Psalm 66 has been a fun one. Its all about praising God for his deeds and his faithfulness to his people. The action centers on God's deliverance of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. The story of the exodus is a template for all of God's work in history and prefigures the work of Christ. We are all enslaved and there is nothing we can do to liberate ourselves. But God has payed the price for our freedom and is leading us through the wilderness to his promised land. So while none of us were there for the original exodus, we can all relate to that imagery for God's work in our own lives.
In this version, I've only gone up through verse 12 and then adapted verse 20 as the bridge. Once again, I've skipped over the metrical versions and simply adapted the text from the ESV to fit the lyrical structure of the song, Chris Tomlin's "Let God Arise."
Psalm 66 (Let God Arise)
Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
Sing the glory of his matchless name;
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
Your enemies bow down to you.
All the earth worships you and sings your praise;
They sing praises to your holy name.”
Come see what God - has done for us.
Our God turned the sea 'to dry land;
They walked dry through the waters.
There did we - rejoice in him,
God who rules by might forever,
Who watches o'er the nations.
Bless our God, O let his praise be heard,
He has not allowed our feet to slip.
For you, O God, have tested us;
With crushing burdens on our backs;
We went through the fire and through the waves;
Yet you have brought us to an abundant place.
God, has not rejected my prayer
Or taken his love from me!
One of my favorite songs that have been written in the past few years is "Build Your Kingdom Here" by Rend Collective. The song is upbeat and has a great message but one of the things that really makes the song special for me is the strange percussion instrument that the band used. Soon after the song came out, I decided to teach it to my congregation and thought it would be fun to get one of the instruments. The guys from Rend Collective call it a jingling johnny, and I looked high and low to find one. When I finally did, it was called a stumpf fiddle and the website wanted nearly $300 for it.
Now 300 bucks will buy a lot of things and I really didn't think that purchasing a weird percussion doohickey was a good use of that much of my money. So I did what any sensible person would do. I built one. A trip to my local big box hardware store and a quick stop at the craft store and I was all set. It took about 2 hours to assemble and in the end I had a reasonable facsimile that was well under a third of the price. My kids called it the jingle stick and the name stuck for us. They loved it so much that I even had to make miniature versions for them.
When we debuted the song we used the jingle stick and it was an instant sensation. People really liked its quirky appearance and sound - though our drummers were less enthusiastic because it's hard on your hands when you play it. The instrument made such an impression that people voice their disappointment when we do "Build Your Kingdom Here" without it.
What initially attracted me to the jingle stick was that it was quirky and different, but, because I built my own, my view now is a little different. I took a bunch of things that shouldn't go together - a post-hole digger handle, stove pans, springs, bells, and other odds and ends - and created a musical instrument. It looks funny, makes strange noises, and baffles a lot of people, even musicians. I love it because it reminds me of the church.
God in his infinite grace and wisdom has brought together people from all walks of life, every tribe, and every language and made us into one body. As a group, we look a little weird, we're noisy, and we often leave people scratching their heads. We are his instrument. In his hands, we make amazing music.