[Column] The Best Musical Instrument for Praise is Our Body

What is the purpose of our having been created by God? The Bible clearly tells us that it is to praise God (Isaiah 43:21). What is the conclusion and the last verse of Psalms, the songs and poems of praise? “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.” The phrase “Praise the Lord” in Hebrew is Hallelujah whose etymology is hallelu, the second person imperative form of the verb to praise, and jah, meaning Jehovah. According to Professor Youngil Jang, president of the Presbyterian College and Theological Seminary in Korea, it must be said with a pause between lu and jah because saying the first two syllables and pausing to say the next two syllables together would mean to many Jews “Praise a false god called Lujah.” Because most Hebrew words are generally accented on the last syllable of the word, it is recommended that lu be said with longer duration when we say Hallelujah.

Using various musical instruments in praise is commendable. Psalm 150 tells us to praise God using the trumpet, harp, lyre, strings, pipe, clash of cymbals and resounding cymbals. In modern days, the piano, keyboard, guitar, drums, etc are frequently used. In 1 Chronicles 23:5, David gathers 4,000 people to offer praise to God using the musical instruments he made. Of all the beautiful musical instruments, there is the greatest instrument of all: our body. Just as the body itself is the singer’s musical instrument, our body is the greatest instrument for praise.
How then should we praise God? With our voice. Recently, a Korean T.V. program entitled Qualifications of Men featured a male choir comprised of members between the ages of 52 and 84. Unlike their age, their voice was robust and energetic. As we advance in age, our bodily functions deteriorate. Our voice is no exception. As a result of the aging of the muscles and thinning of the mucous membranes, our voice becomes dull. One of the most effective measures against age-related vocal disorders is the habit of singing. Singing is equivalent to exercise. Therefore, let us sing out loud. It is recommended that we sing or pray at the volume just enough to hear our voice. As we sing out loud to God, His Spirit moves and inspires us.

Also, we must praise God clapping our hands: “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy” (Psalm 47:1). Clapping is a gesture of approval and deference. God is too great for our meager applause, yet clapping is man’s reasonable expression of His greatness. We can also praise God lifting up our hands: “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands” (Psalm 63:4; 28:2). It is recorded in the Scriptures that all the people lifted up their hands and answered Amen Amen as Ezra praised the Great God (Nehemiah 8:6).

In addition, we can praise God while standing (Psalm 134: 1). Standing represents being spiritually awake and reverence to the authority. In the Old Testament, God commanded people to make many furnishings for the tabernacle with exception of one thing. It was chairs. The priest in the Old Testament had to engage in his duties while standing up until their completion. Even the clerks at a supermarket work standing up; the servers at a restaurant work standing up. Our rendering of praise and service to God while standing up is a delight to God.

Further, we can praise God with prostration: “the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say” (Revelation 4:10). This signifies the highest degree of reverence. We can praise God by dancing as well. 1 Chronicles 13:8 says David and his people celebrated “with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, cymbals and trumpets.” In spite of David’s sins and shortcomings, God especially cared for and loved him. I cannot help but think it must be because of David’s spiritual zeal and fervor. David was the person who praised God with all his heart and soul. A beautiful praise offered to God using prestigious musical instruments is a mere concert performance if people do not devote their heart and soul. If we offer our own body as a worthy and living sacrifice, God will accept it as a true praise and a sweet savor. Hallelujah.

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