Each generation must sing to God with the best music of its generation. For David, it was the tambourine. For us today, it is the carefully crafted sounds of hiphop drumbeats, the sound of the Kalindula drums, and many other such instruments. Here is what Asaph says :
Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob! Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp. (Psalms 81:1, 2 ESV)
I posit that there are five features that must accompany God centred singing:
1. It must be aloud (1) – he says it twice “aloud” and “shout”. That is both declaratory and resounding! No timidness in singing! Its pathetic singing the word of God with your hands in your pocket when people shout at football games!
2. It must be joyful (1) – it says shout for joy. Not the glumness that we see in churches. It flows from a deeper joy in Christ that is fully expressed in worship. It is not dullness we see! It is overflowing!
3. It is a song (2) – that means it is a crafted song, dare I say, with some intelligence to it – not just words bumbled together. But being a song also means that it is meaningful to those listening. A song captures your attention and draws you to the mind of the author.
4. It is accompanied by instruments – the tambourine, the lyre and the harp, and the trumpet. These add colour and flavour to the singing. The diversity of instruments is vital here, not just one instrument.
5. It is sweet – the key here is on the “sweet lyre”. Asaph is captured by the sound of the lyre and its melody. What Asaph is getting at is that it s the best! The Psalmist calls us to bring the best of our culture before God. For Asaph it was the lyre, for us it means the best of hiphop drum beats, the best of reggae beats, the best of neo-gospel melodies , the best of Kalindula beats and other styles of our culture. They must be brought and expressed in a way that glorifies God in singing.