visiting team had just scored. With a kicked off and 100 yards to go, the home team fans held their collective breath. Boom. Ninety-five yards later and no time left on the clock, the stadium erupted into a deafening roar. What seemed impossible 90 seconds and 100 yards ago was now a reality. The Knights defeated the Bulls 42-49 keeping their undefeated season intact.
Much like the UCF Knights in 2017, the nation of Israel had much to celebrate. The temple was complete. The country was at peace. A wise king was on the throne. It was time to jump up and down and celebrate. In Psalm 47:1-4, the songwriter encouraged the people to celebrate their great and mighty God by clapping and shouting loudly in songs of praise. The praise was not unwarranted. God had delivered them from their enemies. They were living safely and securely in their own land. The ark was returning to the temple (2Chronicles 7). Their joy was to be an uproarious celebration in the presence of all people. It was not a time to be prim or proper. It was time to let loose and let the world know of God’s great love and salvation.
Loud celebration was not difficult for the crowd at the UCF/USF football game. It exploded out of everyone simultaneously. No matter what, you couldn’t help but jump up and cheer with each exciting play. The swell of those rising around you lifted you to your feet like a wave breaking on the ocean. No one had to be told to clap or shout. You just did. You couldn’t help it.
Our praise to God should be the same way: free, unhindered, spontaneous, joyful, and contagious. Praise should flow freely from our hearts to our mouths. The joy we feel because of God’s presence in our life should automatically open our hearts to praise. No one looks around at a football game to see if anyone notices them cheering. No one compares notes about the right way to cheer. A shout. A fist pump. A head nod. Ferocious clapping. All okay. Neither should we feel the need to look around during worship to see if anyone notices our praise. Singing. Hands raised. Eyes open. Eyes closed. Off-key. All okay. God just wants to hear our heart-felt uninhibited praise.
Today, I challenge you, and myself, to take some time and think about our own corporate praise. Are we wholeheartedly praising the Lord or are we holding back? Let’s take a moment and make a mental (or even physical) list inventorying all the things the Lord has done for us. Then, let’s bring that list with us the next time we attend a place of worship and use it to turn our corporate praise into an honest moment of personal celebration of God’s goodness.
It might just be the game changer our worship needs.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.