Ephesians 5:19 says, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.”
One of my favourite clubs growing up was the Brownies - a part of the Girl Guiding Association. Outdoor hiking and activity is a big part of the Guides and Scouts and often get associated with those call and response songs. The ones that go, “I don’t know what I’ve been told…”. Beyond being a fun way to pass time, songs like that can be a great motivator to keep stragglers walking when they’ve lost pace. My mum once listened to a particular song on perpetual repeat because it was the perfect beats per minute for her Parish Walk pace!
As God’s people we are no different – songs motivate us for the journey. Psalm 121 is part of a collection of fifteen psalms called the Psalms of Ascents. Three times a year, God’s people would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the feasts and at these three times, the Psalms of Ascents would be sung to each other on the journey. Imagine singing, “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?’” as you literally ascend a hill and God’s temple in Jerusalem comes into view! Wouldn’t that give, “my help comes from the Lord” a fresh perspective? It is also thought that the Levitical priests at the temple would sing each of these psalms, one on each of the fifteen steps up to the temple, over the people as they gathered to worship during the feasts. In contrast to some of the other psalms, these ones are not personal prayers from an individual heart but congregational, faith-building songs to stir God’s people to praise as they journey together.
Ephesians 5:19 says, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs”. Paul reminds us that we are also pilgrims on a journey and should use song to encourage one another on the way. The Psalms of Ascents reminded God’s people of who He is and what He had done for them as they ascended the hill to worship Him in Jerusalem and we have that same opportunity to remind each other of the greatness of our God as we head towards the heavenly New Jerusalem. What a privilege! I can use song and worship to build faith in you and you can do the same for me!
More than this, the Levitical priests used these psalms to prophetically declare God’s promises over the people as they gathered to worship at the temple. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His wonderful light”. Just like the Levitical priests of old, we as a priesthood of the ministry of Christ can use our worship to declare over God’s people His salvation, His power, His love, His mercy and all that He is! When you, my brother or sister in Christ, become weary on the journey or lose sight of the Lord, the worship I bring and the songs I declare will lift your spirits, fill you with faith, and proclaim God’s truth over you. Isn’t that wonderful?! And when I find the pilgrimage to heaven tough, I will turn to you, fellow pilgrim, to encourage me with your song to the Lord and find faith in your worship. Thank the Lord today that, no matter the circumstances, we do not journey alone.
• When praying with the saints this week, use a psalm to declare God’s promises over them.
• Choose a worship song to send to someone today as an encouragement.