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Sons of Korah – Worship, Psalms and Lament
Do we lament enough when we worship?
It’s not a question I’d considered, until I viewed the excellent website of worship performers Sons of Korah, a local Aussie group formed by two Christian musicians, Matthew Jacoby and Rod Gear. (The name comes from a group of Old Testament Levitical musicians to whom at least 13 of the psalms are attributed.)
Here is what they do:
Our focus is on writing music to and performing the biblical psalms in a way that captures the full force and the emotional and spiritual dynamics of these inspired outpourings.
They have released four CDs, with a fifth due soon, and they are regular performers at churches and Christian gatherings. Matthew has developed a special presentation on spirituality, mixing music and teaching on the message of the psalms for today’s church.
There is much teaching on the website, which is why I recommend it so highly.
What are the psalms?
They are the prayers, reflections and praise declarations of God’s people, and yet they no less authoritative and inspired than the rest of scripture. There are many quotations from the psalms in the New Testament and in many the words are attributed directly to the Holy Spirit.
Why are they important?
The psalms themselves contain, in condensed form, all the fundamental truths of the faith. Salvation history, the attributes of God, the way of salvation, the law of God, principles of wisdom, the nature of man and many more points of theology are powerfully encapsulated in the psalms. In this way the people learned about these things and passed them on. This is precisely what Paul has in mind when he exhorts the Colossians to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs in worship to God so that the word of Christ would dwell in them richly (Col. 3:16).
And what’s all this about lament? Isn’t worship supposed to be joyful?
It is an interesting and notable fact that more than half the psalms in the Book of Psalms are laments. A lament is quite simply an expression of grief before God. So if it is true that the Book of Psalms is the part of the Bible that largely defines what worship is and what the priorities in our personal and corporate worship should be, why does the lament have no place today, generally speaking, in church worship…?
It seems that not only are we not following the biblical pattern in this respect but we have ventured far from it. As a result of this our worship has become shallow and in many cases our rejoicing is quite superficial. There is a time for rejoicing in the church and in private and a time for lament. Lament is not something that belongs back in the Old Testament. The New Testament also calls us to lament in this life of struggle, sin and grief.
There is more, lots more, on lament, the “enemy” psalms, fear and reverence, and the “great assembly”, and commentaries on many individual psalms. Sons of Korah have created an inspiring website that invites repeated visits. I would invite you to visit it now.
November 16th, 2002
December 18th, 2002