by G.J. Stewart
“But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3).
The Psalms are full of mingled experiences, with the praises which result from such experiences. They show how God produces that which He loves from the human heart, that harp with its thousand strings.
The deep underlying basis of all praises is in the verse cited at the head of this paper. In that psalm the Chief Musician passed through experiences which enabled Him to sing the new song. He was not heard when He cried unto God in the hour of His abandonment, in order that the Holy God might continually receive the praises in which He lives. Christ Himself, when all was over, begins and leads the praise, saying, “In the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee.” This forms the basis of the continual praise which His people take up as following His lead.
But we too have to pass through such experiences, as with God’s blessing deepens the sense of His love in our hearts and produces praise from our voices. The Psalms give the seas of trouble through which God passes His people, Christ being with them in all, that their hearts may be made to answer to His touch; and though quivering and vibrating under His hand, to turn to with the harmony which delights His heart. Thus the voice (flute) is raised in praise to God, giving expression to the deeper heart (harp) tones produced in such a way.
The thousand strings of the human heart, over which all the joys and sorrows known here sweep, are better than David’s harp of ten strings with solemn sound; as the human voice is better than a flute with all wind instruments. Our God, who is the living God and must have living praise, is glorified when His people can join in such language as:
“We sing Thine arm unshortened,
Brought through each sore temptation;
With HEART and VOICE in Thee rejoice,
Thou God of our salvation.”
May it not be that the psalm in New Testament language represents experience, with its resulting praise produced in the same way as those of the Old Testament?
The Hymn: a direct expression of praise and worship to God for all His love now made known. This we could hardly have in the Old Testament, though anticipatively referred to in Psalm 29:22.
The spiritual Ode: an ebullition of thanksgiving for every fresh deliverance by the way, such as our God delights in accomplishing on our behalf. Moses and the children of Israel sang an Ode in Exodus 15, and Deborah and Barak in Judges 5.
Magazine (Simple Testimony???), p. 326