This week’s treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson (for October 24) is written by Brenda J. Lang who serves as professor of music and worship at Cincinnati (Ohio) Christian University.
God’s Universal Reign (Psalm 47) By Brenda J. Lang
Clap your hands all you people, Shout unto God with a voice of triumph.
Clap your hands all you people, Shout unto God with a voice of praise.
Hosanna! Hosanna! Shout unto God with a voice of triumph.
Praise Him! Praise Him! Shout unto God with a voice of praise.
I suspect as you read those words based on Psalm 47 you burst out singing that old children’s song and jumped out of your seat to do the motions. It had a catchy tune and we used to sing it with all our might. As director of a university choir, I am always looking for new songs for my choir. Do you know there are more than four-dozen choral settings of Psalm 47 and even more hymns and worship songs? Why are there so many settings? What compels composers to use this text?
The God of All Nations
Notice in the heading that this was written for the director of music. This was a hymn used in worship by the Israelite nation and it has continued to this day to be a powerful hymn whose main theme is that God is king over all the earth, all nations—he is the universal king.
What else can we do but praise the God of all nations? We are compelled to lift our hands, clapping in praise to our God. We are moved to shout with all our might to the King of kings. We can’t help but lift our voices in singing praises to the God who sits on his holy throne. In looking at verse 6 we are encouraged to sing praises not just one time, but four. Then verse 7 continues, “For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.” We are called to praise God for who he is and what he has done.
I am writing this just a few weeks after my church’s ethnically diverse VBS where more than 30 percent of the children in attendance were not white Anglos. Also as I am writing this I am helping my 16-year-old son pack for his first mission trip to Mexico, where he will help with the construction of a church building and teach VBS to more than 300 children. I am also presently preparing 55 Cincinnati Christian University students for our second mission choir tour to Brazil next March.
Why do I mention this? Because if God is the God of the nations, then we not only praise him as the universal God, but we must also make sure all nations have a chance to hear about the God of the nations. As in the days of King David, not all nations know the God of the universe. We are called to praise him so others may come to know him.
The Response to Our Praise
During our first mission choir tour to Brazil in 2008, we traveled to the small mountain village of Pião. The minister of the church there believed God wanted him to build a church 2,000 people could attend. When our bus entered the village the people poured out of the shops to see “the Americans.” We climbed the steep, narrow hill to set up on the concrete floor inside the block walls of the unfinished church building. The acoustics were horrible. Choir members couldn’t hear the band or each other.
We were very tired from the demands of the trip and unnerved about the situation. But we prayed and offered our program to God to use as he intended.
When it came time for the concert to begin, the place was packed. It seemed the entire village had come out mainly to hear the Americans sing. We worshipped from our hearts. We clapped our hands and sang praises to the God of all nations. At the end of the concert, more than 70 people came forward to accept Christ. Their hearts were moved by the message in song based on the book of Philippians and the total praise expressed by the choir.
At the conclusion of another of our concerts, a unique sound began to permeate the clapping and shouting of the Brazilian Christians. It was one of the most unusual sounds I had ever heard. A man in the front row was playing a shofar. He was a Messianic Jew who had heard American Christians were doing a concert. In response to the concert he lifted his shofar in praise to God. Psalm 47:5 says, “God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets” (meaning a shofar, which traditionally is a ram’s horn). What an amazing and moving ending to a concert of worship where people from many nations came together to clap their hands, shout to the Lord, and sing praises to our God!
We must clap our hands, sing our praises, and shout to God wherever we are. All nations must learn about the King of kings.
*All Scripture references are from the New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.
|HOME DAILY BIBLE READINGS|
|Oct. 18: Jeremiah 10:6-10|
|Oct. 19: Psalm 97|
|Oct. 20: 2 Chronicles 20:5-12|
|Oct. 21: Psalm 3|
|Oct. 22: Deuteronomy 33:26-29|
|Oct. 23: Psalm 99|
|Oct. 24: Psalm 47|
ABOUT THE LESSON WRITER: Brenda J. Lang is professor of music and worship at Cincinnati (Ohio) Christian University. She holds a BA in sacred music, Christian education from Lincoln (Illinois) Christian College; and an MM from the University of Missouri. She has done postgraduate work at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.