December 18, 2020
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!
“Noise” is an amusing word to me. Every time I hear it I think of the tortured face of the Grinch, complaining about those annoying little twerps down in Whoville: “The noise! Noise! Noise!”
So I find it intriguing that our passage today from Psalm 98 commands us to make a “joyful noise” to the Lord. The Hebrew word for “noise” has a pretty broad list of possible applications: shouting, raising an alarm, crying out, giving a blast, a war-cry, a march in triumph, yelling in applause, etc.
Something from our history or culture makes me feel like that list doesn’t quite line up with the idea of “approaching God.” My first thought is that if we’re coming before the King of Everything, the Creator of the Universe, then we’d better make sure to be polite, respectful and appropriate. I mean, we don’t want to get on His bad side accidentally! So shouting or making loud noises doesn’t seem to fit, upon first glance.
But is that really true? Does God want no “noise” from us if it’s not a respectful noise? Are we supposed to keep ourselves politely restrained at all times in His presence? Or is it possible that God just likes to hear what we are thinking and feeling, like any father likes to hear from his children? Could it be that God likes to see what kind of noise we come up with when we are filled with joy?
The last time my college won the NCAA basketball tournament was quite a while ago when I was a young adult. And I was exhilarated. I couldn’t contain myself, I threw on my shoes and ran out into the night. I sprinted around the neighborhood, punching my fists in the air, crying out, “Yes! Yes!” and generally exploding with joy. It wasn’t all that “appropriate” a reaction, and I did try to keep the noise level down to be “respectful,” but it was pure joy and I just wasn’t sure how to express it. So I just…did!
What is your joyful noise? How do you express joy when you simply can’t contain it inside? Have you ever just shouted joyfully to the Lord, for all the good things He has done for you and around you? Maybe today is a good day to try it!