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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Psalm for Thursday: Psalm 81, vs. 3

Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp.

After the violent and difficult verse from yesterday's psalm, today's is a pleasant sight!
This is clearly a psalm of joy.  It has always amazed me how many words there are for joy or celebrate in Hebrew, as well as in English and other languages.  Many of these words are found in the psalms and other biblical texts.  But today's verse is not simply about the need to celebrate, but intructions are given.  And these tell us that the Levites had quit an orchestra  all those years ago.  For they were the ones who would sing the psalms as part of the rituals that included animal sacrifices as well as other sacrifices and offerings to God.  And so, just as animals were being slaughtered and burned and blood was being sprinkled on the altar, so too the Levites were singing and playing their instruments.  Both song and sacrifice were part of the effort to praise and thank God

in this verse the psalmist does not just instruct us to sing, or to play specific instruments at different times. It would seem that the song and the playing of the tambourine and lyre with harp was happening  concurrently.  And so singing, playing instruments and sacrifices were all a part of worship in Biblical times.  The diversity of worship and the diversity of instruments in this and other psalms reminds us that we are each unique.  But the fact that all of this took place either simultaneously or within close proximity reminds us that even though we are unique and different, we are all one.  And that is an important message to remember in our fractured world.

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