Saturday, August 27, 2005

Great Deeds!

jIH DichDaq bom, HIja', jIH DichDaq bom praises Daq joH'a'.
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD. [Psalm 27:6]

podcast version

Have you ever been caught up in a celebration that felt like a tidal wave? Can you remember being filled with a spirit of pure celebration, so exciting that there really wasn't anything you could do to restrain it?

I can think of two very specific times in my life where this happened, in very different circumstances, but surprisingly enough in the same place.

In 1987, I was fortunate enough to have tickets to the World Series - and I and my son were part of a clapping, yelling and singing mass of humanity that cheered the Twins on to victory - it was an awesome experience.

And again, some years later, I participated in a Billy Graham crusade in the same domed stadium, filled to the rafters with people once again cheering a victory - this time not an athletic contest, but the victory that God offers believers.

Now I think there is something, well, Klingon, in such racuous celebrations. There is a Klingon proverb "ta'mey Dun, bommey Dun," Great deeds, great songs. That is, there is something to cheer, to witness to, to SING about in great deeds worthy of celebration.

The Biblical notion is "testimony" - a legal concept of giving witness to an event, but in the Bible it isn't just a matter of dry recitation - our witness should ring out - some might even say it should ROCK.

The term here rendered "bom praises" (sing praises) comes from a Hebrew word, zemer, that is used 41 times in the Hebrew scriptures (almost exclusively in Psalms), meaning "to touch the strings or parts of a musical instrument, i.e. play upon it; to make music" - like play a guitar - and it is used as to mean making music accompanied by the voice; hence to celebrate in song and music:--give praise, sing forth praises, psalms.

Not everyone has the same gift of music - nor do all appreciate the same kinds of music. Sometimes it seems like a surefire way to introduce friction into a community of believers is to ask them what kind of worship music they prefer - or worse yet, force everyone to use only one kind.

But scripture wisely does not tie us down to one style or fashion of music - because the details of instrumentation and style are not the point. The point is summed up well in that Klingon phrase "ta'mey Dun, bommey Dun," Great deeds, great songs. We have a great God, who has done tremendous things, wonderful saving acts for his people, again and again. We need to bear witness to this in words and songs that will remind us again and again that indeed we can turn to him. And when we remember that, with David we'll do just what the apostle Paul admonished us to do: will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. [Ephesians 5:19NLT]

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