All of my life I have wanted to be a musician, specifically a singer. The only problems with that have been that I have never had the patience to learn a musical instrument. Also, in the words of my mother, “I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.” Can you believe my own mother said that to me? It wasn’t recent, either. I was singing one day as a little child, and she said, “Son, I love you, but you couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket!” In her defense, she was right. Actually, I am grateful she said that, otherwise I might have become one of those people with a horrendous voice to try out for American Idol.
I thought I had improved over the years. One day, as I was visiting with a friend (who is a very talented musician), I let him hear a recording of a song I made for my wife. His eyes got really big, and he had the look of someone who had just drank a glass of spoiled milk!
The book of Psalms tells us to “make a joyful noise” to the Lord in 7 different verses:
“Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;” (Ps. 66:1 NRSV)
“Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.” (Ps. 81:1 KJV)
“O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” (Ps. 95:1-2 NRSV)
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.” (Ps. 98:4 NRSV)
“With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.” (Ps. 98:6 NRSV)
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.” (Ps. 100:1 NRSV)
The Hebrew word translated “noise” is Ruwa. It means, “to shout, raise a sound, cry out, give a blast”. Anyone who has ever heard my singing would say that this is an accurate definition! Sometimes, in church, I start to feel a little self-conscious about my singing, and I lower my volume, considerably. What vanity! In those times, I have to think of these scriptures that tell me to make Ruwa to the Lord with joy!
God doesn’t care what it sounds like – He hears what is coming from our hearts, not our mouths. So, you might ask what our volume has to do with it, if He hears our hearts rather than our voices? In Deuteronomy, Israel is given this command, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (6:5 ESV). Jesus quotes this as being “the greatest commandment” (Matt. 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27). The Hebrew word for “might” means “exceedingly, force, abundance, greatly, with muchness”. I don’t know how it is possible to love the Lord with all your might in your heart only. No, if you are worshiping with all your might, then that will manifest itself in your heart, in your voice, and in your actions.
What I want to hear at church is 100% of the people worshiping with all their might. Of course, that means I will hear some wretched sounding voices. However, if I am worshipping with all my might, then I won’t care what other noises I hear, and the sound that Christ will hear is a beautiful melody rising up from the hearts of His people!