Songless Sabbaths

Psalm 92 is a song for the Sabbath. It’s to be sung when the choir is most aware of its rest. To be sung when the hustle and bustle of the week has subsided and one’s primary duty is to reflect not on their own work but on the works of God. When, as they cease their striving and consider afresh the deep thoughts of God toward His people, His people open their mouths with thanksgiving to their God. And as one who has entered into the greater Sabbath rest of Christ’s finished work (Heb. 4:9), it is a song for me.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your steadfast love in the morning, and Your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. For You, O LORD, have made me glad by Your work; at the works of Your hands I sing for joy.

(Psalm 92:1-4 ESV)

It’s a good thing to give thanks to the LORD and to sing praises to His name. It’s good in that it is pleasant and enjoyable. It’s good in that it is appropriate and becoming of saints. It’s good in that it is a worthy and valuable investment of time. It’s good in that it is better than other stuff one could be doing.

Of all the downsides of our culture having minimized the value of, and need for, a day of rest, perhaps the greatest impact has been on the giving of thanks. That we have redefined “rest” as non-employment activities, that we have elevated recreation over rest, that our “days off” are as busy, or even busier, than our “work days” has, I fear, stolen time for much needed reflection and response. And so, for too many, too often, there are songless Sabbaths.

The songwriter anticipated declaring the steadfast love of God in the morning and then engaging in an encore at night, singing of His faithfulness (v. 2). There was no trying to find a spot on the Sabbath calendar for an hour or two of worship, worship WAS the calendar for the Sabbath. And not out of a sense of duty, but because “You, O LORD, have made me glad by Your work” (v.3). And His work meant their rest. His tasks, their thanksgiving. His labor, their lute and lyre melody.

And, as I get somewhat nostalgic concerning simpler and less busy times and more (in number and in degree) consecrated first days of the week, I’m not really advocating a return to the time when you never took off your “Sunday best.” But I do think we, as the people of God, have robbed ourselves of a valuable life-rhythm if we lose that seven day cycle of rest, reflection, and response. And not to be too simplistic, but I wonder if songless Sabbaths aren’t directly related to simple and sickly saints.

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God.

(Psalm 92:12-13 ESV)

The righteous are meant to flourish. Those robed in the perfect nature of the Son of God through His finished work on the cross by the same power that raised Him from the dead are to blossom, to break out, and to fly! But too many remain withered, entrapped in sin, and never seem to get off the ground.

And again, not to be overly simplistic, I wonder if there isn’t some correlation to the low regard we have for the Sabbath principle. To the rejection of the value of putting worldly pursuits aside in order to reconnect with heaven. Or of the benefit of turning our thoughts from what needs to be done before Monday toward what already has been done for eternity. Or believing that placing the need for recreation below the need for reconnecting and responding on our priority lists will actually result in greater benefit and blessing.

Really, I’m not judging . . just reflecting on the possible impacts of songless Sabbaths.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to Your name, O Most High

Because of grace . . . for His glory . . .

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