Honor and Majesty: Christmas Day

Psalm 96


"Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth." 


Honor and Majesty

I CAN RECALL MANY CONVERSATIONS OVER THE YEARS WITH FELLOW MUSICIANS IN MINISTRY: WHAT EXACTLY IS A “NEW SONG?” While fellow jazz and improvisation inclined musicians’ definitions leaned towards “spontaneous, improvisational praise music,” the more classically oriented folks suggested it might mean to literally compose, in writing, a new, original worship tune.

As I sat and pondered composing this devotional, I had to chuckle at how “musician biased” my conjecturing, and that of my cronies, was as the Psalmist is clearly not exclusively addressing the worship team, but rather “all the earth.”

ALL the earth! This psalm also states, “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad, let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy (v. 11-12).”

Indeed, all people, all animals, all living things, and all that is tangible should be engaging in conversational dialogue and adoration, be it spontaneous or contemplated, with and to the God of majesty. Praises that are new in their dailyness, as are His mercies, and even new moment to moment, as is His faithfulness.

Jesus instructs us to pray daily for our practical needs (daily bread), for perpetual forgiveness, for resistance to temptation and deliverance from evil. Likewise, we should love, honor and adore Him with the words of our mouths, the meditations of our hearts, and our actions and interactions with the world at large. We are compelled, like David, to worship Him passionately as a response to the privilege of beholding His majesty and the privilege of giving Him honor.

Verse 9 of Psalm 96 has always caused me to stop and contemplate. It says, “Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth.” The word “splendor” is synonymous with words like magnificence, grandeur, opulence and elegance, or as the original Hebrew translates, “beauty.”

It is truly amazing how a glimpse of this beauty can antithetically cause us to repent and rejoice simultaneously, as “all the earth” trembles, we also revel in our triumphant position as sons and daughters of the highest authority in heaven and earth.

I think of the amazing Isaiah 6 encounter, where the same Isaiah a chapter earlier delivers a litany of “woe to’s” to a host of different sinners. Yet, when confronted with the splendor of God’s holiness promptly repents saying, “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips…” (KJV). Isaiah then humbly, yet with fervor, receives his commission.

At this time of year, and today of all days, we the people of God get to proclaim and profess the majesty and honor of our King. And today of all days, a fallen and indifferent world is reminded, and as always, invited to turn an open ear, an open mind, and an open heart to the reality of the Christian faith.

- Kirk Reese, adjunct instructor in music