When our congregation sang “Joy to the World” last Sunday. I gave it my all, holding nothing back, overflowing with joy.
At the end of the service, the guy sitting in front of me turned around and said, “Maybe you should sing in the choir.” He wasn’t frowning exactly, but he wasn’t smiling either.
I got the message. Too loud, too happy, and just too much from where he was sitting.
But from God’s point of view? He wants us to go all out when we worship Him, since He “inhabits the praises” (Psalm 22:3) of His people. Imagine it! When we sing His praises, He sits among us, “enthroned” (ESV) by the very notes and words that fill the air.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you. Isaiah 12:6
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,… Isaiah 12:6
The Lord isn’t kidding about this “shout” thing. In Hebrew, tsahal means “bellow.” He wants us to “rejoice” (AMP) and “celebrate” (CEV) and “raise the roof!” (MSG). Nothing mild and mellow. We’re talking “a loud shout!” (NIrV).
Praise isn’t merely for people who are naturally exuberant. He wants all who love Him to “shout joyfully” (AMPC), to happily and willingly “sing praise-songs to God” (MSG).
Worship that feels over-the-top to us sounds just right to Him.
Not a singer? Not a problem. In Hebrew, ranan means “to give a ringing cry.” We can do this. We can “make a joyful noise” (Psalm 98:4), knowing He is delighted with our voices, perfectly created for His pleasure.
If you’re thinking, “Hey, I’m not from Israel. I don’t live in Jerusalem. I’m not one of the ‘inhabitants of Zion’” (AMPC), this verse is still for you.
God’s people live everywhere. We can worship Him anywhere.
…for great is the Holy One of Israel among you. Isaiah 12:6
The Lord “is with you in his greatness!” (CJB). When we feel weak, powerless, and worn down to the ground, that’s when we need to praise Him most.
It’s easy to worship God when things are going well, right? He wants us to praise Him even more fervently when life is a mess, when singing with joy is the last thing we feel like doing. “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5).
While we’re honoring Him with praise, He is honing us into His kind of people, able to withstand whatever life throws at us, certain our God can and will handle it.
Praise isn’t about feelings. It’s about obedience. It’s about trust. And it’s about Jesus, because He is the One who gives us the strength to shout for joy no matter what. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15).
The enemy loves to get us all wrapped up in our emotions and feelings. But God is worthy of our praise whatever our mood or situation.
Praising Him, singing with joy, shouting in triumph—that’s the surest path to genuine joy and real peace. In the midst of your worship you’ll realize He is with you “in a powerful way” (ERV), that prayers are being answered, that lives are being changed, that He is doing “great things before your eyes” (EXB).
The miracle of Christmas isn’t simply that God came to earth this very night, two thousand years ago. It’s that He came for us, bringing joy to the world!
Lord Jesus, we confess we don’t always feel like singing, let alone shouting with joy. Help us remember that worship isn’t optional for God’s people, and that praise isn’t about how we feel. It’s about who You are. Our Wonderful Counselor! Our Prince of Peace! Amen, amen. amen.
Three books you might consider for gift giving: The Women of Christmas, A Wreath of Snow, and my latest nonfiction, It’s Good to Be Queen.
Your grateful sister, Liz