Something special happens when we gather and sing truth together. Even more than “special”; a more fitting word might be eternal. And why? We as worship leaders spend hours rehearsing a perfectly normal three to four minute song, the people in our church mill in to the sanctuary just minutes before (some with coffee in hand), and all we are doing is singing the words up on the screen in unison. Why does that seem to matter so much? Why does that seem to affect our hearts and affections for Him in a totally different way than anything else? Why is it so paradigm-shifting to say, sing, and actively be about lifting Him up; acknowledging to ourselves and those next to us that we draw near to One who deserves to be set apart, exalted, and unceasingly worshipped?
I love the opportunity songs like this one give in a corporate setting. Songs about the cross, songs about His love, songs about our future hope all play their part as well; but there’s something about songs that herald this theme; that paint this picture for us; that He is high and lifted up! This thought is uniquely beneficial to our hearts.
How many times have you heard that the Lord “inhabits the praises of His people”? We find that in Psalm 22:3: “Yet You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.” We know as well from numerous other places in Scripture that this is true (2 Chronicles 20:18-22, Mark 14:3-9, Acts 2:1-4, Revelation 4). But, for the sake of where this song leads us, let’s look again at Psalm 22 and notice the verses sandwiched around verse three:
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
Any of that sound familiar?
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabacthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:45-46
The beautiful promise that God inhabits the praises of His people; that we can stand on the shoulders of our fathers and be strengthened by the view of God’s faithfulness from generation to generation; that comes straight from a Messianic psalm that Jesus quoted as he was dying on the cross! We know that because of Jesus’ obedience to the will of the Father, and because He is the Word through whom all that is created came to be, He is seated on the throne and has the Name that is above every other name forever (Philippians 2:1-11)!
It is right that we lift Him up, and give Him the highest praise, and exult in His exaltation on the throne; not only because our hearts are made glad in it (Psalm 16:11), but because Jesus is the reason that we can boldly come before the throne of God! We have the hope of future glory because there was a Lamb without blemish, the Only Begotten Son, Who was forsaken on our behalf! He cried out Psalm 22:1 and 2 on the cross so that we could cry out verses three through five!
For more reasons than we can recount, leading our churches and our own hearts in songs like these is right and good and true and, like everything else, points to our Savior! May we join in on this song:
Be enthroned upon the praises of
A thousand generations
You are worthy
Lord of all
Unto You the slain and risen King
We lift our voice with heaven
Lord of all