When someone says, “I can’t sing,” people often respond by citing Psalm 66:1a: “You know what the Bible says, Make a joyful noise to the Lord.”
I’m sure that everyone who responds similarly wants to offer care and encouragement. Their message is that no matter how bad your intonation, pitch, and clarity may be, you have something to contribute. But here’s the thing, this psalm isn’t just about the quality of our singing. Singing is the psalmist’s metaphor for expressing love for God. We express this love, says the psalmist, through proclaiming, storytelling, and holding onto hope. Notice how the psalmist follows Make a joyful noise (v. 1) with Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!” (v. 3). Both are ways we praise God, each an aspect of proclamation. Any time we name God’s greatness, salvation, or justice for others, we sing the glory of God’s name (v. 2).
Imagine the psalm writer composing these lines in response to those who say, “I can’t sing,” because of the troubles and difficult days they face. These words do more than urge God’s people to offer praise and proclamation. They invite God’s people to gather, see, and hear God sing to the people God loves. In verses 4-7 we hear the song of God’s continuing care that liberates people from captivity—good news for any captives. No matter what enslaves you, this God can lead you home. Imagine ancient Israel hearing this melody, repeating these words, and even joining their chorus. Not unlike the great hymns of our own traditions, the psalmist’s words proclaim the faith that we sometimes struggle to remember. They help us sing praises that we do not always proclaim. These words inspire our hope and teach us to sing God’s song.
When has hearing God’s song of love for you helped you sing its melody?
God whose grace continues, help me proclaim your love and grace to others through song, words, and deeds. Amen.